The Australian Ballet

Happy birthday Rudi!

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Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev with artists of The Australian Ballet in Raymonda, photo courtesy of Australian News

Regarded as the most influential male ballet dancer of his generation, Rudolf Nureyev changed the ballet landscape with his unparalleled talent and quest for greatness. From humble beginnings in Soviet-era Russia to partying with Hollywood royalty, we look at some memorable Nureyev moments.

Born on March 17, 1938, Nureyev's impact on ballet cannot be understated. The Australian Ballet was fortunate enough to develop an artistic relationship with the man, the myth, the legend that is Rudolf Nureyev that continues to this day.

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Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in Giselle, 1964

Photo David Mist

December 1962

Rudolf Nureyev arrives in Sydney to Join Erik Bruhn and Sonia Arova. The Australian Ballet artists watch them take class from the fly tower above, or side of stage. The juxtaposition of Nureyev's unpolished fire-like talent against Bruhn's cool demeanour is noticed by the local dancers.

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April 1964

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, whose legendary partnership is driving audiences into rapturous frenzies akin to Beatlemania, arrive to guest with The Australian Ballet in Swan Lake and Giselle. It’s the first time the pair dance a complete ballet with any company other than The Royal Ballet.

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Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn

Photo Reg Wilson


Nureyev directs and performs in The Australian Ballet's production of Raymonda.

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Rudolf Nureyev and Lucette Aldous
Photo Paul Cox 1972


Nureyev stages Don Quixote based on Marius Petipa's choreography for The Australian Ballet. This production will tour again in 1972 and become the inspiration for the film of the same name.

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Rudolf Nureyev and Sir Robert Helpmann, 1972

Photo Unknown

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Rudolf Nureyev and Barry Kay, 1973

Photo Unknown


Rudolf Nureyev on the Don Quixote film set, 1972

Photo Paul Cox


Nureyev joins forces with Sir Robert Helpmann to bring Don Quixote to the screen, filming over four weeks in sweltering heat in an Essendon airport hangar.

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Leonid Kozlov and Valentina Kozlova

Photo Branco Gaica


The Australian Ballet performs Nureyev's (after Petipa) Le Corsaire pas de deux

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Andrew Killian and Ako Kondo, Don Quixote, 2013

Photo Jeff Busby

1998 to 2013

The Australian Ballet performs Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote in 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2013.

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Adam Bull

Photo Rainee Lantry


The Australian Ballet celebrates their 60th anniversary season, opening with Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote.


Robert Helpmann and Rudolf Nureyev on the Don Quixote set, 1972

Photo Paul Cox

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Rudolf Nureyev, Lucette Aldous, Gailene Stock and Carolyn Rappel

Photo Paul Crowley