Rudolf Nureyev is a beautiful Russian dancer who escaped the clutches of the Soviet Union in 1961, despite attempts by the KGB to stop him, to dance Ballet in the West. Here he is:


Rudolf Nureyev is famed for many reasons so it’s difficult to know what to talk about first. His beauty and irresistible character are well know, as well as his powerful impact on shape of modern Ballet. He defected from the Kirov/Marinsky Ballet in 1961 in order to escape an all-too predictable future in the world of Soviet Ballet and quickly became famous for his ability to captivate audiences with his magnetic performance on stage, as well as his artistic daring and experimental attitude towards traditional ballet. Rudolf helped to redefine traditional ballets with modern dance representations; he broke apart ballets like Petipa’s Raymonda, which he had performed in the Soviet Union and well as liberating male roles in ballet from supporting the female to being central performers in their own right. Tragically, Nureyev died (54) in the early nineties due to AIDS but has left a presence which continues to move Ballet lovers to this day.

Those around him found an obsessive perfectionism in Nureyev, an un-reasoning service to the art of Ballet, the art which rescued him from unendurable bleakness in the Soviet Union and brought his fortune and acclaim in the West. He was prodigious and single-minded, a Russian dominating the West through the ballets he created and performed and finally, in his directorship of the Paris Opera Ballet, which he rescued from inanimation. He clearly was a prodigy, a master of his art and we are graced, that this great creature walked (or sprung) across the face of the twentieth century.

Check out this youtube clip of Nureyev, the pirouetting stallion:

And here he’s dancing with the famous dancer Margot Fontayn (same dance, different clip, still semi-naked).

Yes, beautiful man, if you were alive now, I’d Facebook stalk you and follow you around London and the world to see you dance, but as it is I just have my teen poster of you, up on the wall, framed ornately, with love hearts around your face; I’m also thinking about calling my child Rudolf, even if she is a girl. Readers, I will admit I feel over powered by the splendour of this man and perhaps, being a proponent of ballet, he should have a slightly less lusty homage, with some good old British etiquette. However, one of the reasons I feel so at liberty to blush and gush at the very thought of him is because of how contemporary and normal this Ballet experience was – yes Rudolf, it was because of you, and what happened on Saturday Night!

This (really, really hot) and genius ballet dancer is famous in the ballet world and last week, he was given a tribute at the London Coliseum, home to the English National Opera and Dead Curious was lucky enough to get some tickets. Nastrovje!

Nureyev English National Ballet

Now I don’t know how many readers out there have been to the Ballet. I went a couple of times, when I was a plié practicing child, then, then again when I was about 22 I went to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, full of nostalgia for my formative hobby, to once more see the ballet. My god, it was boring. Groups of really skinny women jumping up and down, no naked men and three hours of uneventful classical music…

Here’s some eventful classical music.

Tisk Tisk – sorry for being such a plebeian but, in this day and age, we all like a bit of sex, drugs and rock and roll and ballet, has, forever, seemed an uncommonly unsexy art form. I think back to being a teenager, or even smaller, as a child and I remember watching men turn around in a pair of tights (…?) which were just oh, so, restricting (seriously embarrassing for a teenage girl) and it hardly makes me want to pay to see the ballet. However, who gives a damn, now I’m 26 and I don’t care about being embarrassed and can sit back and enjoy the show of attractive, muscular, sweaty men dancing for me. My boyfriend (who came out of his free will) was happy because there were also some fit female dancers in minimal clothing, so boys, come on by as well!! We salivated together over our pot bellies and ice cream.

Ballet Assumptions

Before I went, my assumptions about the ballet were the following:

– That I should probably go because one must do Ballet every now and that meant watching hordes of people pattering around the stage in joint formations in a repetitive fashion.

– That it would be an unending three hours of continuous dancing, the music wouldn’t really stand out in comparison to other classical music shows and would generally drone on until I could finally break free of my prison chair.

– That I would get angry at the skinny girls.

– But rationally speaking it wouldn’t be that entertaining, I would get bored, get twitchy and feel embarrassed about bringing a bloke because it’s really girly going to the ballet.

– That sex would be the last thing on my mind.

I was wrong on all counts! Thanks Rudolf Nureyev and tribute The English National Ballet gave you! What can I say, all in all I had a great night, I was genuinely entertained for more than several hours… I also didn’t think once about how annoying it was to have to sit still in Theatre seats which is an ever present bug-bear when I visit theatres because the seats at the Coliseum were also comfortable.


The Tribute

The night was split into four separate sections, each giving light on the career of the fine gentleman mentioned above. First, a brief introduction to Nureyev followed by three characteristic chapters of his performance career, on film in the centre of the stage. This was a good warm up to the night of Ballet and very informative for anyone who was new to Ballet and new the Nureyev. The first act was taken from Petrushka in which Nureyev danced and is a Russian Ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky, who also wrote Rite Of Spring for some more classical music…

Click to 3:30 for pretty dark and tribal; probably the equivalent of psy-trance at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.

This entertaining town scene set in Russia which centres about three puppets, one cute dolly bird, a moor and a clown with the master of the dolls. The scene is set very well by clusters of dancers playing with each other, however is suddenly broke apart by the puppets who come alive with dancing. This scene developed into smaller chapters in which the male puppets fell in love with the doll. All had a distinct dance style which was easy to watch and the characterisation was indeed, professionally executed.

A brilliant and vividly colourful set – the clothes were so beautiful and would have gone down a treat in Hackney; I certainly wanted a pair of the stripy knickerbockers that the doll was wearing. The best was of course the dancing which for me, was novel and utterly captivating. As a relative newbie in the ballet world, I would have expected this ballet to be choreographed in the last ten years; it was very unlike any ballet I had seen, live or on film before and surprising that it was designed in the 70s. Very ground-breaking stuff.

This is the original in 1976,it’s definitely worth a watch.

The second act was totally different from the first. The first set the scene with a more typical ballet environment, albeit incredibly modern. The second scene was between two men, in matching outfits dancing together. The mood changed from more upbeat to a powerfully and emotional electricity. They were profoundly moving and graceful together and it was my assumption that it was two lovers, perhaps a mirror of Nureyev and a lover. Although this may have been the subtext, this piece was called the Song of the Wayfarer, designed by Nureyev about a bard moving from town to town with his art (or his muse, the other man) condemned never to return to his homeland. This was probably the best piece of dance I’ve ever seen in my life.

The third act was a more traditional group piece taken from a Wedding scene in Raymonda, mentioned above. In this the dancers took to the stage and took turns to dance solos for the others and for the audience. Very impressive pirouettes, splits and back bends galore.

Have a look at the rehearsals for yourself.


All in all I had a fabulous time and would certainly go to the Ballet again, however, would recommend a more modern ballet company or performance because of the variety you get. What was particularly surprising about the night was the diversity in the crowd, young and old, male and female. There were almost as many men as women in the crowd (almost). I was entertained and my illusions of Ballet, taken from early experiences, were broken as they truly don’t represent how modern Ballet has evolved. Yoga bunnies take note – at one point a man did the fish pose on the front of the stage!! For those of us who love to put our glad-rags on, put on the highest pair of heels you’ve got and the sparkliest dress. My four inch heels didn’t even cut it!!! A really glamorous event in the fabulously ornate Coliseum is to be had by all and boys, if you’re not fussed about coming, maybe the champagne bar will tease you into coming with your lady, (or stag crew, depending on what you’re into).