Friday, June 16, 1961: Rudolf Nureyev defects

The star of the Soviet Union's Kirov Ballet, 23-year-old Rudolf Nureyev, defects to the West at Le Bourget airport in Paris. The ballet company was en route to London, but Nureyev had been told by Soviet authorities -- who had become increasingly suspicious of his behavior of late -- that he was to fly back to Moscow instead. (Photo by Richard Avedon, Paris 1961.)

* Official website of Rudolf Nureyev Foundation: @
* Summary of defection from BBC and history.com: @ and @
* Footage of Nureyev in Paris just after defection: @
* August 28 story from Stars and Stripes: @
* "Le Corsaire" (with Margot Fonteyn, 1962): @
* Solo debut on U.S. television (1963): @
* "Nureyev: The Life" (book by Julie Kavanagh): @

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