Cover A production of Swan Lake featuring Nureyev; Photo: Charles Jude

The Alliance Française de Singapour showcases the legacy of the lauded Soviet-born ballet dancer and the evolution of ballet in this two-month long exhibition

Rudolf Nureyev's stage presence and technical prowess in the dance arts was like no other. The ballet dancer is regarded as one of the greatest of his generation and a celebrated choreographer, often recognised too for being one of the first dancers to bring ballet performances to television. 

The Soviet-born dancer first made his debut at the age of 17 with the Kirov Ballet (now known as the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg—one of the world's leading ballet companies), before defecting from the Soviet Union in 1961. His magnetism on stage would see him perform with The Royal Ballet alongside Dame Margot Fonteyn, and from 1983 to 1989, assume the role as director of the Paris Opera.

Running from now till September 15, the Alliance Française de Singapour unveils its latest exhibition, Dance: A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, showcasing the life and legacy of Nureyev. Enter the exhibition space and you'll first be greeted with a series of images of Nureyev's many ballet performances—49 unpublished photographs, to be exact—before your eyes roam to see the 14 costumes once worn by Nureyev on display.

"Heritage is key when it comes to costumes for big ballet and opera companies all over the world," shares international costume designer Leonard Augustine Choo. "They are made to withstand the test of time until they get decommissioned, so you will notice the tears, the holes, thread and missing buttons. In terms of conservation, I personally think it's fine to leave them as well as it shows you the provenance of the costumes. The act of performing results in the tears, sweat stains, missing buttons and all, so take a look at the missing pieces and consider the moment in time when it was worn, entered the stage, and lived its last breath." 

These costume pieces range from Nureyev's signature ballets, including Swan Lake and La Bayadère. Everything on showcase is on loan from Nureyev's dance protégé, Charles Jude's private collection. Jude is also formerly known as a star dancer for the Paris Opera and artistic director for the Bordeaux National Opera.

Have a walk around, and you'll notice that the space is also elegantly furnished with pieces from Singapore-based furniture brand, Akar De Nissim.

It is an honour to be able to showcase this exquisite collection from one of the most influential figures in ballet to Singapore. Dance, and ballet specifically, is hugely important to France's cultural tapestry, and we are thrilled to be incorporating this into our French Excellence programming, which showcases French expertise and history to facilitate cross-cultural understanding.
Fabian Forni, executive director of Alliance Française de Singapour

Besides the physical exhibition, there is also a series of workshops, talks and screenings to look forward to at the Alliance Française that brings together some of the greatest talents in dance. Of the exciting line-up, engage in conversation with Ariane Dollfus, French journalist and author behind her award-winning biography of Nureyev himself.

The Singapore Dance Theatre will be hosting.a series of in-studio dance presentations to give audiences a closer look into the graceful and disciplined art form, while a series of Champagne, French vodka and caviar tastings will guarantee you and your company a great time. 

Dance: A Tribute To Rudolf Nureyev is held from now till September 15, at the Alliance Française de Singapour