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Nureyev dancing the Prince in The Sleeping Beauty

Nureyev in the role of the Prince

Noureev dans le rôle du prince de la Belle au bois dormant - Rudolf Noureev - National Ballet of Canada - 1972

Sleeping Beauty is a key work in Nureyev’s career.

It was a huge success for Petipa, the choreographer for whom he had the most admiration, and the ultimate expression of the classical style from St Petersburg which was the foundation of all his ballet. It was in this ballet that the young dancer electrified the Parisian audience, following his defection on the 16th June in 1961 from the Kirov troupe visiting from Leningrad and his subsequent request for political asylum in France. Immediately involved with the International Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Nureyev danced the role of the prince in Sleeping Beauty on the 23rd June 1961, by the side of Nina Vyroubova in Raymundo de Larrain’s production at the Champs Elysées Theatre. He also danced the Blue Bird on the 30th June of the same year. “What impressed the audience when seeing Nureyev for the first time as the prince in Sleeping Beauty was not just the new freshness he brought to the part, transforming the conventional hero into an aristocrat who radiated youthfulness, combining elegant haughtiness with arrogant charm, but also the style and quality of his ballet. It was a heady mixture of apparently contradictory qualities: in the principal movements, he used a sweeping airy style which evoked the whole panoply of a Baroque court; and for the solo virtuosos, he put an exuberant dynamism into his tiger-like leaps and powerful pirouettes.” A.B.

Rudolf Nureyev and Noella Pontois - 1971 - The Sleeping Beauty - Paris

Music : Piotr Ilyitch Tchaïkovski
Choreography : Rudolf Noureev d'après Marius Petipa
Ballet in three acts and a prologue based on the fairy story by Charles Perrault