The unmatched impact of Rudolf Nureyev, whose performances touched the lives of people around the world, will be celebrated on stage this September in London over five performances at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - where Nureyev made his London debut - in a production curated by a former star of The Royal Ballet which will bring together an array of international talent both on and off stage. Performances will take place from 5-12 September.
Nureyev defected from the Soviet Union in 1961, rebelling against an oppressive regime, becoming a citizen of the world who popularised ballet internationally.
At Nureyev Legend and Legacy, audiences will enjoy a programme of nine classical ballet excerpts representing highlights in Nureyev’s career, hand-selected by former Royal Ballet principal Nehemiah Kish and performed by 22 of the leading dancers of our times - William Bracewell, Yuhui Choe, Alina Cojocaru, Cesar Corrales, Guillaume Côté (12th September), Benjamin Ella, Francesco Gabriele Frola, Emma Hawes, Francesca Hayward, Daichi Ikarashi, Oleg Ivenko, Germain Louvet (5th and 6th September), Natascha Mair, Maia Makhateli, Vadim Muntagirov, Yasmine Naghdi, Natalia Osipova, Xander Parish, Iana Salenko, Marcelino Sambé, Alexandr Trusch, Marianna Tsembenhoi - representing companies which include The Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and the English National Ballet.
Performances of Nureyev Legend and Legacy will be hosted and introduced by former Director of The Royal Ballet Dame Monica Mason - who herself partnered Nureyev on a number of occasions - and Ralph Fiennes, the acclaimed actor and filmmaker who directed and acted in The White Crow, which tells the story of Nureyev’s defection from Russia to the West. On the opening night, this introduction will be live, with a filmed version screened at the performances that follow.
Each piece has been chosen to represent a different aspect of Nureyev’s incredible life and work, which saw him become a global star with renown beyond the world of ballet, opening with a solo he choreographed for The Sleeping Beauty which showcases Nureyev’s talent as a choreographer and his impact on elevating the role of the male dancer by adding solos to the classical repertoire. It will be danced by Germain Louvet of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Other extracts in the programme include a Pas de Deux from Gayane, which reflects Nureyev’s folk dance roots and will danced by Oleg Ivenko (who played Nureyev in The White Crow) partnered by Maia Mahkateli; and the Pas de Six from Laurencia, which Nureyev staged with the Royal Ballet for a TV special in 1964, staged exclusively for this production by Natalia Osipova, who will be accompanied by Marcelino Sambé and 4 dancers from The Royal Ballet.
The dancers will perform to live music played by 40 musicians from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, who will be conducted by David Briskin, Musical Director of the National Ballet of Canada. Costumes which draw on archival footage of Nureyev’s performances have been created by ballet dancer turned designer Natalia Stewart.
In alignment with Nureyev’s inclusive values, which saw him establish a foundation which offers bursaries to emerging dancers, a proportion of tickets for the production will be offered free of charge to ballet students and workers in the NHS. Some of the dancers in the programme have been the direct beneficiaries of bursaries to study from The Rudolph Nureyev Foundation.
Speaking about the production, Artistic Director Nehemiah Kish said:
“From my earliest memories as a young dancer, I have regarded Rudolf Nureyev as synonymous with classical ballet. At Canada’s National Ballet School, I was fortunate to study with a close colleague of Nureyev and our training was infused with daily reminders of the impossibly high standard of discipline and artistry that Nureyev practiced. Every step of my dance education and professional career has been shaped by those who knew Nureyev and drew inspiration from his passion and commitment to illustrate the highest achievements in dance and inspire the next generation of dancers.
In presenting this programme, I want to celebrate Rudolf Nureyev’s transformative influence on dance and his legacy, expressed through the performances of today’s most incredible dancers.”