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The Guardian: Ballet about Rudolf Nureyev banned because of 'LGBT propaganda' law

19-4-2023 |

Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre in Russia has dropped a contemporary ballet about the Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev from its repertoire after the expansion of a ban on “LGBT propaganda”.

A law passed in November not only widened an existing prohibition on material considered to promote an LGBTQ+ lifestyle but also restricts the “demonstration” of LGBTQ+ behaviour.

This makes any portrayal of homosexuality – such as Nureyev’s relationships with men after his defection from the Soviet Union in 1961, which the ballet touches on – almost impossible.

The ballet, choreographed by Kirill Serebrennikov, has had a troubled history in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has long promoted conservative values as part of a nationalist agenda backed by the Russian Orthodox Church.

It premiered in December 2017, several months late, after the then-culture minister reportedly called it gay propaganda, and has not been performed since 2018. Performances scheduled for 2022 were abruptly cancelled after Serebrennikov publicly blamed Russia for the conflict in Ukraine.

“Nureyev was removed from the repertoire in connection with the law … where issues related to the promotion of ‘non-traditional values’ are stipulated absolutely unequivocally,” Vladimir Urin, general director of the Bolshoi, told a news conference on Wednesday.

Serebrennikov, one of Russia’s leading film, theatre and television directors and stage designers, made his frustration clear.

“This criminal ‘law’ was passed specifically against this show and against several books … ” he wrote on his Telegram channel, adding three rainbows – an LGBTQ+ symbol.

Source: The Guardian