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Rudolf Nureyev

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Rudolf Nureyev Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev will always be remembered as one of the most influential ballet dancers in the history of the art. He is often regarded as the greatest ballet dancer of the 1960s and 1970s.

Early Life of Rudolf Nureyev:

Rudolf Nureyev was born on March 17, 1938 aboard a train in route to Russia. He was the youngest of four children, and the only boy. Nureyev saw his first ballet when he was only six years old...he knew right then that he wanted to become a ballet dancer. Although his father tried to discourage his aspirations to become a dancer, his mother recognized his talents and encouraged him.

Rudolf Nureyev at the Kirov Ballet:

Nureyev felt wanted to dance for the very best ballet company, which to him was the Kirov Ballet. Despite many obstacles, he was finally accepted into the Leningrad Choreographic School, the associate school of the Kirov Ballet, at the age of 17.

Nureyev established a reputation of being difficult because he felt like he had started late in his training. He would sometimes skip important classes in order to watch as many ballets as he could. Alexander Pushkin soon noticed his ability became his teacher, allowing him to live with him. Nureyev continued dancing with the Kirov and soon became a soloist.

Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn:

Nereyev managed to flee to Paris and began a six-month season with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. He soon met Margot Fonteyn at the Royal Academy of Dancing in England. Fonteyn became his principal partner for several years.

Even though Nureyev was almost 20 years younger than Fonteyn, the two made a stunning pair. Fonteyn seemed to help ground the young Nureyev, while he helped to rekindle her spirit. Audiences were willing to pay much more to see the two dance together than alone. Even after her retirement, Fonteyn remained a close friend of Nureyev.

Late Years of Rudolf Nureyev:

Nureyev's energy, motivation and love for the ballet led him around the world. He took an interest in modern dance, performing with the legendary Martha Graham. He also tested his skills at film, starring in several acting/dancing roles.

Nureyev became very ill with AIDS in the early 1990s. His made his final stage appearance at the Palace Garner after the performance of his most famous ballet, La Bayadere. Nureyev died on January 6, 1993.

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