On Saturday, five months late, Russia's most controversial ballet in years opened at the Bolshoi.
Nureyev , which traces the life and Aids-related death of Soviet dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev, had been pulled just two days before its scheduled premiere in July. Insiders suggested the ballet's frank treatment of homosexuality
-- and a reported intervention by the culture ministry -- lay behind the dramatic decision to cancel. The parallel investigation and August arrest of the ballet's director, Kirill Serebrennikov, added to those suspicions. Right up until the last
moment, there were doubts that the premiere would ever happen.
The Cannes-winning director remains under house arrest, awaiting trial. He is unable to work, talk to the press or see his elderly, infirm parents. He was not allowed to play any direct role in the final preparations of the ballet. State
investigators accuse him of embezzlement but it seems more likely that the arrest is more to do with Russian hatred of gay culture.
The ballet has also suffered a notable cut from the version originally planned. The original version of the production, seen in leaked rehearsal videos, included the projection of a famous picture from Avedon's photoshoot of Nureyev in
full-frontal mod. Insiders reported that it was this detail that had proven to be the most controversial for authorities. By Saturday, the 10-second scene had been cut, rather undermining the theatre's narrative that politics had not played a role
in the original cancellation.