Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev (Tatar: Rudolf Xämit ulı Nuriev, Russian: Рудо́льф Хаме́тович Нуре́ев) (17 March 1938 – 6 January 1993) was a Russian Tatar dancer from the former Soviet Union, primarily known for his work in ballet. 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.
He defected to the West, despite KGB efforts to stop him. According to KGB archives studied by Peter Watson, Nikita Khrushchev personally signed an order to have Nureyev killed.
Nureyev was born on a Trans-Siberian train near Irkutsk, Siberia, Soviet Union, while his mother Feride was travelling to Vladivostok, where his father Hamit, a Red Army political commissar, was stationed . He was raised as the only son in a Tatar family in a village near Ufa in Soviet republic of Bashkortostan. When his mother smuggled him and his sisters into a performance of the ballet "Song of the Cranes", he fell in love with dance. As a child he was encouraged to dance in Bashkir folk performances and his precocity was soon noticed by teachers who encouraged him to train in Leningrad. On a tour stop in Moscow with a local ballet company, Nureyev auditioned for the Bolshoi ballet company and was accepted. However, he felt that the Kirov Ballet school was the best, so he left the local touring company and bought a ticket to Leningrad.