Not too far from Paris there is the Orthodox Cemetery Sainte Geneviève des Bois which host many Russians corpses buried nearby the French capital. Amongst them there is also the remains of Rudol’f Chametovič Nureev, one of the greatest dancers and choreographer of the 20th century. What immediately catches the eye is the peculiar way his grave was built.

BElow: Rudol’f Nureev nel 1973, pic by Allan Warren shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons 3.0

The headstone is covered by a mosaic shaped as a Kazakh kilim, a high quality carpet woven as a tapestry that the dancer was particularly fond of. The work was designed by the set designer Ezio Frigerio and crafted by the team Akomena, from Ravenna (Italy). The sculpture has been conceived to create the illusion that, underneath the carpet, there was a coffin even though the actual coffin is buried below the ground level.

Pic by Vitold Muratov shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons

The artwork, made up of thousands of tiles in 20 different shades of red an 10 tones of gold, as well as other types of colours such as a multitude of blues. The sculpture, cold as the marble that it “upholsters”, misleads the observer which instead would imagine a warm and fluffy material in front of their eyes.

Rudol’f Nureev in Paris in 1961

Rudol’f Nureev, who earned a huge success during his life as a choreographer and dancer, died in Paris on the 6th of gennaio 1993 due to complications with HIV, disease which was affecting him in his last few years. With a laical celebration, along with him, they buried his ballet shoes that to this day are still resting with him, underneath this precious Caucasian mosaic.

After his departure, all his enormous properties were put up for auction and nowadays fund The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation, organisation aiming for the promotion of cultural philanthropic initiatives, helping old dancers and supporting new talents as well as supporting the HIV research.

Below: the map of the Orthodox Cemetery Sainte Geneviève des Bois

Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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