elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Erik Bruhn & Rudolf Nureyev

Erik Belton Evers Bruhn (October 3, 1928 – April 1, 1986) was a Danish danseur, choreographer, company director, actor, and author.

Bruhn met Rudolf Nureyev, the celebrated Tatar dancer, after Nureyev defected to the West in 1961. Nureyev was a great admirer of Bruhn, having seen filmed performances of the Dane on tour in Russia with American Ballet Theatre, although stylistically the two dancers were very different. Bruhn became the great love of Nureyev's life and the two remained close for 25 years, until Bruhn's death.

Erik Bruhn was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the fourth child and first son of Ellen (née Evers), owner of a hairdressing salon, and third child of Ernst Bruhn. His parents married shortly before his birth. Bruhn began training with the Royal Danish Ballet when he was nine years old, and made his unofficial début on the stage of Copenhagen's Royal Opera House in 1946, dancing the role of Adonis in Harald Lander's ballet Thorvaldsen. He was taken permanently into the company in 1947 at the age of eighteen. Bruhn took the first of his frequent sabbaticals from the Danish company in 1947, dancing for six months with the short-lived Metropolitan Ballet in England, where he formed his first major partnership, with the Bulgarian ballerina Sonia Arova. He returned to the Royal Danish Ballet in the spring of 1948 and was promoted to soloist in 1949, the highest level a dancer can attain in the Danish ballet. Later in 1949, he again took a leave of absence and joined American Ballet Theatre in New York, where he would dance regularly for the next nine years, although his home company continued to be the Royal Danish Ballet.

The turning point in Bruhn's international career came on May 1, 1955 with his début in the role of Albrecht in Giselle partnering Dame Alicia Markova, nearly twenty years his senior, in a matinée with Ballet Theatre in New York after only three days of rehearsal. The performance caused a sensation. Dance critic John Martin, writing in the New York Times, called it "a date to write down in the history books, for it was as if the greatest Giselle of today were handing over a sacred trust to what is probably the greatest Albrecht of tomorrow." In an article entitled “The Matinée that Made History” in Dance News in June 1955, P.W. Machester wrote:
Technically exacting as it is, the role of Albrecht is not beyond the capabilities of any competent premier danseur, and Erik Bruhn is infinitely more than that; he is probably the most completely equipped male dancer of the day, with the flawlessly clean technique that comes only through a combination of enormous talent allied to correct day-by-day training from childhood … If his dancing was magnificent, and it was, his partnering of and playing to Markova were no less so. The result was one of those electrifying performances when everyone both in the audience and on the stage is aware that something extraordinary is happening.
Bruhn formally resigned from the Danish ballet in 1961, by which time he had become internationally known as a phenomenon, although he continued to dance periodically with the company as a guest artist. In May 1961, he returned to Ballet Theatre for its New York season. In its May 5 issue, Time magazine published a major article on the dancer and his art:
Back home Bruhn, 32, is the idol of the Royal Danish Ballet, where he has brought new life to the classic roles reserved for a premier danseur noble. His technical credentials include a fine dramatic sense and an ability to leap with a high-arching grace, to turn with cat quickness and fluidity on the ground or in midair, to project emotion with vivid movements of arms, legs and body. But Bruhn long ago became aware that "technique is not enough," and he is remarkable for the feeling of tension he can convey by his mere presence. Poised and trim (5 ft. 7 in., 140 lbs.), he somehow rivets an audience with the promise of action before he has danced a step ... As Bruhn soars ever closer to his apogee, he spends restless nights reviewing roles in his mind. He has surprisingly little of the vanity that goads most performers; he does not want audiences to pay, he says, "only to see me jump." Furthermore, he would rather "be bad in a good ballet than be great in a bad ballet." But to be great in a good ballet? To do it, says Erik Bruhn, "it is important, even if you performed a role the night before, to think, 'This is the first time this is going to happen.' "
During the next 10 years, Bruhn formed long relationships as a guest artist not only with Ballet Theatre but with most all of the major ballet companies in Europe and North America, including the New York City Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the Paris Opera Ballet, and London's Royal Ballet. He was best known for his lead roles in La Sylphide, Giselle, Frederick Ashton's Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake. John Cranko made Daphnis and Chlöe on him in 1962 at the Stuttgart Ballet, which Bruhn considered his favorite from amongst the ballets created specifically for him. He was also acclaimed in dramatic roles, such as Jean in Birgit Cullberg's Miss Julie, the Moor in José Limón's The Moor's Pavane, and Don José in Roland Petit's Carmen. In addition to Sonia Arova, Bruhn had significant dance partnerships with a large and unusually varied number of ballerinas: the Americans Cynthia Gregory, Nora Kaye, Allegra Kent, and Maria Tallchief; the Russian Natalia Makarova; the Dane Kirstin Simone; the British Nadia Nerina; and, most famously, with the Italian prima ballerina Carla Fracci.

In his book, Beyond Technique (1968), Bruhn discussed his thoughts on partnering:
It has been noticed that I have been able to work with many different kinds of ballerinas, and on most occasions we succeeded in becoming a team if only for a season or two. And that is because I always wanted to relate to them. I don't remain the same. Each ballerina is different; she has a special flavor or she wouldn't be a ballerina. This would color my style and shape my approach. I remain true to myself, but I let her flavor color me as mine colors her ... A good partnership can somehow crystallize something that you have been doing already. When the right people come together, they bring the right thing out of each other ... With the right person, it becomes a situation of being rather than playing ...The role absorbs you and you become it. And then it seems like you can do nothing wrong because you are so totally absorbed by this being.
Bruhn was made a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog, one of Denmark's highest honors, in 1963, the same year he was awarded the Nijinsky Prize in Paris. After retiring as a Danseur Noble in 1972, Bruhn danced character roles, such as Madge the Witch in La Sylphide, Dr. Coppelius, and Petrushka. He was director of the Swedish Opera Ballet from 1967 to 1973 and the National Ballet of Canada from 1983 until his death in 1986. Although twice offered the directorship of the Royal Danish Ballet, he twice declined the post. His productions of full-length classical ballets, such as La Sylphide, Giselle, Coppélia, and his somewhat controversial Swan Lake for the National Ballet of Canada, were well received, as were his stagings of pas de deux from the Bournonville repertoire. A superb teacher and coach, Bruhn was dedicated to imparting purity of form and dance as drama not spectacle. He believed in "complete identification" with the character being portrayed, "but under complete control. Because if you lose yourself completely, you cannot communicate." In 1974, he played a leading role in the stage play Rashomon with Susse Wold in Denmark, for which he won acclaim.

Bruhn met Rudolf Nureyev, the celebrated Tatar dancer, after Nureyev defected to the West in 1961. Nureyev was a great admirer of Bruhn, having seen filmed performances of the Dane on tour in Russia with American Ballet Theatre, although stylistically the two dancers were very different. Bruhn became the great love of Nureyev's life and the two remained close for 25 years, until Bruhn's death.

Erik Bruhn died in Toronto General Hospital on April 1, 1986 at the age of 57. His death was attributed to lung cancer. However, according to Pierre-Henri Verlhac, he might have died of AIDS. He is buried in an unmarked grave at Mariebjerg Cemetery in Gentofte, an affluent northern suburb of Copenhagen, near the house where he grew up.

Dance critic John Rockwell, in his obituary of Bruhn, noted:
Mr. Bruhn was valued more as an epitome of manly elegance and for the sensitivity of his acting than as a virtuoso technician. As a partner he was grave and deferential, yet he never subsided meekly into the background. And as a poetic actor, he lifted male leading roles in the classic ballets to a new prominence ... Mikhail Baryshnikov [said] "He was indisputably one of the greatest dancers we have ever seen, and his dignity and style have been a model to us all, which can not be replaced."
Clive Barnes had named Erik Bruhn "the greatest male classical dancer of his time" when Bruhn retired in 1972. In an appreciation of Bruhn's accomplishments published in The New York Times shortly after his death, dance critic Anna Kisselgoff said:
He was, then, the model of perfection as a dancer - precise in every step, beautifully placed, a virtuoso technician, noble in bearing, elegant in every gesture. His line was extraordinary, his leg beats - a legacy of his Danish training - amazing. He was one of the few dancers who could bring the house down simply by executing a series of entrechats as James in La Sylphide. The steps, no matter how brilliantly executed, were always part of a deeper concept, part of a characterization. Erik Bruhn was a complete dancer - a far cry from the highly specialized artist he was often made out to be ... His moral example to the rest of ballet came through the concentration and seriousness with which he committed himself to every role.
In a codicil to his will, Bruhn left part of his estate for the establishment of The Erik Bruhn Prize, recognizing dancers from the three companies with which he was most closely associated: the Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the National Ballet of Canada, each of which are invited to send one male and one female dancer to the competition, held in Toronto, Canada. Bruhn specified that the prize be awarded to two young dancers who "reflect such technical ability, artistic achievement and dedication as I endeavored to bring to dance." Competitors for the prize are between the ages of 18 and 23 and are selected by their respective Artistic Directors. For the competition, each dancer performs in a classical pas de deux and variations and a contemporary pas de deux or solo work. The first Erik Bruhn Prize was awarded in 1988.

Bruhn authored Beyond Technique with photos by Fred Fehl (1968, reissued as No. 36 of "Dance Perspectives" in 1973), and with Lillian Moore he co-authored Bournonville and Ballet Technique: Studies and Comments on August Bournonville's Etudes Choregraphiques (1961, reprinted 2005). He was the subject of the book Erik Bruhn: Danseur Noble (1979) by John Gruen, written with his cooperation and based in part on extensive interviews. A 2008 biography in Danish by Alexander Meinertz, Erik Bruhn - Billedet indeni (The Picture Within), has yet to be translated into English.

Bruhn was posthumously recognized in 1987 for "exemplary contributions to Canada and its culture" as the first recipient of the annual Pagurian Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Bruhn

Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev (17 March 1938 – 6 January 1993) was a Russian dancer, considered one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of the 20th century. 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.

In 1961 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 Bashkir-Tatar family in a village near Ufa in Soviet republic of Bashkortostan. When his mother took 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.

Owing to the disruption of Soviet cultural life caused by World War II, Nureyev was unable to enroll in a major ballet school until 1955, aged 17, when he was accepted by the Leningrad Choreographic School, the associate school of the Kirov Ballet.

Erik Bruhn met Rudolf Nureyev, the celebrated Tatar dancer, after Nureyev defected to the West in 1961. Nureyev was a great admirer of Bruhn, having seen filmed performances of the Dane on tour in Russia with American Ballet Theatre, although stylistically the two dancers were different. Bruhn became the great love of Nureyev's life and the two remained close for 25 years, until Bruhn's death. Nureyev, iconic dancer of the XX century, had it all: beauty, genius, charm, passion, and sex appeal.

Alexander Ivanovich Pushkin took an interest in him professionally and allowed Nureyev to live with him and his wife. Upon graduation, Nureyev continued with the Kirov and went on to become a soloist.

In his three years with the Kirov, he danced fifteen rôles, usually opposite his partner, Ninel Kurgapkina, with whom he was very well paired, although she was almost a decade older than he was. He became one of the Soviet Union's best-known dancers and was allowed to travel outside the Soviet Union, when he danced in Vienna at the International Youth Festival. Not long after, he was told by the Ministry of Culture that he would not be allowed to go abroad again.

By the late 1950s, Nureyev had become a sensation in the Soviet Union. 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. However, in 1961, the Kirov's leading male dancer, Konstantin Sergeyev, was injured, and Nureyev was chosen to replace him on the Kirov's European tour. In Paris, his performances electrified audiences and critics. Oliver Merlin in Le Monde wrote,

"I will never forget his arrival running across the back of the stage, and his catlike way of holding himself opposite the ramp. He wore a white sash over an ultramarine costume, had large wild eyes and hollow cheeks under a turban topped with a spray of feathers, bulging thighs, immaculate tights. This was already Nijinsky in Firebird."

Nureyev was seen to have broken the rules about mingling with foreigners, which alarmed the Kirov's management. The KGB wanted to send him back to the Soviet Union immediately. As a subterfuge, they told him that he would not travel with the company to London to continue the tour because he was needed to dance at a special performance in the Kremlin. When that didn't work they told him his mother had fallen severely ill and he needed to come home immediately to see her. He knew these were lies and believed that if he returned to the U.S.S.R., he would likely be imprisoned, because KGB agents had been investigating him.

On 16 June 1961 at the Le Bourget Airport in Paris, Rudolf Nureyev defected with the help of French police and a Parisian socialite friend – Clara Saint. Within a week, he was signed up by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas and was performing The Sleeping Beauty with Nina Vyroubova. On a tour of Denmark he met Erik Bruhn, soloist at the Royal Danish Ballet who became his lover, his closest friend and his protector until Bruhn's death in 1986.

Although he petitioned the Soviet government for many years to be allowed to visit his mother, he was not allowed to do so until 1987, when his mother was dying and Mikhail Gorbachev consented to the visit. In 1989, he was invited to dance the role of James in La Sylphide with the Kirov Ballet at the Maryinsky theatre in Leningrad. The visit gave him the opportunity to see many of the teachers and colleagues he had not seen since he defected.

Nureyev's first appearance in Britain was at a ballet matinée organised by The Royal Ballet's Prima Ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn. The event was held in aid of the Royal Academy of Dance, a classical ballet teaching organisation of which she was President. He danced Poeme Tragique, a solo choreographed by Frederick Ashton, and the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake.

Dame Ninette de Valois offered him a contract to join The Royal Ballet as Principal Dancer. His first appearance with the company was partnering Margot Fonteyn in Giselle on 21 February 1962. Fonteyn and Nureyev would go on to form a partnership. Nureyev stayed with the Royal Ballet until 1970, when he was promoted to Principal Guest Artist, enabling him to concentrate on his increasing schedule of international guest appearances and tours. He continued to perform regularly with The Royal Ballet until committing his future to the Paris Opera Ballet in the 1980s.

Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn became longstanding dance partners and continued to dance together for many years after Nureyev's departure from the Royal Ballet. Their last performance together was in Baroque Pas de Trois on 16 September 1988 when Fonteyn was 69, Nureyev was aged 50, with Carla Fracci also starring, aged 52. Nureyev once said of Fonteyn that they danced with "one body, one soul".

Together Nureyev and Fonteyn premiered Sir Frederick Ashton's ballet Marguerite and Armand, a ballet danced to Liszt's Piano Sonata in B minor, which became their signature piece. Kenneth MacMillan was forced to allow them to premiere his Romeo and Juliet, which was intended for two other dancers, Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable. Films exist of their partnership in Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, and other roles.

Nureyev danced with many of the top ballerinas of his time. He celebrated another long-time partnership with Prima Ballerina Assoluta Eva Evdokimova. They first appeared together in La Sylphide (1971) and in 1975 he selected her as his Sleeping Beauty in his staging for London Festival Ballet. Evdokimova remained his partner of choice for many guest appearances and tours across the globe with "Nureyev and Friends" for more than fifteen years.

In 1962, Nureyev made his screen debut in a film version of Les Sylphides. In 1977 he played Rudolph Valentino in Ken Russell's Valentino, but he decided against an acting career in order to branch into modern dance with the Dutch National Ballet in 1968. In 1972, Sir Robert Helpmann invited him to tour Australia with his own production of Don Quixote, his directorial debut. The film version (1973) features Nureyev, Lucette Aldous as Kitri, Helpmann as Don Quixote and artists of the Australian Ballet.

During the 1970s, Nureyev appeared in several films and toured through the United States in a revival of the Broadway musical The King and I. He was one of the guest stars on the television series The Muppet Show where he danced in a parody called Swine Lake, sang Baby, It's Cold Outside in a sauna duet with Miss Piggy, and sang and tap-danced in the show's finale, Top Hat, White Tie and Tails. In 1981, Thames Television filmed a documentary with Nureyev, including a candid interview, as well as access to him in the studio, rehearsing. In 1982, he became a naturalized Austrian. In 1983 he had a non-dancing role in the movie Exposed with Nastassja Kinski.

In 1983, he was appointed director of the Paris Opera Ballet, where, as well as directing, he continued to dance and to promote younger dancers. He remained there as a dancer and chief of choreography until 1989. Among the dancers he groomed were Sylvie Guillem, Isabelle Guerin, Manuel Legris, Elisabeth Maurin, Élisabeth Platel, Charles Jude, and Monique Loudieres. Despite advancing illness towards the end of his tenure, he worked tirelessly, staging new versions of old standbys and commissioning some of the most ground-breaking choreographic works of his time. His own Romeo and Juliet was a popular success.

Nureyev did not have much patience with rules, limitations and hierarchical order and at times a volatile temper. His impatience mainly showed itself when the failings of others interfered with his work. Most ballerinas with whom he danced, including Antoinette Sibley, Gelsey Kirkland and Annette Page paid tribute to him as a considerate partner.

He socialized with Gore Vidal, Freddie Mercury, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol and Talitha Pol, but developed an intolerance for celebrities. He kept up old friendships in and out of the ballet world for decades, and was considered to be a loyal and generous friend. He was known as extremely generous to many ballerinas, who credit him with helping them during difficult times. In particular, the Canadian ballerina Lynn Seymour – distressed when she was denied the opportunity to premiere Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet – says that Nureyev often found projects for her even when she was suffering from weight issues and depression and thus had trouble finding rôles.

By the end of the 1970s, when he was in his 40s, he continued to tackle big classical rôles. However by the late 1980s his diminished capabilities disappointed his admirers who had fond memories of his outstanding prowess and skill. His artistic directorshop of the Paris Opera Ballet was a great success lifting the company out of a dark period. His Sleeping Beauty remains in the repertoire and was revived and filmed with his protege Manuel Legris in the lead. When he was sick towards the end of his life, he worked on a final production of La Bayadère which closely follows the Kirov Ballet version he danced as a young man.

Nureyev met Erik Bruhn, the celebrated Danish dancer, after Nureyev defected to the West in 1961. Nureyev was a great admirer of Bruhn, having seen filmed performances of the Dane on tour in Russia with the American Ballet Theatre, although stylistically the two dancers were very different. Bruhn and Nureyev became a couple and the two remained together for 25 years, until Bruhn's death in 1986.

When AIDS appeared in France around 1982, Nureyev took little notice. The dancer tested positive for HIV in 1984, but for several years he simply denied that anything was wrong with his health. Nureyev began a marked decline only in the summer of 1991 and entered the final phase of the disease in the spring of 1992.

In March 1992, Rudolf Nureyev, living with advanced AIDS, visited Kazan and appeared as a conductor in front of the audience at Musa Cälil Tatar Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in Kazan, which now presents the Rudolf Nureyev Festival in Tatarstan. Returning to Paris, with a high fever, he was admitted to the hospital Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours in Levallois-Perret, a suburb northwest of Paris, and was operated on for pericarditis, an inflammation of the membranous sac around the heart. At that time, what inspired him to fight his illness was the hope that he could fulfill an invitation to conduct Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet at an American Ballet Theater's benefit on 6 May 1992 at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. He did so and was elated at the reception.

In July 1992, Nureyev showed renewed signs of pericarditis but determined to forswear further treatment. His last public appearance on 8 October 1992, at the premiere at Palais Garnier of a new production of La Bayadère that he choreographed after Marius Petipa for the Paris Opera Ballet. Nureyev had managed to obtain a photocopy of the original score by Minkus when in Russia in 1989. This meant that the full fourt acts of the ballet could be performed for the first time in the west since the Russian revolution. The ballet was a personal triumph although the gravity of his condition was evident. The French Culture Minister, Jack Lang, presented him that evening on stage with France's highest cultural award, the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Nureyev re-entered the hospital Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours in Levallois-Perret on 20 November 1992 and remained there until his death from cardiac complication a few months later, aged 54. His funeral was held in the marble foyer of the Paris Garnier Opera House. Many paid tributes to his brilliance as a dancer. One such tribute came from Oleg Vinogradov of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia,

"What Nureyev did in the west, he could have never have done here."

Nureyev's grave, at a Russian cemetery in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois near Paris, features a tomb draped in a mosaic of an oriental carpet. Nureyev was an avid collector of beautiful carpets and antique textiles. As his coffin was lowered into the ground, music from the last act of Giselle was played and his ballet shoes were cast into the grave along with white lillies.

After so many years of having been denied a place in the Kirov Ballet history, Nureyev's reputation was restored. His name was reentered in the history of the Kirov and some of his personal effects were placed on display at the theatre museum in St. Petersburg. At the famed Vaganova Academy a rehearsal room was named in his honour.

Nureyev's influence on the world of ballet changed the perception of male dancers; in his own productions of the classics the male roles received much more choreography. Another important influence was his crossing the borders between classical ballet and modern dance by performing both. Today it is normal for dancers to receive training in both styles, but Nureyev was the originator and excelled in modern and classical dance. He went out of his way to work with modern dance great, Martha Graham, and she created a work specially for him. While Gene Kelly had done much to combine modern and classical styles in film, he came from a more Modern Dance influenced "popular dance" environment, while Nureyev made great strides in gaining acceptance of Modern Dance in the "Classical Ballet" sphere.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Nureyev

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher

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Tags: dancer: erik bruhn, dancer: rudolf nureyev, days of love

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