In the cemetery of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois, in Paris, lies the tomb of Rudolf Nureyev, the famous classical dancer. At first glance, it seems that the tomb is covered by a delicate handmade carpet. However, it is not a fabric, nor a carpet, but a handmade mosaic, whose spectacular design simulates a large carpet.
The kilim of Rudolf Nureyev’s tomb.
It is designed by one of Nureyev’s friends, Ezio Frigerio, imitates a wonderful kilim. The kilim is a Russian technique for weaving handmade carpets that, in ancient times, were used to cover the coffins of wanderers.
The mosaic covering Nureyev’s coffin is so realistic that it became the main attraction of the Parisian cemetery. In this cemetery also rests Sege Lifar, the former director of the Moscow ballet. It often happens that this holy field is called the Russian cemetery of Paris, because it contains the tombs of many exiles and immigrants.
A child with a passion for dance
Rudolf Jamétovich Nureyev is considered one of the most exalted dancers of the 20th century. He was born in the city of Irkutsk, in the then Soviet Union, on March 17, 1938, in the bosom of a poor family. His father was a soldier, and he was constantly moved with his wife and four children. The family lived with a very precarious economy. That is why Rudolf wore the clothes he inherited from his older sisters.
At the age of 5, his mother took him to see a ballet performance for the first time. Thus was born in the child the passion that would mark his life. However, Rudolf’s taste for dance was not a good choice for his father, who did not see this as a good thing and therefore whipped him to change his mind.
The talented dance teacher, Anna Udaltsova, who was already shining in the prestigious Diaghilev company, detected the young man’s amazing potential. From that moment on, she became his mentor and guide, molding his path to greatness in the world of ballet.
As Rudolf grew and perfected his art, fate had in store for him an encounter that would mark a turning point in his career. He would meet Elena Vaitovich, another notable figure in the world of dance, and together with Anna, they would convince Rudolf to embark on an exciting journey to the Leningrad Choreographic School. Thus began a period full of challenges and learning, where Rudolf would blossom into an extraordinary talent. Nureyev graduated in 1958 and began his ascending career that took him to the top and was admired all over the world.
One of the most outstanding dancers of the 20th century.
In 1961, the company in which he performed had to tour Europe, and they included the dancer at the last minute. While in Paris and before returning to the Soviet Union, on May 17, 1962 Nureyev asked for political asylum in France. It was there, where he began the stage of his career that led him to become one of the best dancers of the twentieth century.
He had a refined taste for handmade carpets. At a performance of Romeo And Juliet in Paris, he met Ezio Frigerio, with whom he struck up a warm friendship. It was Frigerio who designed the mosaic that covers Rudolf’s tomb.
In 1983 he was diagnosed with HIV, the disease that would end his life only at the age of 55. Rudolf Nureyev died in 1993 in Paris.