Discover the Rudolf Nureyev Collection at the CNCS in France

The National Center for Costume and Theatrical Design hosts a permanent exhibition dedicated to Rudolf Nureyev. Located in Moulins in the Allier, the CNCS is responsible for the conservation, study and promotion of a heritage collection of more than 10,000 live performance costumes: theatre, opera and ballet.

Its collections were born with the deposits of the three founding institutions: the National Library of France, the Comédie-Française and the Opéra national de Paris. Many donations from companies, artists and emblematic theaters have subsequently enriched this exceptional fund. A unique museographic and scientific tool, the CNCS is open to the general public as well as to professionals and researchers. It also offers courses dedicated to schoolchildren and future professionals in the sector.

The presentation of the Nureyev Collection is part of the mission to enhance the collections. The Nureyev Collection includes two collections: Nureyev Artist – the stage costumes worn by Rudolf Nureyev during his performances, and Nureyev the Collector – a set of decorative objects and pieces of art collected by the dancer during his life.

Nureyev the Collector

Far from the spotlight, in his numerous residences in Paris, New York or Saint-Barthélemy, Rudolf Nureyev amassed hundreds of incredible collections of objects and works of art which he exhibited with an innate sense of staging. A lover of graphic arts, Rudolf Nureyev owned a set of engravings dated from the 16th century to the first half of the 18th century, representing monuments or views and plans of major European cities (Paris, Amsterdam, London, Rome, Verona, Florence) and his native country, of which a hundred are kept at the CNCS. Also present are engravings of theater sets, plates, Japanese prints, a series of male nudes in red chalk and a lithograph by Niki de Saint Phalle.

On the stage, Rudolf Nureyev created and imposed his style from the start by abandoning the panties, keeping only the tights, and modifying his doublets. As the years go by, he shortens them and cinches them at the waist, clears the neckline and rolls up the sleeves.

Off the stage, Rudolf Nureyev’s interest in fashion was expressed as soon as he arrived in Paris in 1961. During the 1960s, while dancing alongside the Royal Ballet in London, he borrowed the dress style fashionable in the British capital. After these years of “fashion victim”, he adopted a more relaxed style that offered him loose and flexible clothes, more suited to his many business trips. In her wardrobe, designers’ outfits (Dior, Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Versace), leathers, furs, shawls, kimonos, Chinese dresses, kaftans… Passionate about fashion, Nureyev is also passionate about textiles and carpets. He buys dozens of pieces during his international tours and arranges them in his various properties: carpets, cashmeres, silks, damasks… The CNCS collection includes a kilim carpet, kanduri (Hindu altar hangings with figurative decoration) and various fabrics from Asia.

Nureyev The Artist

In the collection which includes some of his stage costumes, find the costumes that Rudolf Nureyev wore during performances of Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère, Le Specter de la Rose among others and white leather demi-pointe slippers . The collection also includes costumes created for his own productions and choreographies.

The Nureyev Photo Library

In addition to stage costumes, clothing, furniture and works of art, the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation donated books, various archives and a large fund of more than 4,800 photographic documents related to The Rudolf Collection to the CNCS. Nureyev. The Rudolf Nureyev photo library offers a real visual journey of the artist’s existence, illustrating his international career as a dancer, choreographer, conductor and even actor, as well as his public and private life, from his childhood in the USSR until in the last years of his life. The dancer will indeed be one of the most photographed artists of his time, immortalized during social events, official meetings or in his private life.