Nothing like that had been seen on more sedate Western ballet stages before.
And yet, all of this could have been lost to us, were it not for his daring, impulsive escape from the clutches of his KGB minders at Paris Le Bourget airport during a rare tour of the West by the Kirov (now Mariinsky) Ballet in 1961.
Nureyev’s time with the Kirov in Paris, his constant cat and mouse game with his minders as he tasted the freedom of life in the West, and his dramatic escape at the very last minute, have been heavily chronicled. The BBC drama documentary Dance to Freedom, broadcast four years ago, is one such example.
Now, the actor/director Ralph Fiennes brings us a full account of his life in The White Crow: Rudolf Nureyev’s big screen biopic, with a script by the playwright David Hare (The Hours), based on Julie Kavanagh's extensive biography.
This will be Ralph Fiennes' third film as a director, following his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (2011) and The Invisible Woman (2013). As in both of these previous ventures, he also acts in The White Crow, this time taking on the supporting role of Nureyev’s ballet teacher and mentor Alexander Ivanovich Pushkin.
Fiennes and Hare say they were inspired to tell Nureyev’s story by the dancer’s unflagging dedication to his art, his hard work and unrelenting focus.
Born in 1938 on the Trans-Siberian train into a Tartar family, Rudolf Nureyev’s childhood was one of poverty and disruption caused by World War II.
His ballet training started late, at 17-years-old, but such was his talent and willpower that he graduated into Leningrad’s Kirov Ballet aged 20, and was soon dancing soloist and principal roles, as well as partnering some of the company’s most illustrious ballerinas.
The White Crow entrusts the role of Rudolf Nureyev to the striking young Ukranian dancer Oleg Ivenko. Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) co-stars, and there’s a role, too, for Ukrainian-born ballet dancer Sergei Polunin.
On top of this, the film includes footage of Nureyev himself talking and dancing.
You'll have to wait until 12 March for the film to reach cinemas – but it's no wonder the expectation surrounding The White Crow is already reaching fever pitch…
|What||The White Crow: Ralph Fiennes directs Rudolf Nureyev biopic|
12 Mar 19 – 12 Mar 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|