Rudolf Nureyev, the principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet, was released from the guards of the Russian embassy at the airport in Paris and asked France for asylum.

A 23-year-old Russian dancer ran through the security barriers at Le Bourget Airport and shouted “I want to be free” in English.

Nureyev is understood to have been approached by two Russian guards while waiting to board a BEA Vanguard plane bound for London with the rest of the troops.

The guards informed him that he needed to return to Moscow instead of going to London, but he was escorted by the Russian aircraft he was waiting for, so he made his dash for freedom.

He was taken to the airport police station by two French police officers, followed by two ferocious Russian police officers, followed by fierce debate.

He was soon granted temporary asylum in France and his case was referred to an office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons.

The Leningrad Kirov Ballet continued its journey to London without a principal dancer. They have just finished their three-week season in Paris next week and will start their four-week season at Covent Gardens.

There is widespread speculation that Rudolf Nureyev fell in love with 21-year-old Clarasan, the daughter of a wealthy Chilean painter based in Paris, during his stay in Paris.

His relationship with Miss Saint and other members of Parisian society raised concerns for Russian authorities and was clearly the main reason behind the summons to Moscow.

But Miss Saint said she was simply a friend of Mr Nureyev, and here “there was nothing serious” among them.

She states: “I don’t know why he sought political asylum here. At last night’s party, he looked completely normal and happy.

“I believe he decided to seek protection for France only after two Soviet embassy officials had told him he had to return to Moscow instead of London.”

Nureyev is also known to have become friends with Sergei Diaghilev, a former director of the Paris Opera Ballet in the 1920s and the star of Ballets Russes in Russia’s Impresario Diaghilev.

And it is believed that the outlook for his future career under Mr. Riffer’s guidance may have influenced Mr. Nureyev’s decision to stay in France.

Courtesy BBC News

In context

Within a week of his asylum, Rudolf Nureyev was registered by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas in Paris.

He never returned to Russia, settled in the west and soon became an international star.

He is considered by many to be the greatest male dancer of the 20th century.

Early in his career, Nureyev had a hard time accepting his homosexuality.

However, after he settled in the west, he had relationships with several well-known men, including Royal Swedish Ballet director Erik Bruhn and movie star Anthony Perkins.

He died of an AIDS-related illness on January 6, 1993. According to his last wish, Rudolf Nureyev was buried in a Russian cemetery in Sainte-Genevieve de Bois near Paris.

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