Rudolf Nureyev gala at the Paris Opera

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Twenty years after his death, Rudolf Nureyev’s legacy still lights up the world of ballet as brilliantly as the flamboyant performances which once illuminated the greatest stages.

“As long as they are putting on my ballets, I will live on,” Brigitte Lefevre, dance director of the Paris Opera, recalls Nureyev saying in the years before the ravages of AIDS finally claimed him, aged 54, on January 6, 1993.

A fitting epitaph for a performer who went from being the outstanding male dancer of his generation to a choreographer whose influence resonates throughout modern ballet.

The Paris Opera hosts a gala night on Sunday, with his “Sleeping Beauty” running as part of its 2013/2014 season and his “Nutcracker” in 2014/2015.

London’s Royal Ballet this month stages Nureyev’s “Raymonda”, followed next month by “Marguerite and Armand”, while the Vienna Opera ballet plans a Nureyev gala on June 29 and San Francisco’s De Young Museum is showcasing his stage costumes until February.

And come September, the Kremlin ballet will perform his “Cinderella” — a milestone for Russia, where authorities stung by his defection blacked out all information about him even as his international career soared.

A posthumous homecoming for Nureyev, who had returned to his native land after 26 years in exile, only to find his ailing mother did not recognize him, and the Russian public knew nothing of his stellar rise.

Read the full article here.

Photo: Nureyev in his Paris apartment.

Chronicling Ballet’s Pain and Passion

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Roslyn Sulcas writes: The photographer Henry Leutwyler was building a career in fashion and portrait work in Paris in the late 1980s when he was sent on assignment to photograph Jorge Donn, the charismatic principal dancer who had risen to fame with Maurice Béjart’s Ballet of the 20th Century. The job proved to be a turning point for the Swiss-born Mr. Leutwyler, now 51, who subsequently spent time photographing Mr. Donn and his fellow dancers in Béjart’s company, which was based in Lausanne, Switzerland. After moving to New York in 1996 Mr. Leutwyler continued to take celebrity portraits but found a way back to dance when New York City Ballet hired him to document repertory pieces. One assignment turned into several more, and eventually he won permission to take pictures backstage, in class and rehearsal. The result is “Ballet: Photographs of the New York City Ballet,” (Steidl, $88), a weighty tome that offers a subtle, revealing view of the life of one of the world’s most prominent ballet companies.

See a selection of photos in The New York Times here.