Russian ballet allegedly cancelled over ‘gay propaganda’

The premiere of a new ballet at Russia’s Bolshoi theatre was allegedly cancelled over concerns about ‘gay propaganda’.

The Bolshoi theatre shocked the art world by cancelling new ballet Nureyev, days before its world premiere .

One of the most anticipated ballets of the season, Nureyev had been set to make its debut on Tuesday, but all performances were cancelled on short notice over the weekend under mysterious circumstances.

The ballet is based on the life of gay Soviet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who defected to the West in the 1960s.

The decision to pull the ballet led to allegations that the Russian government had intervened, over concerns about male nudity and gay themes.

Russian outlet Meduza reports that the decision was allegedly taken on the orders of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, citing the depiction of homosexuality.

The minister has denied giving any such order, though he told state news agency TASS: “I fully support this decision. It is balanced and correct.”

The country maintains a controversial 2013 law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”, which has been seized upon by authorities to clamp down on depictions of gay people in public life.

At a press conference today, Bolshoi general director Vladimir Urin aggressively denied the allegations that the ballet was cancelled over gay propaganda concerns, insisting that the decision was taken for “artistic reasons”.

Director of the Bolshoi Ballet Makhar Vaziev and the Bolshoi theatre general director Vladimir Urin

Director of the Bolshoi Ballet Makhar Vaziev and the Bolshoi theatre general director Vladimir Urin (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

However, the ballet’s director Kirill Serebrennikov has not publicly commented.

In a ruling last month, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law.

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