Rudolf Nureyev’s technical influence

“Technique is what you fall back on
when you run out of inspiration.”

Rudolf Nureyev

la Bayadère Rudolf Noureev

“Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration”

Rudolf expected his female dancers to be capable of fast powerful pointe-work with clearly defined postures: arrêté / pointé / cinquième, and in particular, croisé, together with perfect lower leg presentation; all of this to be full of expression.

For the male dancers, he concentrated on the grande batterie, on the assemblé, insisting on clear, precise, visible performances, on the double “rond de jamb” and always, of course, on the lower leg work.

His choreographies were extremely intense and vivid. Never one to take the easy way out, if the musical theme was repeated four times, he wanted the step to be performed four times keeping the same purity and the same simplicity (which is, basically, the most difficult!), the repetition enriching the impression of discipline and beauty.
He sought extremes: the piqué arabesque stretched to its limit, arms extended; lines forever reaching out towards infinity.
Elisabeth Platel

The legs express themselves in a classical language that is clear and distinct, with perfect fifth positions, whilst the extremely supple torso and arms (dealt with in a less strict manner) provide a sensation of liberty and lyricism.
The “slow variation” which he used to set the pace of the first act in his Swan Lake to interpret the daydreaming of Prince Siegfried is, with reference to this, significant: the vocabulary used is highly traditional (arabesques / pas de bourrée / jetés), but the “ports de bras”, the “renversés en arrière”, the changes of direction are more modern in style. Charles Jude

He wanted to see if the “impossible” was nevertheless “feasible”, if what he had learnt about contemporary techniques could be combined with classical techniques: for example that the female dancer turns using “staggered” pirouettes – which is easy enough to do with the feet flat on the floor – but he wanted it performed on pointes! And we had to carry on trying the exercise until we succeeded… The “achievement” then being greeted by him with a huge smile: “You see, it does work!” And it’s true that for the performer who took part in this experience, it was exciting to explore new step possibilities in this way. Patricia Ruanne

In classical ballet aim at a vertical elevation, but they move horizontally through space in modern ballet. Nureyev implemented a combination of the two: to jump very high whilst moving across the stage (glissade / assemblé, feet joined in the air). The spectator has the impression that the dancer is flying, and is instantaneously suspended in midair.