|copyright (c) 2011, Sharon Edmunds|
Rudolf Nureyev, 16 June 1961, Mixed Media, 30" x 22"
Fifty years ago today, on June 16th, 1961, at Le Bourget Airport, Paris, France, Rudolf Nureyev did not board the plane waiting to take The Kirov Ballet to London. Neither did he board the plane sent to take him back to Moscow. He declared himself 'Dancer' and from then on, his true country would be 'Dance'.
I have been working on a series of paintings called 'Nureyev's World'. I realized that I wanted to do a painting to mark this anniversary. This moment has so often been referred to as 'Nureyev's Leap to Freedom'. I wasn't interested in that image as a theme.
Nureyev himself, in an interview with Patricia Foy*, for the film titled 'Nureyev' seemed very displeased with the account on record of this day. As he said, 'So, I'd been told, you have to walk very slowly - six steps exactly - and say, 'I want to stay in your country'. That's exactly what I did...no jumping, no running, no screaming.'
Whatever actually happened during those moments when Nureyev was seeking asylum in Paris, the thought that came to my mind, over and over, was all about 'Fate'. No matter how you see your life, no matter how you see what your future may hold, or how you plan for it - fate steps in. And in a heartbeat, your life is changed forever.
Once that became the theme for me, I couldn't get the idea of an image adapted from a Tarot card out of my head. I thought of three cards that might have worked, but really there was only one choice. Nureyev's moment of fate was a completion and a new beginning. He would now start building his World, his way.
* Nureyev's quote is taken from the film 'Nureyev', produced and directed by Patricia Foy (c) 1991 by Antelope Films Limited/Orfeo Films Limited, RM Associates. The DVD titled 'Nureyev' is now distributed by EMI classics (c) 2008.
The image I used for the starting point of my painting is 'XXI - The World' Tarot card as represented by the Universal Waite deck of Tarot cards.