Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Rudolf Nureyev On Stage - Exhibition of Stage Costumes and Photos at Alliance Française de Singapour

As part of DANCE: A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, the Alliance Française de Singapour has an exhibition called NUREYEV ON STAGE. For the first time in Red Dot Island, the exclusive event held at the organisation's gallery showcases 14 original stage costumes worn by the ‘master of dance’ RUDOLF NUREYEV (1938-1993) during some of his memorable performances.

In the realm of pop-culture and film, Red Dot Diva can name only two male ballet dancers off hand. One of them is Mikhail Baryshnikov, and the other, the legendary Rudolf Nureyev. Because of Rudolf Nureyev, Red Dot Diva was introduced to the world of ballet, his long time dance partner Dame Margot Fonteyn. During the height of the Cold War, she remembered being drawn to his dramatic deflection to the West. This unforgettable story is told in the 2019 film “THE WHITE CROW” directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Rudolf Nureyev was a pioneer in the world of ballet in more ways than one. He had a magnetic stage presence that earned him millions of fans worldwide, and is known for his technical prowess, powerful leaps and graceful spins. He also elevated the role of the male ballet dancer to the spotlight, and was one of the first few dancers who brought ballet performances to TV. Nureyev was a celebrated choreographer as well, and often mixed traditional ballet and contemporary dance. From 1983 to 1989, he was director of the Paris Opera.

The stage costumes on display include those worn during Rudolf Nureyev's performances of Giselle, Swan Lake, Paquita and La Bayadère. The pieces had been designed to be beautiful as well as practical. The doublets had been shortened, so that they did not hinder Nureyev's body movements and serve to show off the line of his legs. In fact, in his early days on stage, he refused to wear the modesty trunks which were the norm at the time, and wanted to dance wearing just tights. Wearing tights has since become the standard for male ballet dancers. When admiring the costumes, you will also notice that Nureyev had a very small waist for a guy!

Accompanying the intricate costumes are 49 unpublished photographs highlighting the expressiveness of the superstar dancer. Of special note to the locals is a short segment about his 1989 stop in Red Dot Island as part of his world tour.

The costumes and photos are on loan, by courtesy of Charles Jude's private collection. Charles Jude was a disciple of Nureyev and in 1977, was named principal dancer at the Paris Opera. He has danced for several companies during his career, and has choreographed a number of ballet performances.

The NUREYEV ON STAGE exhibition may be small, but it is a concise and worthy celebration of the man's legacy in the art of dance, in spite of his often scandalous and dramatic life. The free event ends this Saturday, 25 September 2021, so if you are fan of ballet and dance, take some time to pop in and immerse yourself in a period of dance history.

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