It was standing-room-only for both performances when Rudolph Nureyev, the dance world's longest-reigning superstar, performed at the Civic Theater over the weekend, with some of the dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet.
No spontaneous outburst of applause from the audience welcomed the star when he stepped on stage to dance his first piece--Balanchine's "Apollon Musagete"--with the Russian-born dancer in the role of Apollo. But when Nureyev returned for his solo curtain call, he brought down the house. And when he made his farewell bow, a cascade of flowers from adoring fans were tossed at his feet.
After the performance, Mayor Maureen O'Connor gave the star the key to the city in a hurried presentation made without benefit of a microphone. Later, dressed in a jet black jump suit with matching leather boots, the legendary danseur was mingling with the 267 gala guests at the nearby U.S. Grant Hotel. The formal bash was a fund-raiser for the San Diego Foundation for the Performing Arts, sponsors of the concert.
In a brief interview at the hotel, a beaming Nureyev, exhilarated from the performance, expressed his delight to be back in San Diego after a long hiatus. What's so special about our city?
"It's summer again," he said. "I love it here."
When party-goers arrived at the pre-performance dinner, they were greeted by a group of baby ballerinas in classical poses. No, the young dancers were not junior members of the Paris Opera Ballet. They were all local students from the American Ballet School getting the thrill of their lives.