“As long as my ballets are danced, I will live.”
The same determination is to be found in both choreographer and ballet master: to maintain discipline and observe their heritage whilst bringing the performance up to date.
By restaging the “classical ballets” Rudolf Nureyev breathed new life into the works that make up ballet’s heritage. He sought to put the ballet in a dramaturgic sequence of events; highlighting the psychoanalytical aspects of “Swan Lake”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker”, so often toned down in the traditional productions, finding psychological motivation for the behaviour of the characters (a step or an enchainment not having to be stereotyped, but the expression of a character’s thoughts or feelings). Thus, Rudolf rid classical ballet of its conventional routines.
He kept the variations danced by female dancers which were traditionally handed down from performer to performer but either scotched those danced by the male dancers or created more.
Rudolf Nureyev was to invent dancing parts for the male dancers from the corps de ballet who, in the ballets from the end of the nineteenth century, are frequently reduced to a position of “lifters” or attractive walk-ons. He demonstrated a predilection for ensembles, with great sweeping diagonal movements, dividing groups by two, by four, or by eight to construct the effect of “rounds”.
Nureyev liked to integrate other languages, from baroque to musical comedy, with the classical technique (Abderam’s variations which did not exist in Petipa’s Raymonda, reflect both Georgian folk dancing as well as Paul Taylor). J.L.B.