#TBT: Rudolf Nureyev in “Swan Lake” (1964)

At the end of Swan Lake's Act I, Prince Siegfried finds himself alone after guests have departed from his birthday celebration, processing the news that he'll soon need to choose a wife. The soul-searching prince dances an introspective, almost mournful solo that is one of the most challenging male variations in the classical repertoire. Rudolf Nureyev, a formidable performer and a relentless technician, gives an inspired interpretation of the solo in this clip from a 1964 Vienna State Opera performance.


Nureyev's generous artistry reveals the worry weighing on Prince Siegfried's mind. He captivates with his emotional and technical control throughout the exposed adagio variation. He lands slow jumps in deep, supple pliés, and piqués with breathless balances. Yearning renversés show the geometry of his attitude line from every angle. In the final moments of the variation, Nureyev's perfectionism in full force: from a slow fouetté, he lands in a wide fourth position that releases into a triple arabesque pirouette. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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