Updated April 25, 2019
It's the moment many of us have been waiting for since early 2017: our first glimpse of The White Crow, a feature film about Rudolf Nureyev's 1961 defection from the Soviet Union while on tour with the Kirov Ballet. Directed by Hollywood A-lister Ralph Fiennes, the movie follows Nureyev from his birth on a train in Siberia to his request for asylum at Paris' Le Bourget Airport. It is based on Julie Kavanaugh's 2007 book, Nureyev: A Life.
THE WHITE CROW - Official Trailer - Directed by Ralph Fiennes www.youtube.com
The trailer shows the incredibly tense atmosphere during the Kirov's Paris tour, with KGB agents following the rebellious Nureyev wherever he goes. Thankfully, the film cast an actual professional dancer, Oleg Ivenko, in the lead role. A principal with the M. Jalil Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, Ivenko, who is Ukrainian, bears a striking resemblance to Nureyev. (Here's hoping the movie will show plenty of dancing—former Royal Ballet principal Johann Kobborg serves as the film's dance consultant and choreographer.) Fiennes portrays revered ballet master Alexander Pushkin, who taught Nureyev at the Vaganova Academy and took a special interest in his talent, while French actress Adèle Exarchopoulos plays Clara Saint, the French socialite who helped orchestrate his defection.
If you look closely at the trailer, you'll also catch a glimpse of controversial dance star Sergei Polunin, who plays Yuri Soloviev, Nureyev's roommate during the Kirov's tour. Polunin, a former Royal Ballet principal and a fervent admirer of Russian president Vladimir Putin, came under fire in January for ranting sexist and anti-gay Instagram posts, as well as for calls to slap fat people (since deleted). His posts caused the Paris Opéra Ballet to cancel his upcoming guest appearance. In this interview with German journalist Tanit Koch, Polunin says that his posts were not about being "gay or straight," but about "male and female energy," and what he sees as a current lack of male strength. He later told The Guardian that at the time, he felt energized by the hostility his posts were creating.
The White Crow opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday, April 26.