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This September, the world’s leading ballet stars joined together to celebrate the legacy of the legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev at London's historic Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Widely regarded as the greatest ballet dancer ever, he transcended borders and his performances popularized ballet with audiences throughout the world. Nureyev's unique artistry continues to influence and inspire ballet today.

Nureyev legend and Legacy features a dazzling array of highlights from Nureyev’s transformative career performed by an international cast of dancers from the most illustrious ballet companies with live music performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by renowned Music Director David Briskin.


This event is presented in association with the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation.

Marquee TV is the exclusive streaming partner for Nureyev Legend and Legacy allowing audiences to watch on demand on Marquee TV from the 16th of September. 



History’s Greatest Ballet Star to be celebrated in Nureyev Legend and Legacy


The unmatched impact of Rudolf Nureyev, whose performances touched the lives of people around the world, was celebrated on stage this September in London over five performances at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - where Nureyev made his London debut - in a production curated by a former star of The Royal Ballet which brings together an array of international talent both on and off stage.

Rudolf Nureyev defected from the Soviet Union in June of 1961 in rebellion against an oppressive regime. Widely regarded as the greatest ballet dancer ever, Nureyev was a global citizen, transcending borders and popularising ballet with audiences throughout the world.


At Nureyev Legend and Legacy, audiences will enjoy a programme of nine classical ballet excerpts representing highlights in Nureyev’s career, hand-selected by former Royal Ballet Principal dancer Nehemiah Kish and performed by 20 of the leading dancers of our times - William Bracewell, Yuhui Choe, Alina Cojocaru, Cesar Corrales, Guillaume Côté, Benjamin Ella, Francesco Gabriele Frola, Emma Hawes, Francesca Hayward, Oleg Ivenko, Natascha Mair, Maia Makhateli, Vadim Muntagirov, Yasmine Naghdi, Natalia Osipova, Xander Parish, Ida Praetorious, Iana Salenko, Alexandr Trusch, Marianna Tsembenhoi -  representing companies which include The Royal Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Berlin State Ballet, Hamburg Ballet and the English National Ballet.

The premiere of Nureyev Legend and Legacy was introduced by former Director of The Royal Ballet Dame Monica Mason - who herself partnered Nureyev on a number of occasions - and Ralph Fiennes, the acclaimed actor and filmmaker who directed and acted in The White Crow, which tells the story of Nureyev’s defection from Russia to the West. 

Each piece has been chosen to represent a different aspect of Nureyev’s incredible life and work, which saw him become a global star with renown beyond the world of ballet, opening with a solo he choreographed for The Sleeping Beauty which showcases Nureyev’s talent as a choreographer and his impact on elevating the role of the male dancer by adding solos to the classical repertoire. Other extracts in the programme include a Pas de Deux from Gayane, which reflects Nureyev’s folk dance roots and will danced by Oleg Ivenko (who played Nureyev in The White Crow) partnered by Maia Mahkateli; and the Pas de Six from Laurencia, which Nureyev staged with the Royal Ballet for a TV special in 1964, staged exclusively for this production by Natalia Osipova, who will be accompanied by Cesar Corrales and 4 dancers from The Royal Ballet.

The dancers perform to live music played by 40 musicians from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by David Briskin, Musical Director of the National Ballet of Canada. Costumes which draw on archival footage of Nureyev’s performances have been created by ballet dancer turned designer Natalia Stewart.

In alignment with Nureyev’s inclusive values, which saw him establish a foundation which offers bursaries to emerging dancers, a proportion of tickets for the production will be offered free of charge to ballet students and workers in the NHS. Some of the dancers in the programme have been the direct beneficiaries of bursaries to study from The Rudolph Nureyev Foundation.

“To me, a country is just a place to dance in.” 

Rudolf Nureyev

“You live because you dance, you dance as long as you live.”   Rudolf Nureyev


Rudolf Nureyev established “The Ballet Promotion Foundation” in 1975. The foundation was concerned with the promotion of ballet, whether through the support of individual dancers or companies and performances. In 1994, the foundation was renamed The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. The objectives of The Foundation were expanded and defined through instructions from Rudolf Nureyev prior to his death.

Among their many acts of generosity, The Foundation provides grants to promising young dancers to support their studies for one year through the establishment of annual scholarships at ballet schools mainly those with which Rudolf Nureyev was associated. Ideally these are awarded to students from Eastern Europe, but potential talent is regarded as the criterion. In the last 10 years alone, the Foundation has awarded scholarships to over 50 young dancers making it possible for them to receive full time professional ballet training. It also supports an annual Best Young Talent prize at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne and provides bursaries for the retraining of retiring dancers.

In line with Nureyev’s request, The Foundation established a lieu de mémoire in his name at the Centre National du Costume de Scène at Moulins in France as well as supporting performances, competitions and publications that commemorate him and his work.

Nureyev was also keen to provide medical help to dancers, which the Foundation does mostly through The International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS).

Click the button below to learn more about Rudolf Nureyev and the important work of the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation 




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