Nureyev and the reappraisal of male ballet

“Any time you dance, what you do must be sprayed
with your blood.”

Rudolf Nureyev

Bayadere Noureev

His interpretation of the great ballets has revived the role of the male ballet. Of course, he helped himself first, and fashioned the variations to suit him. However, he did not stop at improving the male soloist roles; he also took the male dancers from the corps de ballet into consideration, as is proved by the Polonaise in Swan Lake (danced by 16 male dancers), the fantastic waltz in Raymonda, or even the flights of groups of male dancers in the third act of Cinderella. He maintained the force and the technique of the male dancer, but improved their elegance beyond recognition.

“He made a revolution on the way to consider a male dancer,” says Hilaire. “All of the big classical ballet was meant to value the woman, and also his work reflected the dance he saw in Denmark, France, England and Russia. He learned from all over the world and he created his own style. You know when it’s a step from Nureyev as soon as you see it. You cannot really compare it, but his choreography is as rich as the language of Shakespeare or Molière.” Laurent Hilaire