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Within a week he was signed up by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas and was performing The Sleeping Beauty with Nina Vyroubova. Yet as the Kirov Ballet was preparing to go on a European tour Nureyev's rebellious character and a non-conformist attitude quickly made him the unlikely candidate for a trip to the West which was to be of crucial importance to the Soviet government's ambitions to portray their cultural supremacy. Originally a Soviet citizen Nureyev defected to the West in 1961 despite KGB efforts to stop him.
Originally a Soviet citizen Nureyev defected to the West in 1961 despite KGB efforts to stop him. Nureyev's artistic skills explored expressive areas of the dance providing a new role to the male ballet dancer who once served only as support to the women. According to KGB archives studied by Peter Watson Nikita Khrushchev personally signed an order to have Nureyev killed.