Rudolf Nureyev was one of several world caliber gay and bisexual ballet dancers to come out of the Russia/the Soviet Union in the 20th century. He is credited with establishing an elevated role for male ballet dancers who had previously been used more as a support system for the female leads.In addition to numerous modern dance and ballet pieces, Nureyev had roles in several films, as well as a comedic guest appearance on The Muppet Show. Although he was raised in the Soviet Union he impulsively defected while on tour in France, an incident which led to a decades-long grudge from the KGB that kept him from returning to his home country until he was dying from AIDS and in a poor state to perform.
It is uncertain whether Nureyev would be better described as gay or bisexual. His on and off partner of 25 years was a fellow dancer, a Dane named Erik Bruhn, but he did have heterosexual relationships in his younger years.