CNCS - stage costumes



The CNCS was recently entrusted with a very important collection of documents, objects, furniture, works of art and costumes that belonged to the famous and now legendary dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev.


The Cncs and the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation, present from May to November 2009, the exhibition “Rudolf Nureyev, 1938 -1993” that evokes, through pictures, costumes, drawings, the life of this icon of dance and his ballets.

The Centre national du costume de scène (national centre for stage costumes), first worldwide institution to be entirely dedicated to theatre’s material patrimonial heritage, was founded by the state (Ministry of the Arts and of Communication), in partnership with Moulins’ town council (Ville de Moulins), the Allier Department council (Conseil Général de l’Allier) and the Auvergne region council (Conseil régional d’Auvergne).

The Cncs gathers a prestigious collection of 8 500 stage costumes, issued from the three partnering component institutions, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Opéra National de Paris and the Comédie-Française, as well as from private theatrical companies. The Cncs has opened on 1st July 2006 under the chairmanship of Christian Lacroix.

The Rudolf Nureyev ® Foundation will largely contribute to the exhibition’s financial arrangements, as well as to the creation of the memorial space.


The exhibition at the CNCS is composed essentially of photos and costumes. In fact, the primary mission of the Centre national du costume de scène is to present the aesthetics
of Rudolf Nureyev through the costumes of productions he mounted for all the great ballet companies of the world. Nureyev loved sumptuous shows, generous and abundant as ceremonies, and his imagination was nourished by the splendour of the Imperial ballets and of the Russia of the tsars, the sumptuous productions of Benois and Bakst for the
Ballets Russes of Diaghilev, and the aesthetics of films by Visconti and Zeffirelli. He was also a passionate collector of textiles and rugs, which he bought during his tours around the world.

Far from being indifferent to fashion, he influenced men’s clothing in the London of the 60s, the years of Carnaby Street, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Vidal Sassoon.
From childhood he was passionate about costumes and imposed changes and improvements for his own costumes at the Kirov, improvements which were then shared by the other dancers. He knew his own body perfectly, and developed a basic model for his doublets that he insisted on using, no matter what the production. Nureyev’s costumes and ballet slippers were in unimaginable state of wear and tear; the best example being his pants for Le Corsaire which he wore in every performance throughout the years, mended endless times.