Rudolf Nureyev on the Muppet Show

Initially, the producers of The Muppet Show had such difficulty casting guest stars that they had to call upon all their personal friends in the entertainment industry for help. This changed dramatically after Nureyev’s guest appearance. The publicity of a renowned ballet dancer appearing on such a bizarre show created such positive publicity that the show became popular and soon celebrities were lining up to appear on the show.

When asked by The Muppet Show producers which character he would most like to appear with, he said he would very much like to dance with Miss Piggy. Since she does not exist from the waist down, and such a sketch would prove difficult for a ballet, a full-bodied Muppet pig (the Ballerina Pig) was constructed for Nureyev’s appearance. Instead of a dance number, Miss Piggy sang a duet with Nureyev, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. He fondly recalled his time with Piggy a decade later when he appeared as a guest on The Dame Edna Experience.

Nureyev was educated at the Leningrad Ballet School and starred with the Kirov Ballet. He defected to the West while performing in Paris in 1961, and then performed internationally, becoming an Austrian citizen in 1982. The English/French documentary I Am a Dancer (1972) featured him and his long-time dance partner, Dame Margot Fonteyn.

Nureyev died of AIDS-related complications on January 6, 1993, in Paris, France.

Showcase: Ai Okuno



In a new series on BALLET20.COM we will showcase young ballet dancers with their private photos and videos. The first one is the beautiful and talented Ai Okuno from Osaka in Japan! She studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

Ai Okuno started her ballet training when she was 6 at Hashimoto Sachiyo Ballet School in Osaka Japan. She enjoyed Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School Summer Intensive program 2012, and also attended PBT graduate program 2013-2014. She got bronze medal with All Japan Ballet Competition in Nagoya 2013, and got gold medals with Zama All Japan Dance Competition both of classical ballet division and contemporary dance division 2014.


Video compilation of the top winners of YAGP 2014 NYC Finals – Ensembles & Pas de Deux categories.
Pas de Deux:

Bronze Medal Seung Yeong Yang (15), Sunwoo Lee (17), Korean National University of Arts, REPUBLIC of KOREA

Silver Medal Claire Rathrun (18), Rammaru Shindo (21), The Rock School for Dance Education, PA, USA

Gold Medal Gabriella Stilo (14), Francisco Serrano (14), Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, FL, USA

Bronze Medal Noir et Blanc The Rock School for Dance Education, PA, USA

Silver Medal Legion Escuela Superior de Music y Danza de Monterrey, MEXICO

Gold Medal Origem Balletarrj Escola de Danca, BRAZIL

Video compilation of the top winners of YAGP 2014 NYC Finals.
Pre-Competitive Age Division:
Bronze Medal Hana Yasue, 10
Bronze Medal Pierce Johnson, 9
Silver Medal Mikaela Milic, 10
Silver Medal Summit Geiselman, 10
Gold Medal Lindy Mesmer, 11
Gold Medal Antonio Gameiro Casalinho, 10
Hope Award Eunsoo Lee, 11
Junior Age Division:
Bronze Medal Bianca Scudamore, 14
Bronze Medal (tie) Adrian Zeisel, 12
Bronze Medal (tie) Leroy Makgatle, 14
Silver Medal Yuki Sugiura, 14
Silver Medal Austen Acevedo, 13
Gold Medal Aviva Gelfer-Mundl, 12
Gold Medal Jun Masuda, 13
YOUTH GRAND PRIX Harrison Lee, 14
Senior Age Division:
Bronze Medal Madeline Woo, 15
Bronze Medal (tie) Blake Kessler, 16
Bronze Medal (tie) David Fernando Navarro Yudes, 17
Silver Medal Mackenzie Richter, 15
Silver Medal Feng Hao Liang, 16
Gold Medal Juliet Doherty, 16
Gold Medal Haruo Niyama, 17
GRAND PRIX Cesar Corrales, 17

Chris Ofili paints Royal Ballet dancers for Deloitte Ignite 2014

Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili is to use Royal Ballet dancers as living canvases for a piece at Deloitte Ignite 2014, painting their bodies for his collaboration with choreographer Aakash Odedra.

Inspired by the myth of Prometheus, the work combines contemporary and classical Indian dance. It will have its premiere as part of Sampling the Myth at the Season-opening festival next month alongside extracts from Mikhail Fokine’s The Firebird and The Dying Swan, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake,George Balanchine’s Apollo and Wayne McGregor’s Raven Girl; and the world premiere of a new dance piece by Rambert’s Miguel Altunaga.

‘Collaborating with Chris Ofili is an integral part of the overall aesthetic of the evening,’ says Aakash. ‘There is an interesting part in Prometheus about the first man made of clay, and so the idea of having a substance on you and why it is relevant is interesting to explore. He has also been giving me ideas to enhance choreographic process.’

Watch Aakash Odedra rehearsing the piece with Royal Ballet dancers

Deloitte Ignite, curated by The Royal Ballet with the National Gallery’s Minna Moore Ede, runs from 5–28 September and includes a wide range of free and ticketed events. Tickets are still available.