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© Сourtesy of Dom Nashchokina Gallery

‘Rebellious demon’ Rudolf Nureyev honored in photos, film

by Vladimir Kozlov at 24/06/2013 16:44

‘Rudolf Nureyev: Life in Photographs, Paris - New York'

Until July 20 at Dom Nashchokina Gallery, domnaschokina.ru

Rudolf Nureyev, the male dancer who revolutionized the form, would have been 75 years old this year. In honor of the anniversary, a special section at the Moscow International Film Festival - including a new documentary - and an exhibition at Dom Nashchokina look at his acclaimed work and tempestuous personality.

Born in a train car on the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1938, Nureyev grew up near Ufa before joining Leningrad's renowned Kirov Ballet. During a foreign tour in Paris in 1961, he defected to the West, prompting Nikita Khrushchev to issue a personal order to have the dancer assassinated. After a brilliant career with Paris's Opera Ballet, Nureyev died of AIDS in 1993 at age 55.

The centerpiece of the exhibition "Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Photographs" is a series of color shots that capture the dancer's sumptuously appointed apartments in Paris and New York.

"The pictures captured something that can no longer be seen anywhere else," curator Natalia Rurikova said.

An ardent collector, Nureyev filled his rooms with antique furniture and old musical instruments. In the photos, the walls are covered with nude oil paintings, gleaming icons and jewel-toned tapestries. Nureyev, then already sick with the disease that would claim his life, sits on an embroidered throne in period dress.

The exhibition also features oil portraits of the dancer by Andrew White Jr., as well as black and white photographs chronicling Nureyev's life and career, from his sensational early performances at the Kirov to his years at the helm of the Paris Opera Ballet.

Viewers also see a nonstop screening of Nureyev's "La Bayadere," a lavish production for the Paris Opera Ballet that turned out to be his last.

Meanwhile, "Rudolf Nureyev: Myatezhny Demon" (Rudolf Nureyev: Rebellious Demon) debuted last weekend at Moscow's ongoing film festival. The only previous documentary on Nureyev, Pierre Jourdan's "I Am a Dancer," was made more than 40 years ago.

According to producer Alfiya Chebotaryova, the fact that Nureyev's name was taboo in the Soviet Union after his defection to the West led to the dancer's relative obscurity in Russia - even now, over two decades after the Soviet collapse.

"So last year, [we] decided to do justice to the ballet star," Chebotaryova said.

The movie was filmed in Ufa, where the future ballet star began dancing at a children's folklore ensemble, Moscow, Paris, St. Petersburg and Mogilev, where Nureyev's first partner, Svetlana Baisheva, now lives. It also features rare archival footage of Nureyev, as well as his emotional funeral at the Paris Garnier Opera House.

Among those interviewed are Paris Opera Ballet head Brigitte Lefevre and Janine Ringuet, who organized the Kirov Ballet's fateful French tour. The documentary is narrated by Nureyev's friend, the dancer Andris Liepa.

Liepa agreed to take the job only when he made sure that the film's creators were interested in Nureyev's career, rather than his private life, Chebotaryova said.

Nureyev's life will also serve as the basis for an upcoming French and British feature film focused on the dancer's youth.

This week, the Moscow Film Festival is screening two other movies about Nureyev: "I Am a Dancer," which follows the dancer's technique from rehearsal to performance, and "Valentino," a fantastical 1977 film that imagines Nureyev as amorous silent screen star Rudolph Valentino.

Read other articles of the print issue "The Moscow News #24"
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