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Rudolph Nureyev. I think I had to be there too see him. If I had a star from the Kirov dance with Scottish Ballet I would be wow. I think I would have to have seen him live to appreciate him more. Mum saw him in latter stages of his career but she said he still had the magic about him. I read an Amazon review that said a wife was in tears when a DVD came out with his Nutcracker for the Royal Ballet.

 

I watched a program though about him and they showed some early clips where I thought wow. They also showed him doing the Princes Bravura solo in Sleeping Beauty for the Paris Ballet after he defected and his spins were very fast and amazing where he goes round in a circle. I am not sure what the technical term is. I think he did an encore as the applause and cheering was that great.

 

It seems to me and please tell me if I am right or wrong that he was the Male Anna Pavlova. He did more and worked harder than anyone to popularise male ballet dancers and Ballet around the world. Singularly and with Margot Fonteyn. He advanced the Paris Ballet too.

 

Can anyone comment on the remark he made where he felt he was the tea cosy keeping the teapot warm in an interview he gave. I guess in reference to Margot Fonteyn.

 

He broke the rules at the Kirov like staying out late but he always kept the Kirov training style of His teacher Alexander Pushkin.

 

He had a colourful side but will always be remembered in History as one of the greats. It said in a book I read one cannot state enough how much he popularised ballet and dance.

 

Any dancer who can leave people in tears has to be something very special.

 

Anyone who actually saw him want to comment on his presence on stage etc.

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Hi there

 

I have always interpreted that remark as a criticism of the ROH, who were happy for him to keep dancing with Fonteyn as the two of them made a lot of money for the company.  They were less keen on him dancing with other ballerinas or doing his own stuff.  I do not think this was in any way an adverse comment on her.  One thing is clear, he absolutely adored her to the end of her life and when she was destitute he helped her more than anyone, least of all the ROH.

 

I saw him a number of times but unforunately never in his prime.  He was the most amazing theatrical presence and personality but his virtuosity had long gone.  I saw Fonteyn 'appear' (her own word) around the time she was 60 and I can truly say that I have never forgotten the effect she had on me.

 

Other great dancers, Baryshnikov, Makarova, Bessmertnova, Patrick Dupond and, my favourite, Nina Ananiashvilli whose Raymonda at the London Coliseum in (I think) 1999 is still my favourite individual performance in over 35 years of ballet going.

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He did say that, I also think he meant the RB just wanted him to keep quiet, not dance anything new, just use him to sell tickets.

 

I saw him dance since 1965 and he is the greatest male dancer I've ever seen, I suppose you have the great dancers, the superstars, and then the legends such as Rudi that you only get to see once in a lifetime.

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I saw Nureyev and Fonteyn dance Swan Lake in the late 1960's - around 1968 and again in Giselle in that same time period.  

 

They were unbelieveable.... magic - absolutely.  

 

The complete Swan Lake,  with the Royal Ballet, was  at the Hollywood Bowl which seats 18,000 people.  It was a beautiful summer evening, the sun just going down in the west.  A lawn of green grass on the stage in front of the dancers  

 

When Nureyev danced the Prince's very beautiful adage solo which occurs after his First Act birthday party just before he goes to hunt at the lake - the audience - that huge audience was absolutely quiet.  Not a cough, not a stir.  When he finished - the silence remained.  He stood very still - as if he was in a dream.

 

The silence continued.  And then.....the audience rose with a roar to its feet - 

 

Nureyev looked a bit surprised.....as if he had just awakened from a dream - I think he might have been so deeply into his dance, he was also mesmerized.  The roar of 18,000 people continued for many minutes.  At the end of the ballet, both he and Fonteyn took their bows - the audience would not stop applauding - no one wanted them to leave the stage.

 

He was a true genius - revitalizing POB was a monumental task.  It was almost moribund when he took over.  When I heard he was going to be Artistic Director -- I thought - YES - POB has met its match.

 

The  list of fantastic dancers he promoted from Karen Kain to Sylvie Guillem is the stuff of legends.  

 

He changed the way men danced.  He changed the way we see men dance.  What a fascinating person.

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Apart from his dancing, his "defection" from the USSR at the height of the Cold War made front-page headlines throughout the Western world, his first post-defection performances were sabotaged by Communist sympathisers and he had to live with the threat of the KGB taking some form of revenge, ie death, forced repatriation and punishment or career-ending injury.

He was unique amongst the defectors of the 1960s/70s/80s in that he had no precedent to follow. Those who came later knew when they defected that they could have a safe and successful career in the West. I think his sheer courage must have helped to dispel the myth so prevelant here in those days that male dancers were wimps.

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Apart from his dancing, his "defection" from the USSR at the height of the Cold War made front-page headlines throughout the Western world, his first post-defection performances were sabotaged by Communist sympathisers and he had to live with the threat of the KGB taking some form of revenge, ie death, forced repatriation and punishment or career-ending injury.

He was unique amongst the defectors of the 1960s/70s/80s in that he had no precedent to follow. Those who came later knew when they defected that they could have a safe and successful career in the West. I think his sheer courage must have helped to dispel the myth so prevelant here in those days that male dancers were wimps.

 

In regard to his continuing fear of the KGB -

 

Several years after he defected to the West, he was dancing in Los Angeles.  My cousin went to a performance.  Later that evening while waiting for an elevator in a hotel, my cousin found himself standing quite close to Nureyev.  My cousin spoke a number of languages, Russian being one of them.  Thinking it would be polite to address Nureyev in his own language, my cousin told him in Russian how much he enjoyed the performance.  Nureyev's reaction was instant fear - very obvious fear.  After a while he realized my cousin was not a threat - but a fan.  My cousin told me that he regretted causing Nureyev stress - but it never occurred to him that would happen.  

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I first saw Fonteyn and Nureyev in Marguerite and Armand in 1965  - it was a magical experience which still lives on in my memory.  They were both such stars and so well known by the general public - I have to admit that it was Nureyev I was most interested in seeing, but was blown away by Fonteyn's performance.  I think the only dancer who came anywhere near that performance was Tamara Rojo.  The onlyother  time I saw them dance together was in 1969 in Sleeping Beauty, though I saw Nureyev later at the Coliseum.

 

Both great dancers - wonderful memories.

 

Margaret

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With all the talk of injuries and cancelled performances at the moment, I wonder what happened when either Nureyev or Fonteyn were injured. Did they both pull out or did they get a replacement partner? If so, that must have been difficult, standing in for Nureyev when everyone had paid to see him and Fonteyn.

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With all the talk of injuries and cancelled performances at the moment, I wonder what happened when either Nureyev or Fonteyn were injured. Did they both pull out or did they get a replacement partner? If so, that must have been difficult, standing in for Nureyev when everyone had paid to see him and Fonteyn.

 

I don't ever recall hearing either one of them pulling out for injury.  Nureyev once said that Fonteyn believed: "If I can walk, I can dance."

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I don't ever recall hearing either one of them pulling out for injury.  Nureyev once said that Fonteyn believed: "If I can walk, I can dance."

 

Really? wow.

 

While it's annoying when dancers you like pull out with injury, i'm sort of glad that that attitude doesn't prevail so much anymore. It can't have done their bodies much good.

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Nureyev exuded sexual charisma when he was on stage, didn't he?  He just had that aura of attractiveness that captivated audiences. 

Indeed....and he was dangerous!!  Sadly I was too young to see him in his prime, but was very happy to have seen him towards the end of his career at the Coliseum back in the early to mid 80s.  Even then, you couldn't take your eyes off him, even if the technique had faded somewhat.  A true star in every sense of the word.

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I saw Nureyev very late in his career ( La Sylphide Stratford upon Avon - late 80's) and thrilled as I was at the prospect of seeing this legend, once he took to the stage, I was vey sad - he was dancing classical roles far too late in his dancing career, and clearly struggled. Yes he had plenty of character, but his technique was gone. Thankfully, there's some wonderful film footage of him which shows how wonderful he was.

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ChrisChris, your link to the NY Times report brought back memories. I was at that 1990 Fonteyn retirement gala and Nureyev did Mercutio, though rumour was that the ROH had intended him to escort Fonteyn in the Royal Box rather than dance himself. Placido Domingo, preceding Romeo and Juliet itself, sang the Traviata Brindisi, inviting the audience to accompany him in the chorus, then joined Fonteyn in her Box.

The final curtain-call, a "red runner" out front, was Fonteyn with Nureyev, by then in his street clothes. The BBC were there to cover that bit live on the News, except that it had overrun (the unprogrammed Brindisi, I suspect) so I think it went out on Newsnight. The whole House was plunged into total darkness (something I've never seen before or since) then F&N were spotlighted in front of the curtain, standing side by side holding hands. She looked elegant but very, very ill (I was in the Stalls), he not yet obviously unwell but both were dead within a few years, so we were seeing their last appearance on the ROH stage. And we sang at the ROH with Domingo.

Edited by Grand Tier Left
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ChrisChris, your link to the NY Times report brought back memories. I was at that 1990 Fonteyn retirement gala and Nureyev did Mercutio, though rumour was that the ROH had intended him to escort Fonteyn in the Royal Box rather than dance himself. Placido Domingo, preceding Romeo and Juliet itself, sang the Traviata Brindisi, inviting the audience to accompany him in the chorus, then joined Fonteyn in her Box.

The final curtain-call, a "red runner" out front, was Fonteyn with Nureyev, by then in his street clothes. The BBC were there to cover that bit live on the News, except that it had overrun (the unprogrammed Brindisi, I suspect) so I think it went out on Newsnight. The whole House was plunged into total darkness (something I've never seen before or since) then F&N were spotlighted in front of the curtain, standing side by side holding hands. She looked elegant but very, very ill (I was in the Stalls), he not yet obviously unwell but both were dead within a few years, so we were seeing their last appearance on the ROH stage. And we sang at the ROH with Domingo.

 

Must have been fun. I found a clip of the event which I assumed would show the dancers but the camera barely left Princess Diana, which was pretty typical of events in the 80's and 90's I guess.

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With all the talk of injuries and cancelled performances at the moment, I wonder what happened when either Nureyev or Fonteyn were injured. Did they both pull out or did they get a replacement partner? If so, that must have been difficult, standing in for Nureyev when everyone had paid to see him and Fonteyn.

I heard, in a TV programme about Margot Fonteyn, someone saying that she had such a perfect body for dance that she tended not to get injured. And then there was also the fact that dancers in her day didn't have to manage such extremes of movement that they do nowadays, and I don't think, especially later in her career, that she was doing the range of different types of dance that dancers nowadays are expected to handle simultaneously, which also leads to injury.

 

But I did also read (wish I could remember where) a description of Fonteyn and Nureyev backstage before a performance, both in such bad shape that the author said they looked as though they should be in traction. And then they went out on stage and did a perfect performance. And then no doubt staggered offstage and carried on hobbling around like a pair of geriatrics.

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Didn't Fonteyn have terrible problems with her feet? 

 

I remember reading once that someone arrived to photograph her and found her hobbling about, complaining that she was thinking of putting her feet in a gas oven.

 

And didn't Ashton refer to her as Butterfeet, or something like that?

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Indeed, he called them Margot's little pats of butter.  I think much of Fonteyn's legendary stamina must lie in the number of performances she gave during the early days of the company, not least during the war years.  I remember reading in her autobiography (I think) that Swan Lake was the ONLY ballet she could not have performed twice in one day.  With Nureyev I think he was probably one of the most driven dancers ever.  His determination throughout his entire life was staggering. 

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Did Rudolph help her at the end as someone said here. Truly life long friends and support to each other?

 

I have read in several places - including bios of both dancers - that Nureyev paid Fonteyn's medical bills.  By then, she had spent whatever she had including jewels, furs, etc., in caring for her husband.  She probably was Nureyev's most constant friend and he never forgot that.  He once made a comment in an interview not long before he died that he "never fit in" with the structures of society.  In the several interviews I saw of him - his wit matched his artistry and skill.  He had a keen intelligence.  It made  him impatient with others.  I don't think he was often happy.

 

So jealous of all the Senior Ballet Lovers here who have had the honour to watch Mr. Nureyev live.

He was one of my idols when I was studying ballet.

Such an inspiration!

A true artist!

 

In addition to seeing him in the late 1960's which was basically the early days of his career in the West, I also got to see him at the end of his career.  He was long past his prime - and long past when a dancer needs to retire or take on other roles in the ballet.  He was touring with a small group of dancers and was not sparing of  himself - pushing to do the classic roles.  It was not a pleasant sight.  The irony was that it was he who had set the barre (so to speak) higher for men, and then with the passing of the years he could not dance to the standard he had set.

 

Why did I go?  Why did I go knowing that the man I would be seeing might destroy the marvelous memory of him at his prime?  Actually, I didn't give it a moment's thought but bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale.  

 

First, I knew nothing could destroy the indelible image he had left with me of Nureyev in the glory of his 1968 Romeo.  

 

Second, I didn't care how he would look at the end of his career - I wanted to go as a way - my way - of saying "thank you" for that indelible memory.  Thank you for having the courage to take that leap at the airport in France.  Thank you for your genius.

 

However, sad to say others did not see it that way or perhaps they had never seen the young Romeo or  Siegfried holding a swan named Fonteyn.  Some in the audience quite loudly "boo-ed" as Nureyev struggled to be who he once was.  One might say, well, he opened himself up to such abuse.  But, in my view, no excuse will suffice to explain away the reaction of  some in that audience.  

 

I have no regrets in going.  He might not have heard my "thank you" under the noise of the boos - but it was there nevertheless.

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