On This Gay Day: Ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev died in 1993


It was on this day in 1993 that one of the great ballet dancers the world had ever known passed away. Rudolf Nureyev was a giant in the world of dance and few performers have commanded the level of attention he received.

Born in Siberia he studied at the famous Kirov Ballet in Moscow and by the 1950’s was a national sensation in Russia.

In 1961 during a tour to Paris he escaped from his minders and asked for asylum in the west. It was the first defection of a soviet artist at the height of the cold war, and it caused an international sensation.

The dancer went on to tour the world, appearing in hundreds of productions and gaining international acclaim as the world’s greatest dancer. He also became a celebrated choreographer.

Nureyev’s career took him around the world, he dance for many years at London’s Royal Ballet. Here he found one of his most famous partners Dame Margot Fonteyn. Another of his partners was ballerina Lucette Aldous.

In the 1970’s he came to Australia to perform in the film version of Don Quixote opposite Aldous who had joined the Australian ballet. Aldous went on to become the a ballet lecturer at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and still lives in Perth.

In the late 1980’s Nureyev became the director of the Paris Opera Ballet. He was famous for having a many lovers and a volatile 25 year relationship with Danish dancer Erik Bruhn. At the same time he also had an open relationship with American Robert Treacy, who he met in the 1970s. Bruhn died in 1986, his death was attributed to lung cancer but friends have speculated his death was due to HIV.      

Nureyev’s final work was to stage a lavish production of La Bayadere, a ballet he had first performed at the start of his career. He was presented with France’s highest cultural honour on the opening night of the production. Just a few months later he died of an AIDS related illness in 1993 aged just 54. Nureyev spent the final months of his life in a Paris hospital.

Kate McKinnon was born on this day

Comedian and actor Kate McKinnon was born on this day in 1984.

McKinnon became the first performer on long standing program Saturday Night Live, who was open about being in a lesbian relationship. McKinnon is the show’s third LGBTIQ+ performer after Terry Sweeney and Danitra Vance.

McKinnon is still a cast member on the popular show alongside her many film appearances in works like Rough Night, Ghostbusters, Office Christmas Party, The Spy Who Dumped Me and Bombshell.

‘On This Gay Day’ is a daily post highlighting queer people and events. This post was originally published on 6th July 2020.

OIP Staff


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