One has to wonder what classical dance would be today had Rudolf Nureyev not defected to the West in 1961? His dramatic escape from the U.S.S.R. snapped global attention to ballet and brought to the art a tsunami of new fans. His gorgeous swagger super-sexualized the classical danseur noble. And his stagings of various full-length ballets, so many of them filmed for posterity, were formative for balletgoers of the 1960s and 70s. Nureyev choreographed, too, but with less success. There was something finicky about his work, and his concepts could be heavy-handed. This 1992 La Bayadère, however, his last production for the Paris Opera Ballet—which he directed from 1982 until his death from AIDS in 1993—is much loved by the company. Nureyev choreographed it “after Petipa” and with his memories of the Mariinsky production much in mind. It opened the company’s 2020-21 season. —L.J.
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