On This Day 16 June

By TheBoldAge. Published 2020-06-16
The Dutch were banned from wearing orange clothes in 1784 and mixed bathing was permitted in Hyde Park in London in 1930. Today we look at Rudolf Nureyev who defected from the USSR in 1961

Рудольф Хәмит улы Нуриев (Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev)

Rudolf Nureyev was a Soviet ballet dancer and choreographer, born on the 17th of March 1937 on a Trans-Siberian train in Siberia. He was born to a Bashkir-Tatar family.

He started his ballet career in Leningrad with the Mariinsky Ballet and moved up the ranks quickly to become a principal dancer. He became one of the USSR's best-known dancers which eventually, in 1959, permitted him to travel outside the USSR.


This freedom was shortly lived though and not long after a trip to Vienna he was told that he would not be permitted foreign travel again.

He was included in a tour to Paris and London as the French organisers urged the Ministry to let him dance in Paris. During this trip he was monitored by KGB agents and they wanted to send him back after he was meeting with foreigners and frequenting bars which frustrated both the Mariinsky management as well as the officials.

He was told that his mother had fallen ill and he was to go home immediately to see her; he refused. Along with the French police and a friend he managed to escape his KGB minders and requested asylum. He was shortly afterwards signed by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas.


He was not permitted to visit his mother until 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev allowed the visit.

Interview with Parkinson


Other events on this day

  • 1657: the pendulum clock is patented in the Netherlands
  • 1784: Holland forbade the wearing of orange clothes
  • 1858: Abraham Lincoln "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free"
  • 1903: Ford Motor Company was founded
  • 1930: mixed bathing permitted for the first time in Hyde Park
  • 1961: Rudolf Nureyev defects from the USSR
  • 1963: Valentina Tereshkova is the first woman in space
  • 2010: Bhutan introduced the first country-wide total ban on tobacco