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Serebrennikov's Bolshoi Ballet On Nureyev's Life To Premier Despite His Arrest

Vladimir Urin, general director of the Bolshoi Theatre
Vladimir Urin, general director of the Bolshoi Theatre

A Bolshoi Theater ballet about Russian dance legend Rudolf Nureyev that was abruptly canceled when its director was arrested this summer will premiere on December 9.

The Bolshoi in July abruptly cancelled the premiere of "Nureyev" after director Kirill Serebrennikov was detained in a criminal inquiry that shocked the global arts world. Serebrennikov remains under house arrest on financial fraud charges.

"Sadly, our request to the [Russian] Investigative Committee that Kirill Serebrennikov be allowed to take part in rehearsals was not answered," the Bolshoi's general director Vladimir Urin said at a news conference on December 8.

Serebrennikov's arrest had raised concerns that the ballet's frank treatment of Nureyev's same-sex relationships had offended Russian authorities. Serebrennikov's productions have offended social conservatives in the past.

But Urin and members of the cast insisted there had been no major changes to the production from what Serebrennikov originally planned before his arrest.

Rehearsals began in mid-November under choreographer Yury Possokhov, and "everything Possokhov did was with the agreement of Kirill Serebrennikov," Urin said.

"I know Kirill has overseen the course of rehearsals and as far as I know he is still making comments, so he hasn't left the process," said principal dancer Vladislav Lantratov.

"All of us -- artists, creators and everyone involved in this show -- found it very difficult what happened. We dreamed that this show would be performed, and it will be," he said.

Serebrennikov, who heads Moscow's Gogol Center theater and who has done several productions for the Bolshoi, has been accused of defrauding the state of over $1 million in arts funding.

He has denounced the charges as "absurd" and his supporters have said the case is part of a politically motivated crackdown on Russia's arts community ahead of presidential elections next year.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP