“You live as long as you dance” was Rudolf Nureyev’s mantra throughout his meteoric rise as a legendary dancer, choreographer, ballet master, and company director. This publication celebrates Nureyev’s remarkable art and career with a presentation of costumes from ballets he danced or choreographed, as well as a selection of photographs and archival materials that chronicle his illustrious life.
The costumes illustrated and discussed in Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance represent every period of the dancer’s career. They reflect his highly refined aesthetic and his lifelong obsession with the details of fabric, sumptuous decoration, and stylistic line. As a meticulous performer, Nureyev demanded costumes that were not only beautiful but also precisely engineered to suit the physical demands of his work. These pieces traverse a long period during which Nureyev transformed the world of dance, breathing new life into classic ballets, breaking barriers between modern dance and classical ballet, and reversing decades of tradition by emphasizing the male performer. Although he left the Soviet Union in 1961 and was barred from reentering until 1989, Nureyev never severed his connection with his homeland, and he leveraged his positions to promote the grand traditions and iconic roles of Russian ballet.