In Genoa with a dancing step: Nureyev at the Bristol Palace | Hotel Bristol Palace - 5 stars Hotel


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In Genoa with a dancing step: Nureyev at the Bristol Palace

In Genoa with a dancing step: Nureyev at the Bristol Palace


Fri, 11/26/2021 - 10:00

The façade of the Bristol Palace

Since it opened at the start of the last century, the Bristol Palace has welcomed a host of celebrities to Genoa: from political figures such as the Emperor Hirohito, the Infanta of Spain, Isaac and Lea Rabin, Simon Perez and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, to scientists and intellectuals such as Dario Fo and Margarita Hack, from writers such as De Amicis, D’Annunzio, Montale and Pirandello, to actors such as Alberto Sordi and Vittorio de Sica, musicians such as Uto Ughi and Rostropovich, the singer Andrea Bocelli and director Alfred Hitchcock who, according to legend, drew inspiration from the elliptical staircase at the entrance for his film Vertigo. Another of the most illustrious guests was the unforgettable Rudolf Nureyev.

The Russian ballet dancer who conquered the world 

On March 17 1939, Nureyev’ mother was travelling by train to join her husband, a people’s commissar stationed in Vladivostok. It was during the journey, in a carriage on the Trans-Siberian railway, that Rudolf was born – an omen of a life in which he would travel the world. As a youngster he moved from folk dancing to ballet, studying in Leningrad under the guidance of Alexander Pushkin. He soon became the principal dancer with the Kirov ballet (now Marisky), and his star began to shine on this side of the Iron Curtain too. On tour in Paris in 1961, he made a daring escape and asked for political asylum, thereby initiating what was to become a common practice for many Russian artists. In a career spanning 30 years, Nureyev established himself as one of the best – if not the best – ballet dancer who ever lived. He worked with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, the Royal Danish Ballet with Erik Bruhn, and then with the Royal Ballet in London, where he formed a solid partnership with Margot Fonteyn. He was just 54 when he died on June 6 1993, but the mark he has left in the collective memory is indelible.. 

Nureyev in Genoa: the star at the Nervi Festival

Going back to June 1961, when Nureyev asked for political asylum in Paris, he was signed by one of the most important ballet companies, the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, directed by Raimondo De Larrain. His escape became an international incident and everyone sought him out. Marco Porcile, artistic director of the Nervi International Ballet Festival, seized the chance to come to terms with the Grand Ballet and bring the young star to Genoa.
This was the first time Nureyev had set foot in the city and he stayed at the Bristol Palace. We can almost imagine his deft dance steps echoing along the hotel corridors as he mentally rehearses the choreography for Sleeping Beauty. That summer, in fact, Nervi, a suburb of Genoa famous for its parks, romantic gardens and historical villas, staged a performance of the ballet with him, Yvette Chauviré and Rosella Hightower. The following year, Marco Porcile invited Nureyev back, this time with the Royal Ballet, to dance Swan Lake with, for the first time, the étoile Margot Fonteyn, with whom he formed an iconic duo, as he was to do later with Carla Fracci. In subsequent years, Nureyev often came to Genoa, and stayed every time at the Bristol. 


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