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Arrested director Kirill Serebrennikov wins top ballet prize for Nureyev

Arrested director Kirill Serebrennikov wins top ballet prize for Nureyev
Image: Artem Ovcharenko as Rudolf Nureyev. Image: Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre of Russia/Facebook

6 June 2018

Embattled theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov has won one of Russia’s top arts prizes for his work on the controversial contemprary ballet, Nureyev.

Serebrennikov, who is currently under house arrest on accusations of embezzlement, was awarded the Benois de la Danse prize for scenography. The production also scooped awards for composer Ilya Demutsky, choreographer Yuri Posokhov and dancer Vladislav Lantratov.

Nureyev sparked scandal across the art scene when Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre announced it was postponing the premiere just days before the show’s opening performance in July 2017. Based on the life of Soviet dancer and defector Rudolf Nureyev, the show had been billed as one of the most eagerly anticipated performances of the season.

While Bolshoi General Director Vladimir Urin told reporters that the show simply was “not ready” to perform, others claimed the performance had been shut down due to Serebrennikov’s involvement in an ongoing corruption case. Supporters of the director maintain that the investigation is politically motivated.

Others speculated that officials were pushing to censor the show, which explicitly dealt with Nureyev’s homosexuality.

The show finally premiered to rave reviews in December 2017, after Serebrennikov had been placed under house arrest.