September 29th, 1966 - Rudolf Nureyev performs in Paris as a free man.
In 1961, the Paris Opera was thrilled to present Russian ballet idol Rudolf Nureyev in its production of The Sleeping Beauty. Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest dancer, Nureyev was granted political asylum in France after he broke away from Soviet guards and pleaded with Parisian policemen to protect him. Said Nureyev, I could not stand people telling me what to do, forcing their ideas of how to live and what to think on me. I could not even choose my own friends.” He said he was heart-broken to leave the Leningrad Ballet Compnay, which he called the best in the world. Nureyev expanded his repertoire along less traditional lines and did not see the Soviet Union again until the age of 49, 26 years after his defection.