Nureyev, Rudolf

DANCER, CHOREOGRAPHER (SOVIET UNION)
BORN 17 Mar 1938, Irkutsk, Siberia (on a train near) - DIED 6 Jan 1993, Paris
GRAVE LOCATION Ste.-Geneviève-des-Bois, Essone: Cimetière Russe (Tomb 8328, plan III)

Rudolf Nureyev was born near Irkutsk on the Trans-Siberian train. He grew up in Bashkiria as the only son in a Tatar family. As a child he danced in local folk performances. When he was in Moscow with a local dancing company he auditioned for the Bolshoi Ballet Company. Allthough he was accepted, he went to Leningrad because he preferred the Kirov Ballet School. It was not before 1955 that he was able to join the Vaganova Choreographic Institute that was related to the Kirov Ballet School. Taught by Alexander Pushkin (1907-1970) he was soon recognised as a great talent. He lived with Pushkin and his wife, with whom he had an affair when he was 21.

After he graduated he became a soloist at the Kirov, where he often danced with Ninel Kurgapkina. He performed in Vienna, but for disciplinary reasons he was not allowed to dance outside the USSR again. But after Konstantin Sergeyev was injured he was to replace him in Paris in 1961. At the Le Bourget Airport in Paris he decided to stay in the West and he immediately signed with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. Part of the reason that he didn´t want to return to the USSR was the fact that he was gay and that he was afraid of what would happen when the Russians found out.

In 1962 he became permanent guest soloist at the British Royal Ballet. In England he teamed up with Margot Fonteyn and their performances became legendary. In Denmark he met the dancer Erik Bruhn, who became his lover.

When AIDS swept over France in 1982 he hardly noticed and when he fell ill he thought there were other causes. His health detoriated and at a certain point he could only accept small dancing parts. He always wanted to visit his mother in the USSR but he was never allowed to until she was dying in 1989 and Gorbachev allowed him to visit her. Shortly afterwards it became clear that he was very ill himself. He continued to make public appearances until 1992 and died a few months later in Paris.

He was buried at the Cimetière Russe at Ste.-Geneviève-des-Bois, not far from Paris. The cemetery was already closed for new burials at that time, but for him an acception was made. He was a collector of carpets and textiles and his tomb features an oriental carpet.

Sources
Rudolf Nureyev - Wikipedia

Images

The grave of Rudolf Nureyev at the Cimetière Russe, Ste.-Geneviève-des-Bois.
Picture by Androom (18 Nov 2006)

 


Nussbaum, Johann Nepomuk von

Published: 8 Feb 2008
Last update: 8 Feb 2008