Nureyev dancing the role of Apollo


Rudolf Noureev danseur

Music : Igor Stravinski - Choreography : George Balanchine


For Nureyev, Apollo – just like Giselle – was the ”ballet of a lifetime”.

He danced it continually, from the outset in 1967 (when he made his début in the part at the Vienna Opera) until 1991 on his final “Nureyev and Friends” Tour in Australia. This ballet is the whole of Balanchine’s art in a nutshell and Nureyev considered Balanchine to be the greatest choreographer. It remains a reference in the field of 20th century classical dance : sobriety combined with fantasy; rigour combined with liberty and abstraction combined with expression. All this is expressed in just a few minutes.

Nureyev made his powerful but amusing mark on a role which had had many interpreters before him. The key to this identification was the similarities in character between the dancer and Apollo as seen by Balanchine: Rudolf’s personal charisma meant that he could personify a god on stage in a plausible manner, and act "naturally" without being pompous or solemn (Apollo is a young man, almost a child who is filled with wonder at the world he has discovered).

Finally, the ballet, which can be interpreted as the metaphor of change from an old world to a new world, echoes the true trajectory of the dancer Nureyev.