Crossing the bar: Nureyev fulfilled all our requirements for artistic genius: the looks, the temperament, the perfection of technique. When he jumped the barrier to the West in 1961, we got the greatest male dancer in the world.

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The Independent Culture
In 1982, Rene Burri was sent by the New York Times to photograph Nureyev in rehearsal for Manfred, which he choreographed at the Zurich Opera House: 'They were having some problems, but there was still this sense of electricity. Nureyev was absolutely the centre of attention, like a lobster in the middle of a plate. It was a difficult time for him; he was getting older and was being very much attacked for still dancing and he simply didn't like the press, but you could tell he was still flattered, still the megastar. One day I arrived late when the rehearsal was almost over and he obviously wanted to punish me; he kept spinning round very fast and turning his back on the camera. Afterwards, as he was changing, I said, 'Rudi, I haven't enough photographs,' and he said angrily, 'what do you want to do? Do you want to photograph me naked?' And, as I watched him undress, I said, 'No not naked, but how about your foot?' He was furious 'My foot? What about my foot?' Anyway, I went to the phone and while I was talking I turned round, and there it was in my face - like a sculpture, a Rodin, an abstraction of the ruins of a dancer. Another time, I wanted to photograph him at the top of the Opera House, and he wouldn't go. 'It's too vertical,' he said. Extraordinary that he should have been afraid of heights, this man who jumped so high