Biographical/historical: Rudolf Nureyev, born March 17, 1938, started his dance career as an amateur folk dancer but later (1955-1958) studied at the Leningrad Choreographic School under Aleksandr Pushkin. He entered the Kirov Ballet where for the next three years he danced principal roles with the leading ballerinas of the company. In 1961, on a company tour to Paris, where his performances were greatly admired, he was ordered to return to Russia instead of continuing to London with the company. His career at that point having been an almost continuous conflict with the authorities, he decided instead to request political asylum. In the West he first appeared with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas and then in a London Royal Academy of Dancing Gala at the invitation of Margot Fonteyn. This latter appearance was the beginning of a long association with Fonteyn and the Royal Ballet. He also appeared throughout the world dancing and staging classical choreography as well as performing modern repertory such as Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand, Roland Petit's Paradise Lost, Maurice Béjart's Songs of a Wayfarer, Martha Graham's Lucifer and Rudy Van Dantzig's Ulysses. He also mounted full productions of La Bayadère, Raymonda, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, and Romeo and Juliet. In 1972, Nureyev starred in the full-length film I am a Dancer; in 1974-1975, appeared on Broadway in a program entitled Nureyev and Friends; and later in an extended American tour of the musical The King and I. In 1983, he became director of the Paris Opéra Ballet, for which he created contemporary and classical works including his last, the 1992 La Bayadère. Having been diagnosed with AIDS virus in 1984, a fact he steadfastly refused to publicly acknowledge, he succumbed to the disease on January 6, 1993, age 54, in Paris.