Shock as Bolshoi cancels world premiere of Nureyev ballet

Move comes after outspoken director was Contested at a high-profile criminal investigation that supports claim is politically motivated

Russias Bolshoi theater has announced the cancellation of next weeks world premiere of a ballet about Russian dancing legend Rudolf Nureyev, staged with an outspoken director that has been contested at a high-profile criminal identification.

Nureyev was set to premiere at the Bolshoi on Tuesday in one of the most hotly anticipated stagings of the season. However, in a move that has shocked the ballet world, the theater said the series has been indefinitely postponed.

The ballet is based on the life story of Nureyev, the superstar dancer who defected from the Soviet Union and found new fame in the west before perishing in an Aids-related disorder in 1993 at age 53.

The operation is being staged by Kirill Serebrennikov, a theater and movie director who recently was contested and had his home searched in an investigation into alleged embezzlement of state financing for the arts.

Among Russias most advanced and successful directors, Serebrennikov has previously staged a ballet based on Mikhail Lermontovs Hero of Our Time at the Bolshoi.

Serebrennikov has fallen out of favour with Russias cultural authorities in recent years and has denounced increasing censorship of the arts. Supporters of Mr Serebrennikov allegedly stated his questioning was politically motivated.

The Bolshoi stated the dress rehearsal scheduled for Nureyev on Monday had been cancelled and the premiere place for Tuesday was postponed to a later date which was not specified.

Serebrennikov did not answer his telephone Saturday afternoon.

The theatres management has been set to give a press conference on Monday on the explanations for the shows postponement.

The details of Serebrennikovs production had been kept closely under wraps, with the title of the dancer performing the principal role a key, Tatiana Kuznetsova, ballet critic for the Kommersant newspaper, composed Saturday.

She also reported on rumours that the production incorporates male dancers in dresses in addition to portrayals of public personalities that are still alive.

She also called it the principal event of the ballet year in Russia, and perhaps in the world, with critics from all over the world place to attend the premiere.

In May Serebrennikovs level and the state-funded Gogol Centre theater he heads in Moscow were raided by investigators in a probe into alleged fraud over state funds for arts.

Serebrennikov himself was questioned as a note, although the accountant and a former director of a firm he founded were detained.

Serebrennikovs fans called the raid a politically motivated assault on the liberty of the arts, and the Bolshoi general director Vladimir Urin wrote to President Vladimir Putin to complain about the handling of the investigation.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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