From an early age Rudolf Nureyev was passionately interested in film. The Rodina cinema in Ufa was a source of endless pleasure and established for him an early appreciation of film as an important medium for entertainment, education, information and record. It was here that he first saw Charlie Chaplin, who remained a continuous influence on his approach to comedy. And so it went on throughout his life as he seized every opportunity to see films and to use film and video as a means of widening public interest in dance, mostly through television broadcasts, in performance or in interview.
From his own viewpoint as a performer film gave him the means of checking style and technical correction in rehearsal and performance. Productions he could not easily get to, and which he wanted to see, could sometimes be available by these means. The first time he saw Martha Graham was on film.
Film mattered hugely to him, and on his death it was quickly realised that a way of perpetuating his memory was to ensure that every relevant film or video concerning Rudolf was collected in an archive and not only preserved for posterity but made available, as far as copyright conditions permitted, for students and dance scholars to view.
Wallace Potts, a close friend of Rudolf's and a film maker himself, was engaged in 1993 by the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation as Film Archivist, a position he held until his death 2 years ago. He has been succeeded by Rosalind Bentley, a widely experienced film archivist. Wallace collected every known, and some unknown, commercial and private films involving Rudolf in rehearsal, performance, interview and at leisure. It has been a long and painstaking task arriving at a point where a major institution, equipped with conservation facilities and the means of meeting the Foundation's demands for public access, could be approached and asked to accept this important and compelling archive.
This is now housed in the New York Public Library at the Lincoln Centre, with part of the collection also available at the Centre Nationale de Dance in Paris. Details of how this can be accessed can be found at the following web sites:
1, rue Victor Hugo 93500 Pantin
Tel : 01 41 83 98 00 / F 01 41 83 98 01