Photos of famed Russian dancer on display

Norte Maar, Rudolf Nureyev, The Royal Ballet, Robin ClaudellPress-Republican, December 2nd, 2004

By Robin Caudell

ROUSES POINT — “Nureyev; The Ropes of Time” is a timeless exhibition of the great Russian-born ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

Norte Maar for the Collaborative Projects in the Arts presents 24 black-and-white photographs featuring Nureyev performing as “The Traveler,” his starring role in the ballet expressly choreographed for him by Rudy van Dantzig, artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet.

London’s Royal Ballet premiered “The Ropes of Time” on March 2, 1970 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

The Norte Maar exhibition images were taken by photographers Leslie E. Spatt, Fredericka Davis, Edward Griffiths and Louis Peres.

They were all invited to the same dress rehearsal by the Royal Ballet to photograph Nureyev and the cast of “Life” (Diana Vere) and “Death” (Monica Mason) and a corps of dancers.

“The images come from different sources,” said Jason Andrew of the Rouses Point-based Norte Maar.

“They are press photographs.”

The reverse of some of the images have notes and photographers’ stamps. Andrew purchased two images in a portfolio sold to him on a New York city street for $5.

“The main purpose of the exhibition is education,” Andrew said.

“I was able to put together a cohesive of this one singular ballet that was made for Nureyev. It’s taken awhile to put all these photographs together, maybe 15 years. Four are from a collection in London. Six are from a collection in New York City. I have 14.”

Besides being the first full-scale ballet choreographed for Nureyev, it was the first Royal Ballet production with an electronic-music score by composer Gyorgi Ligeti. Toer van Schayk designed the costumes and futuristic set.

The exhibition features an original program on loan from LABAN Library and Archives in London.

The program contains this quote by English dance critic Richard Buckle:

Every journey we make is an adventure into the unknown; each arrival a birth and each departure a death.”

An October opening gala was held to benefit the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York. Those in attendance included many who had the chance to see Nureyev dance before he died of AIDS in 1993.

“Of all the ballet dancers classically trained, Nureyev was able to show emotion in so many ways,” Andrew said.

“He would simply open his mouth. He’s famous for flaring his nostrils. Classical purists found that sort of expression grotesque. It doesn’t really fit the aesthetics.”

Long after “The Ropes of Time” images were first snapped, Nureyev emotes uncertainty, hope, joy and despair.

“I never got the chance to see him dance. I’ve seen a lot of the footage. It’s nice to have those images.”

Besides the prints, the exhibition features a blue-and-red lithograph of Nureyev by Andy Warhol.

Lester Persky hosted a party at Warhol’s factory for the 50 “Most Beautiful Poeple” in the spring of 1965.

The most beautiful who showed up included Nureyev, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Tennessee Williams and Judy Garland.

“The lithographs are very indicative of Andy Warhol’s period of working at the factory and his quest to photograph and capture images of superstars, as he called them,” Andrew said.

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