Rudolf Nureyev Enters our life: Part 2

Today, January 26th, I opened my email only to see that Anna had just sent me more info on Nureyev, specifically an interesting link about an exhibit showcasing the very thing we had just discussed – his 1989 visit and performance with the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The article was of course in Russian, and after shamelessly looking for an easy way out with an English translation, which I did not see at the time, I knew that I myself had to translate this wonderful information.  Later tonight, Lana found that there is indeed an english translation to the article, but I have no regrets for my soulful version of it.

So, here it is!

The exhibit entitled “Rudolf Nureyev. The Last Visit” starts tomorrow and lasts until February 11th at the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.

The photo display is the work of famous photographer Valentin Baranovsky, chronicling the final visit of Rudolf Nureyev to St Petersburg in 1989.  The exhibit is dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Nureyev’s birthday.  

This year also marks 25 years since the death of the dancer.

St. Petersburg Museum of Theatre, housing the Nureryev exhibition, located on the corner of the famous Zodchego Rossi, the street which it shares with Vaganova Academy

The rarest photos presented in the exhibit are merely a part of the extensive photography material which comprises the album “Rudolf Nureyev. The Last Visit.”  The book came out in the beginning of this year, and as part of the opening of the exhibit Valentin Baranovsky will personally present this unique work.

Rudolf Nureyev was a cult status dancer of the 20th century. Even during his life his name was enveloped in legends, and his fame boundless.

Notoriety accompanied the dancer practically from his school years.  A mere three years after completing the Leningrad State Choreographic Institute, known today as Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, Rudolf went on to perform with the famous dance troupe of the Kirov (Mariinsky) Theatre.  During this short time he became an idol of the sophisticated Leningrad society.

Rudolf Nureyev in La Sylphide at Mariinsky Theatre, 1989

Having defected and become a persona non-grata in his homeland during the years of the Cold War, the dancer was able to return to Leningrad only after 28 years when the Iron Curtain finally came down.

Rudolf Nureyev in La Sylphide at Mariinsky Theatre, 1989

For Nureyev, these (28 years) were years of triumph.  He danced on the world’s most prestigious stages, received the highest honors, and was the director of the Paris Opera.  But he always remembered his dear school on the street Zodchego Rossi and the Kirov Theatre stage – testaments to his first great success.

The Leningrad audiences also remembered their great idol.  When Rudolf Nureyev during the days of his last visit to Leningrad performed in the production La Sylphide, the theatre was packed.

For the dancer himself, this was a farewell to the beloved city from the times of his youth, and with the stage where his career began.  Rudolf Nureyev visited the choreographic academy, and met with his past teachers and colleagues.  The artist’s every step, from his arrival to his farewell at Pulkovo Airport, was tracked through the lens of the famous photographer Valentin Baranovsky.  These photographs are priceless because their value is not only artistic but historic.

Rudolf Nureyev in rehearsal studio
Rudolf Nureyev in rehearsal

Valentin Baranovsky is the most famous photographer in the ballet circles of Russia. His photo archive is unique.  It recounts everything that went on in the Leningrad-Petersburg ballet in the last decades, and everyone who stepped onto the renowned stage during these years.  The work of Baranovsky has become the basis of fine arts books, brochures, and albums published in many countries. Nominated by the press, the photographer was honored with the prestigious “Soul of Dance” award established by Russia’s Ballet Magazine.


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