Kirill Serebrennikov is still under house arrest, but his new ballet about Rudolf Nureyev has debuted without him. Nureyev opened at the Bolshoi Theatre last Saturday and received a 15-minute standing ovation.
Nureyev is split into 11 sections and tells the story of the legendary dancer’s life. The music was composed by Ilya Demutsky, with choreography from Yuri Possokhov. Designed and directed by Serebrennikov, it was originally due to debut last July. However, it was postponed and Serebrennikov was then arrested.
The official reason for Serebrennikov’s detention is that he has been involved in fraud during his time as artistic director of the Gogol Centre. However, some have speculated that depictions of Nureyev’s homosexuality in the ballet were the real reason for his arrest. Not only was Nureyev openly gay, but he also defected from the Soviet Union, making him a controversial figure in Russia.
The premiere was attended by a number of important figures in Russian arts and politics, including Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson.
While not physically at the premiere, the director’s presence was still felt. At the end of the performance the production team appeared wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the logo ‘Free the Director’.