As an avid collector of antiques and textiles, it makes sense that the famous ballet dancer Rudolf NureyevThe tomb of reflects his taste. Located in the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois cemetery in the suburbs of Paris, Nureyev’s tomb is draped in a realistic mosaic of an oriental kilim rug. Created by scenographer Ezio Frigerio, who often collaborated with Nureyev, the tomb is a beautiful visual expression of the dancer’s remarkable life.
Nureyev was born into a Tartar Muslim family in 1938 near Siberia. He fell in love with ballet at the age of six when his mother took him and his three older sisters to a performance of Song of the Crane. His love of dancing solidified in school, where he performed folk dances. Teachers quickly noticed his abilities and encouraged him to train in a bigger city. Although his father, who was in the army, forbade him to dance, his mother encouraged him to pursue his dreams.
As World War II disrupted his plans, Nureyev continued his studies at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Leningrad. In the late 1950s, Nureyev earned a reputation as one of the best male ballet dancers in the Soviet Union. He quickly became known not only for his talent, but also for his modern interpretations of classical ballets. This desire to break down borders made him popular, but his anti-conformist attitude also concerned the government.
In 1961, Nureyev was allowed to travel to Paris with his company, the Kirov Ballet, for their first international tour. Although government officials were nervous about allowing him to leave the country, French tour organizers pressured them to bring their best dancer on the trip. Although he was closely watched by the KGB, Nureyev defected on the trip to Paris. In fact, he was the first artist to defect during the Cold War, causing a stir. Eventually, in 1982, he was granted Austrian citizenship, ending two decades of statelessness.
By leaving the Soviet Union, Nureyev was able to develop his creative freedom. He became the principal dancer of the Royal Ballet and worked extensively with American Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. For most of the 1980s, he was director of the Paris Opera Ballet. He continued his work there until 1989, even as he fell increasingly ill.
In 1984 Nureyev tested HIV positive. At the time, medical treatment was limited, and eventually he developed AIDS. Although he continued to work, his diminished health would take its toll. In 1993, after several stays in hospital, he died of complications from AIDS.
His tomb then became a visual representation of the opulence that the dancer surrounded himself with. Revealed in 1996, the memorial has become one of the cemetery’s most visited sites.
A beautiful grave in a cemetery outside Paris has a realistic mosaic with a rug draped over it.
The memorial commemorates the famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
Nureyev was an avid collector of antiques and textiles, making the tomb an ideal way to honor his life.
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