Filmmaker Moze Mossanen brings international intrigue and artistic genius together in his new Bravo! production Nureyev, about the great Russian dancer who famously, dangerously defected in a Paris airport during the Cold War, and then revolutionized ballet in the West while evading Soviet recapture.
Rudolf Nureyev’s wild elfin beauty, his genius and his limitless technique present a self-evident casting nightmare, but lithe Nico Archembault, winner of 2008’s So You Think You Can Dance competition, has the necessary talent and the charismatic handsomeness. Still, playing Nureyev is a daunting task.
“He remade the male dancer’s role,” says Archembault by phone. “Before Nureyev, men on stage were mostly props that women danced around. Nureyev changed everything. He was physically one of the greatest dancers who ever lived, and he was also mysterious yet flamboyant.”
Archembault is an all-round dancer, a master of many styles, but moving into the purely ballet realm is tough. Professionals can spend a decade or more getting some of those moves right. Ballet makes some unique demands on the body that modern and jazz styles don’t require.
Luckily, Archembault, who recently danced in a Janet Jackson video, has a complete background to build upon for the challenge of performing as Nureyev, including classical ballet.
“Ballet has been part of my routine all my life,” he says, “it’s always been part of my warm up and my work out. And since I got the role, I’ve been concentrating on ballet, with lots of private lessons.”