Bolshoi Theatre bans Nureyev on gay grounds

Bolshoi Theatre bans Nureyev on gay grounds


norman lebrecht

April 20, 2023

Bolshoi chief Vladimir Urin said yesterday he had taken out of repertoire the 2017 ballet ‘Nureyev’ by composer Ilya Demutsky, choreographed by Yuri Posokhov and directed by Kirill Serebrennikov.

The reason, he said, was a new law prohibiting the unambiguous presentation of ‘issues related to the promotion of non-traditional values’ – meaning homosexuality.

The law was enacted in December 2022 by President Putin.


  • Gustavo says:

    And there’s no traditional value is such law.

    The tail wags the dog.

  • Serge says:

    What is worse: cancel someone because of sexuality or because of nationality?

    • Branko Deronja says:

      Serge, this is not clear to me.
      Can you please elaborate.
      For instance: controversy over MET and Netrebko. Is this what you mean?!

      • Serge says:

        What I mean is.

        We can read on the front page of Slippedisc a Norwegian competition banning Russian simply because they are Russian.

        Is this worse, better or equal than banning Nureyev (although dead) simply because he was gay?

        Conclusive question: Aren’t the Norwegians just as bad as the Russians?

        • Paul Brownsey says:

          The cases are very different. Banning a performer because they come from the same country as Putin is not the same as banning a story about someone who was *himself* gay. The former is a ban because the former is regarded as tainted by someone else from the same patch of soil and rock; the latter is a ban because a person is regarded as (NB: I do not say “is”) tainted in himself.

        • No comment says:

          Accoring to this article, they didn’t ban Nureyev himself, but a new ballet “Nureyev” was taken down. It must have included some “unambiguous presentation” in its choreography.

          • The View from America says:

            Not sure how a country “bans” a performing artist after they’ve died (Nureyev in 1992). Videos of his performances?

        • Minority report says:

          As far as I know the LGBT community has not invaded a sovereign country or bombed civilians

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Are they going to ban all music of Tchaikovsky? And maybe rename the Tchaikovsky competition?

  • The View from America says:

    Like that Putin law is somehow going to change behaviors …

    It’s nearly as idiotic as former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claiming that homosexuality doesn’t exist in his country. (Columbia University, October 10, 2007)

    • Mystic Chord says:

      I remember at the time of the Winter Olympics some clown of a politician saying that gay people don’t exist in Russia too … Equally misinformed was Putin’s advice for gay people travelling to the Olympics – something along the lines of ‘you’re welcome as long as you stay away from children’. Nice …

  • guest says:

    Of course, in the russian arts and show-business, gays are in abundance, just like everywhere else. But the authorities pretend that it’s not the case (a large part of the audience probably genuinely doesn’t see it) because if they are loyal to power then their sexual orientation is not an issue. “Our gays” are ours, so everything is fine.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    My guess is that Putin is swinging a big hammer towards the increasingly-decadent western world. This has nothing to do with homosexuality per se, but speaks to Putin’s perception about a western European culture which he deems needs some lessons in how to regain moral authority; and that this is but one of the reasons he either negotiate with or tolerate such a culture. You can easily call him a hypocrite, but if what I’ve suggested forms part of his thinking you can easily see why!!!

  • Tom Phillips says:

    What a horrible country. No wonder so many of its most talented artists defect – at least those with any morals.

  • guest says:

    I suspect this banning of the ballet may have more to do with the banned gay Serebrennikov than gay Nureev himself. For all I know the ballet contained some pretty daring scenes, so it’s still strange that they kept it for so many years (Putin’s anti-gay laws were introduced earlier) and only banned it now.

  • Mystic Chord says:

    To be fair, Nureyev was a considerable danger to young boys – they might have been inspired by him to take up a subversive and morally bankrupt art like classical ballet … Can you imagine the devastating effect on Soviet youth of such iniquitous behaviour??