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The Legendary Ballet Master Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance

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"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.

Costume by Nicholas Giorgiadis for Rudolf Nureyev in the role of Prince Siegfried, Act I, in Swan Lake, Vienna State Opera Ballet, 1964. Silver lace and blue silk doublet, trimmed with blue rhinestones, faux pearls, pleated linen collar and cuffs, and blue soutache. Collection CNCS/Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. Photograph by Pascal François/CNCS

Costume by Nicholas Giorgiadis for Rudolf Nureyev in the role of Prince Siegfried, Act I, in Swan Lake, Vienna State Opera Ballet, 1964. Silver lace and blue silk doublet, trimmed with blue rhinestones, faux pearls, pleated linen collar and cuffs, and blue soutache. Collection CNCS/Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. Photograph by Pascal François/CNCS

Rudolf Nureyev in La Bayadère, Palais Garnier, 1974. Photograph by André Chino. Courtesy CNCS.

Costume by Nicholas Giorgiadis, doublet for Rudolf Nureyev in the role of Prince Florimond, Act III, in Sleeping Beauty, Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 1966. Sleeveless gray and silver waistcoat trimmed with gold lace, yellow braid, and gold filigree buttons; white false shirt with pleated sleeves and lace cuffs. Collection CNCS/Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. Photograph by Pascal François/CNCS

Costume by Nicholas Georgiadis for Rudolf Nureyev in the role of Jean de Brienne in Raymonda, Opéra national de Paris, 1983. Beige silk and gold lamé doublet with velvet braid; cream silk shirt with elastic belt. Collection CNCS/Opéra national de Paris. Photograph by Pascal François/CNCS

Costume for Rudolf Nureyev in the role of Romeo, Act II, Romeo and Juliet, Opéra national de Paris. 1984. Velvet, silk, silver lamé, metallic lace, and sequins. Collection of CNCS/Opéra national de Paris. Photograph by Pascal François/CNCS



Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance
October 6, 2012- February 17, 2013