Nureyev & Fonteyn

Depending on where you live, the “recently released” or “soon to be released” bio-film Mao’s Last Dancer is out. It’s the more-or-less true adaptation of the autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer by the Chinese ballet star who defected in Texas, Li Cunxin.

Of course, you can’t help but think of the Russian ballet star who defected in Paris a generation before Cunxin.

On 17 June 1961 Rudolf Nureyev defected from Russia. He would not be allowed to return for the next 28 years.

On 21 February 1962 Nureyev and Fonteyn performed together for the first time. They would perform together for the next 26 years. They have defined ballet partnering for all time.


The Royal Ballet
The Royal Opera House
Covent Garden
Vaneeesa Blaylock is Rudolf Nureyev
Agnes Sharple is Margot Fonteyn

The role of The Royal Opera House is performed by
The Rose Theater Opera House – Kaya Angel & Elvera Lerner

Photographs by Zoë Dominic & Houston Rogers

Blaylock / Nureyev avatar:
Skin: Eloh Eliot, pleiades
Hair: Adam & Eve, girl next door
Kurta & Churidar: Zaara Kohime
Flats: Keri Clip

Sharple / Fonteyn avatar
Skin: Tacky Star
Hair: Vignette
Shirt: fri day
Skirt: Shush

What does it mean to live in this world?

What does it mean to be an avatar?

Why do we prefer more-or-less human form over being the planet saturn, or a white cloud?

We search for insight into what it means to be alive in the virtual world by channeling two artists who, for a time, were as alive in the physical world as perhaps anyone has ever been.

We may not always privilege human-form bodies in virtual worlds the way we do now. Yet, indeed, the much celebrated / derided “pixel sex” is testament to how powerful bodily identity is for us.

Is virtuality the death of the human body?
Or the golden age of the human body?

In reliving this moment of Nureyev and Fonteyn we both celebrate and transcend the body; we summon their elegance and power to somehow ennoble these virtual lives we live; we appreciate, with simplicity and grace, the living moments of a man and a woman, from a half century ago.

For more and larger images, visit Nureyev21 on flickr:

As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

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