Nureyev collection, Centre National du Costume de Scene

The museum has a collection of Rudolf Nureyev’s costumes, as requested in his will to be a “place of memory”. Nureyev, who has been the Paris Opera Ballet director had wished to have his collection placed in a museum in Paris, but suitable locations could not be found. So, his collection was placed in the museum in this Auvergne region museum, which is about 3 hours by train from Paris. It is “a permanent collection that offers visitors a sense of his exuberant, vagabond personality and passion for all that was rare and beautiful.” The collection has historical artifacts from Nureyev’s career including film and photograph material, in addition to 70 costumes.

Nureyev sought a matador look, with a snug-fitting jacket cut short to lengthen his legs. The armhole seam had to be exactly placed so his movements would not be hindered. He favored details that underscored artistic themes. A silver-blue jacket for his Prince Siegfried from the first act of a 1984 Swan Lake echoes the watery locale where the hero meets his true love, with metallic threads flowing over the shoulders like rapids. For Don Quixote, Nureyev preferred a billowing sleeve, as evidenced by a creation from Greek designer Nicholas Georgiadis in rust, wine and gold. The velvet cascades of the women’s dresses, trimmed in coins and tassels, hint at the choreography’s noisy fury.
— Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post

It was shown the De Young Museum in San Francisco, California through 17 February 2013 in a show entitled Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance.

Permanent space
The Nureyev collection today housed in the CNCS exhibits important pieces of the Rudolf Nureyev heritage: stage costumes illustrating the dancer’s entire career, pieces of furniture, high quality paintings and etchings. It evokes both his professional career and his personal tastes.

The Nureyev Collection at the CNCS
Insatiable dancer, Rudolf Nureyev (1938-93) traveled around the world to dance on all of the greatest stages. This energy and enthusiasm, characteristic of his career, can also be found in his private life. An insatiable collector, he bought many works of art, paintings, sculptures, etchings, engravings, furniture, exotic textiles and musical instruments to decorate some of the properties he acquired during his travels and according to his desires. A regular visitor to auction houses, antique dealers, shops or souks of all countries, little by little he amassed an incredible collection.

Three hundred objects saved from the auctions of Rudolf Nureyev’s estate have found their final resting place at the CNCS. The Nureyev Foundation esteems that the center will know how best to ensure the remembrance and valorization of this collection as Nureyev wished.

Nureyev and the costume
Rudolf Nureyev has always attached the greatest importance to the esthetics of the stage and in particular the costumes. As a dancer, he sought to highlight his body wearing a doublet that he evolved little by little and used as the basis for all of his costumes irrespective of the style of the production.

In order to lengthen his body he abandoned the use of the “prudish” shorts, to wear only tights that accentuated the musculature of his legs.

Then, he removed the skirt to leave just short doublets. Gradually the characteristics of his doublets changed: low-cut necklines to show his neck, armscyes raised very high to free the arms; the waist, very thin is highlighted by the use of oblique darts at the front and the doublet often ends in a point.

Decorations, embroideries, braids, stones…, are always applied to the costumes according to precise positioning. This taste for opulent esthetics drove him to work with decorators and costumes designers like Nicholas Georgiadis, Martin Kamer, Ezio Frigerio, Franca Squarciapino, Hanae Mori, Petrika Ionesco…

The Rudolf Nureyev foundation has chosen Moulins
Rudolf Nureyev created his foundation in 1975 under the name « The Ballet Promotion Founda­tion ». At the beginning designed to help his family that had remained in the U.S.S.R. it also supported dancers, troops, ballet schools or even the organization of shows. After his death, it became the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation in 1994, keeping the same great missions. Action is also planned in medical, humanitarian and scientific fields. Finally, the dancer had assigned the foundation with the task of creating a place dedicated to his memory.

Shortly after the opening of the CNCS, in 2008, the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation donated all of the objects in its possession that that had belonged to Rudolf Nureyev. Thanks to its support a large number of the pieces are displayed to the public in the exhibition rooms dedicated to this collection.

The Nureyev Collection
The Nureyev Foundation, in conformance with Nureyev’s wishes, selected the cncs to house the Nureyev Collection. The permanent exhibition, designed by Ezio Frigerio, dedicated to the Nureyev Collection, commemorates the exceptional career of this great 20th century dancer, his work as choreographer, his lifestyle, his taste for opulent interior decoration, his passion as collector (objects, furniture, textiles) and his love of music.

Nureyev, dancer
Nureyev played a major role in the evolution of male dance in the 20th century. He kept the force and technique of the classical dancer but refined them to an extreme. From the beginning of his career he reworked the major male roles to give them more importance and virtuosity. He interprets his roles as an actor, with charisma and dramatic truth. After him, this type of interpretation became the rule for all male dancers.

Nureyev and stages costumes
Rudolf Nureyev attached great importance to his own costumes and those of his productions. On stage he sought to put his body to best advantage without hampering his movement. In order to lengthen his line, he abandoned the short pants worn for modesty’s sake, and wore only tights, which showed off his legwork to better advantage. Then, to free his movement even more, he shortened the line of the doublets to just above the waist. Little by little, the characteristics of his costume became clearer, and by the 1960s a model for a doublet evolved which would be the base for all his future costumes, no matter what the style of the production.

Doublet for the role of the Prince in the “Nutcracker”
Pas de deux, unknown costume designer, 1962. Silk, faille, glass beads. CNCS – 2013.1.1

Pair of dance shoes (ballet slippers)
Last quarter of the 20th century, London. Leather. CNCS, donation from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation.

Chaussons de danse
Doublet for the role of Romeo
“Romeo and Juliet”, act II. Costume by Ezio Frigerio, 1977, London Festival Ballet. Velvet, silver lamé, silk. CNCS, donation from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. RN-77RJ002

Costume for the role of the Harlequin
“Harlequin, magician for love”. Costume by Claudie Gastine, 1984, Opéra Comique, Paris. Sateen, paint, leather. CNCS / National Opera of Paris. D-ONP-85AM001

Nureyev, choreographer
During his career he remounted or created around fifteen ballets, most of which are still danced today by the most prestigious dance companies. These productions are sometimes very close to the original choreographies, as is the case of La Bayadère, which had previously been unknown in the West. In other cases they are given a new interpretation, as in Cinderella, which Nureyev chose to place in the America of the 1930s. He also created new one-act ballets, which are witness to his insatiable cultural appetite. He was often inspired by music (Bach Suite) or by literature (Manfred,The Tempest, Washington Square).

Costume worn by Sylvie Guillem for the role of Cinderella
“Cinderella”, act II. Costume by Hanae Mori, 1986, National Opera of Paris. Muslin, silk, sequins, feathers. CNCS / National Opera of Paris. D-ONP-86CE001

Nureyev, choreographer 2
Tutu worn by Noëlla Pontois for the role of Nikiya in “La Bayadère” (The Temple Dancer)
“La Bayadère”, act III, known as the act of shadows. Costume by Martin Kamer, 1974, National Opera of Paris. White satin, silver lamé, black braids, silver, pearls. CNCS/ National Opera of Paris, D – ONP – 74BA002

Costume de Nikiya dans “La Bayadère” porté par… (1974)
by Martin Kamer

Biography

Room 3
The third room is devoted to Nureyev as a collector. It houses a reconstitution of the inside his Parisian home.

Nureyev’s homes
At the end of his life, Nureyev possessed seven properties around the world: an apartment in a town house at 23 Quai Voltaire in Paris, another in The Dakota in New York, a farm in Virginia, a house in London, villas in Saint-Barthélémy and in Monte Carlo and another on Li Galli islands in Italy. Nureyev was a true nomad, dancing on stages worldwide, and did not live much in his residences. These served however as homes to the collections which he amassed compulsively all during his life in the West. The Paris apartment, bought in 1979 was the place Nureyev lived in most. Emilio Carcano, interior decorator and theater designer, created an opulent, theatrical interior around the furniture.

Porte manteau and hats

Hat stand
Anonymous, CNCS, donation from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. RN.2008.314

Collection of hats belonging to Rudolf Nureyev
Second half of the 20th century
Leather and textile, CNCS, donation from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation

Occasional table and teapot

Pedestal table
Russia, 19th century
Karelian Birch, CNCS, donation from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. RN.2008.16

Teapot and its base
Anonymous England, 19th century
Silver, ivory, CNCS, donation from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. RN.2008.14

Hofberg Harmonium
Germany, 20th century. Wood. CNCS, donation from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. RN.2008.18

The tomb
Rudolf Nureyev, suffering from AIDS, passed away in Paris on June 6th, 1993. According to his last wishes he was laid to rest in the Russian Cemetery at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois in the Paris region. The civil ceremony took place on January 12th, 1993 at the Palais Garnier.
Entirely covered in Mosaic, his tombstone represents the kilim oriental rug that was so dear to the artist. It was created by the set designer Ezio Frigerio who had worked with Nureyev on several occasions.

National Center of Stage Costume
Centre National du Costume de Scene (CNCS), is a French museum dedicated to stage costumes and sets.

It was inaugurated on 1 July 2006 in Moulins, Allier by Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres the Minister of Culture, Pierre-André Périssol the mayor of Moulins and Christian Lacroix, dressmaker and board chairman. The current director is Delphine Pinasa, whose portrait is exhibited at the museum.

The National Center of Stage Costume is the first preservation structure, in France or abroad, to be entirely devoted to the material heritage of theaters.
Its mission is the preservation, study and valorization of a heritage collection of 10,000 theater, opera and ballet costumes in addition to painted stage sets, provided by the three founding institutions of the center, the National Library of France, the Comédie-Française and the National Opera of Paris. The center has also received numerous donations from artists and theaters.

Collections
Made up of around 10 000 costumes and scenery elements from the middle of the 19th century to the present day, the collections come from theatres, operas, ballets like the national Opera of Paris, the Comédie-Française and the National Library of France.

The museum has a collection of Rudolf Nureyev’s costumes, as requested in his will to be a “place of memory”. Nureyev, who has been the Paris Opera Ballet director had wished to have his collection placed in a museum in Paris, but suitable locations could not be found. So, his collection was placed in the museum in this Auvergne region museum, which is about 3 hours by train from Paris. It is “a permanent collection that offers visitors a sense of his exuberant, vagabond personality and passion for all that was rare and beautiful.” The collection has historical artifacts from Nureyev’s career including film and photograph material, in addition to 70 costumes.

Stage costumes
Several stage companies and theatres, including the Comédie Française and Paris Opera, send their costumes to the museum after their final show. At the museum they are available to be exhibited and preserved. They are also available to researchers and students for study.

The collections: the memory of legendary institutions and artists
Even if stage costumes represented a most important heritage in terms of expenditure and property for the theatres, there had never been a real policy of protecting them until the creation of the center. They bear witness to the creativity of the costume designers that drew them and the know-how of the workshops that made them. They carry in them the traces of the artists that enhanced them on stage.

The oldest costumes date back to the 18th century. They are authentic clothes (male frock coats and waistcoats) given to or bought by the Comédie-Française after the French Revolution to be used in a repertory of 18th century inspiration (Marivaux, Beaumarchais…). In addition to these exceptional pieces, the collection includes mostly costumes from productions created since the second half of the 19th century. The project originated in 1995 when the Ministry of Culture and Communication solicited the major national institutions, the National Library of France (Performing Arts Department), the Comédie-Française and the National Opera of Paris to constitute the first collection made up of 8500 costumes for the opening of the CNCS.

The collection provided by the National Library of France reflects the richness and variety of the Performing Art Department’s collection. It includes the costumes of the Renaud-Barrault troop, the Théâtre de l’Atelier under the direction of Charles Dullin, the Théâtre du Campagnol directed by Jean-Claude Penchenat in addition to Philippe Guillotel’s costumes for the Albertville Olympic Games dramatized by Philippe Decouflé, in 1992.

The collection of the Comédie-Française covers three centuries of the history of this great theatre. The costumes were made in well-renowned sewing workshops notably for the historical clothing. Certain were created by Suzanne Lalique, Lila de Nobili or Thierry Mugler and worn by Sarah Bernhardt, Mounet-Sully or Jean Marais…

The collection of the National Opera of Paris includes 5000 opera and ballet costumes covering a period of a hundred and fifty years from 1872, with costumes designed by Bakst, Benois, Derain, Cocteau… Most of them were made in the sewing workshops of the opera and worn by all of the greatest stars, Serge Lifar, Yvette Chauviré, Maria Callas, Rudolf Nureyev, Régine Crespin, Luciano Pavarotti…

The CNCS houses an exceptional collection of around 2000 drawings and models of costumes created by Christian Lacroix for stage (opera, dance and theatre). The fashion designer Frank Sorbier has also donated his costume models for two operas, the Traviata and The Tales of Hoffmann.

A collection of stage scenery elements
The National Center of Stage Costumes and Scenography houses a collection of painted canvases, decorative elements and stage machinery (chassis, lifting equipment, masts, praticables, tools) dating from the middle of the 20th century. In this continuity, several contemporary dance troops have bequeathed some of their stage sets along with their costume donations.

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