17.11.11

A Russian Cemetery... Nureyev



There were many Russian emigrants in France after the 1917 Revolution. Several of them lived, were as retired taken care of, in a small castle, and were as from 1927 buried in a nearby cemetery, which as from 1927 has become a Russian Orthodox Cemetery. It’s situated at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, a Paris southern suburb, and is shared by locals.

There are now some 15000 “Russians” buried here, most of them immigrants or descendants of immigrants, although, with the changed political situation, some have been exhumed and their remains have returned to their mother country. The cemetery is really beautiful, maybe partly helped by the nice autumn colours offered by gingkos and some other trees, which had more or less managed to keep their leaves.






































Many graves have small openings, often filled with some souvenirs and by eggs, which have a great symbolic significance for the Orthodox for new life or as a connecting link between life and death.  I didn’t see any Fabergé ones, although one of the Fabergé sons is buried here.

The cemetery is served by the Dormition Church.

Among the personalities buried here you may mention several authors including Ivan Bunin, who received the Literature Nobel Prize in 1933, film directors, actors and actresses, painters… and Irena Alexandrovna, niece of the last Tsar, married to Felix Yusopov who participated in the murder of Rasputin.

One person, whose remains were never found after she was beheaded by the Nazis was the resistant Vera Obolensky, but she is remembered on a memorial and was honoured by Vladimir Poutine, when he visited the cemetery a few years ago.


Two celebrated dancers have also there tombs here. Serge Lifar was a principal dancer in the Ballets Russes and a much appreciated choreographer. He was also the ballet master at the Paris Opera for some 25 years.

The other dancer and choreographer is Rudolf Nureyev. His remarkable grave is a mosaic memorial which resembles an oriental kilim rug, which Rudolf was an admirer of (see also the top photo).

To end this post, let’s see Rudolf dance with Margot Fonteyn…
... and with Peggy Piggy.
 
I had the pleasure to make this visit together with Genie, who also made a post about it.

39 comments:

Olivier said...

tu aurais pu me dire que tu venais au cimetiere russe de Ste Genevieve, je travaille juste a cote. Un endroit magnifique et la tombe de noureev est une veritable oeuvre d'art

Mystica said...

Thank you so much for the photographs. That mosaic on Nureyev's grave is magnificient.

Maria O. Russell said...

This post leaves me speechless, with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes!

Nureyev!!!

Heather said...

This looks like an interesting cemetery to explore, and the mosaic on Nureyev's grave is impressive. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Owen said...

Can see am going to have to make a trip there... looks amazing. Thanks so much for this introduction to it... really wonderful reporting Peter, as always...

Pierre BOYER said...

Superbe...

Pierre

Thirtytwo degrees said...

The most creative finale for anyone I have seen in that mosaic oriental rug...simply beautiful...very pleased you shared this now...someone must have really loved Nuryev to create that...such a nice gesture.

ALAIN said...

La mosaïque du tombeau de Noureyev est extraordinaire...et puis le Muppet Show...vraiment drôle.

SusuPetal said...

This post has so much wonderful colors, thank you, Peter. You made a grey Finnish day shine.

M said...

This post is gorgeous! I love the brightly colored fall leaves among the tombs. And, being a lover of all things blue, I especially enjoyed all the touches of this color on the monuments. Merci for the detailed account of this cimetière.

nathalie said...

La première chose que j'ai pensé en voyant le titre c'est "tiens, il est allé faire un tour au cimetière russe avec Olivier !"

Je te préviens, si jamais tu fais un billet sur Avignon ou la région sans moi, j'te cause plus !

Bon à part ça c'est magnifique et le choix de visiter ce cimetière en automne est une riche idée, les couleurs sont merveilleuses.

Paris Paul said...

Is it just me, or is that Vladimir Putin in that one shot?

Thérèse said...

Tout y est beau.
...ces bulles bleus et les bougies qu'ils representent, pour finir avec Peggy! La journee commence bien.

hpy said...

I love the Muppets.

JM said...

The top shot is fantastic! Also love to see the graves mixed with the gorgeous autumn colours. And thanks for the Nureyew/Fonteyn video, watching them is always a pleasure. Great post, Peter.

Jilly said...

I hopped over from Genie's post and knew you'd show us the whole cemetery and best of all is the photo of Nureyev's grave. That mosaic is absolutely stunning. Amazing. Am really surprised this grave - indeed this cemetery - isn't more well-known as it would surely have a string of visitors.

A fabulous post, Peter. Love the videos!

Virginia said...

WOnderful photos PEter. I love the yellow gingko leaves on the graves. The video clips are great as well. And far be it for me to correct you, but I think that's Miss Piggy! Seems the only thing I'm an "expert" on is the Muppets!

I'm glad you and Genie found that marvelous memorial to Nureyev. What a beautiful work of art.
V

Catherine said...

what a beautiful place especially with the autumn colours - and Nuryev's oriental carpet is stunning...

Peter said...

Paris Paul and Virginia made me make two corrections of stupid mistakes. Thanks both of you! (Actually it seems to be Peggy and not Piggy.) :-)

Starman said...

I would imagine that a Fabergé egg would have been gone within seconds of being left.

this is Belgium said...

i could not say it any better than everyone else before me ! great post

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Peter, it was a wonderful adventure as we discovered our way to the cemetery only a week ago... You discovered not only the cemetery, but learned about ginko trees, too!

Oh, it really is Miss Piggy (not Peggy)...

Bises,
Genie

Peter said...

OK. I have changed back to Piggy! :-) (Virginia was right of course!)

Sbobet said...

Thanks for posting this fabulous pictures

Alba said...

Bonne idée ce billet, et ces vidéos, revu Nureyev et Margot Fonteyn avec plaisir.

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Quite Russian, indeed!

Cergie said...

Tu fais dans la grande banlieue à présent, tu auras de quoi faire...
Extra les oeufs. Ils sont symbole de vie aussi en Chine, et en France aussi d'autant qu'il fallait écouler à Pâques ceux qu'on n'avait pas mangé pendant le carême.
Un mémorial sans corps c'est un cénotaphe, qui ne contient pas de corps, comme celui de Jean Moulin au Panthéon dont le corps n'a jamais été retrouvé.

Bettina said...

What a fantastic post this is. I almost always learn something new from you Peter. Beautiful photos from a very interesting cemetery.

Have a nice weekend.

Thérèse said...

Je relaie le message trouve sur le blog hier:
"Dis à Peter de tirer sur les oreilles! Un peu tous les jours!" Signe: Hpy.

claude said...

Magnifique série Peter. Ce cimetière est très beau. Je ne connais que son entrée, un soir où mon père s'était perdu en voiture. C'était assez lugubre.
La tome de Noureyev est somptueuse. C'était un magnifique danseur. Le numéro avec Peggy la Cochonne vaut son pesant de cacahuètes, C'est très drôle.
Dis donc quand je parle bouffe, tu ne penses qu'à boire, toi !!!

Cezar and Léia said...

Bonjour Peter,
So nice that you and Genie, had a great time together!
The pictures are wonderful!
Léia

Jeanie said...

You know I love your cemetery posts, but all that wonderful color on an autumn afternoon, the beautiful shapes and colors of the Russian icons, well -- it is a perfect place to be. Nureyev would be pleased.

Maria O. Russell said...

You Did you find the tomb of Mathilde Kschessinskaya?

Fantastik post Peter.

Thank you.

arabesque said...

now this is way beyond far,
i read in Genie's blog that finding the place was a bit difficult but glad you made it and shared this story and as always learn something with a bit of a history. ^0^

Maria O. Russell said...

http://youtu.be/0b3lzmtpgCw

The great virtuosa, Agnes Letestu, Rudolf´s beloved alumna.

The Paris-born Letestu has always said that she owed everything to Rudolf Nureyev, who plucked her out of the corps de ballet to dance the role of Princess Gamzatti in his 1992 production of La Bayadère, believing that she should rapidly be nominated etoile.

He admired both her breathtaking technique and unquestionable dramatic gifts.

Lainey said...

Thank for allowing me the chance to visit the cemetery with you; it spoke to my Orthodox roots. The pictures were beautiful and the information you provided was very interesting. I really enjoy your blog as a whole and this installment in particular. Keep them coming!

Simony said...

I loved that mosaic!

ParisBreakfasts said...

An amazing source of Russian history!
MERCI!!

joanny said...

Peter:

Amazing presentation of this historic (Russian)Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Cemetery,

You bring the past alive in your photography & historic account with such vividness and detail that escapes others,

love the ending with the ballet performances, Miss Piggy is quite light on her toes, so sweet, smile..

joanny