In English, “le jeune homme et la mort” translates to “the young man and death.” There’s no missing the somber tone in this clip of Roland Petit’s short ballet. As the young man, Rudolf Nureyev dances in a reverie to the melancholic organ chimes. Throughout the technical tricks and complicated prop maneuvering that peppers Petit’s choreography, Nureyev never loses his trance-like stare. The reason for his reverie soon strides through the door.
Nureyev's impact on ballet reaches beyond his dancing. Not only did he increase the attention paid to male dancers at a time when most audiences focused almost solely on the ballerinas, he insisted on raising the level of ballet costumes.