One of the most accomplished ballet dancers of the century, Rudolf Nureyev was born on March 17, 1938 near Irkustsk Soviet Union. He began dancing as a small child. Since then he has electrified audiences around the world with his unique blend of theatrics and superb technique.
He "leapt" to freedom in the West in 1961 after rising to leading roles with the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. His career over the next decades included a now-legendary partnership with Dame Margot Fonteyn at the Royal Ballet in Britain as well as guest stints with all the world's major companies.
He later became the Director of the Paris Opera Ballet. Nureyev continued dancing well into his fifties, and was only stopped due to the ravages of AIDS, from which he died in 1993.