THE BLOG
10/04/2012 05:42 pm ET | Updated Dec 04, 2012

The Legendary Ballet Master Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance

"You live as long as you dance" was Rudolf Nureyev's mantra throughout his meteoric rise as an internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, ballet master, and company director. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Nureyev's death, and the remarkable art and career of this legendary performer, the de Young Museum will present more than 70 costumes from ballets danced by the master -- Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Manfred among them -- as well as a selection of photographs, videos, and ephemera that chronicles his illustrious life.

Reflecting Nureyev's lifelong obsession with the details of fabric, decoration, and stylistic line, the costumes in this exhibition represent every period of his long career. As a meticulous performer, the Russian ballet master demanded costumes that were not only beautiful, but precisely engineered to suit the physical demands of his dance. He also loved sumptuous decoration, and these costumes reflect his highly-refined aesthetic; fantasias of embroidery, jewels, and braid.

Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance offers an intimate view of the man behind the grand gestures, a man, as Mikhail Baryshnikov said, who "... had the charisma and simplicity of a man of the earth, and the inaccessible arrogance of the gods."

Organized in collaboration with the Centre national du costume de scène in Moulins, France, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the de Young is the exhibition's exclusive U.S. venue.

Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance
Rudolf Nureyev and Noëlla Pontois in La Bayadère, Palais Garnier, 1974. Photograph by André Chino. Courtesy CNCS.

Costume for the Lilac Fairy Queen in Sleeping Beauty, Teatro alla Scalla, Milan, 1966. Collection CNSC/Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. Photograph by Pascal François/CNCS.

Costume for the Lilac Fairy Queen in Sleeping Beauty, Teatro alla Scalla, Milan, 1966. Collection CNSC/Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. Photograph by Pascal François/CNCS.