I’ll never forget that day

                                                                                T. Zakrzhevskaya


So many years have passed and yet I remember that Friday as if it were yesterday.  It was thee 16th of June, 1961, not the 17th as Rudik later mistakenly wrote — an unusually warm and sunny day in Leningrad. The sky seemed to be just that little bit brighter, as if trying to purge me of some curious anxieties which had been afflicting me ever since daybreak. But without success. It’s  strange, but all day long I had been unable to escape this unaccountable sense of alarm. This worrying premonition prevented me from enjoying the unexpected sunshine that day. It also took all the pleasure out of the prospect off seeing ‘’Ondine’’ at the Kirov that evening.


‘’Ondine’’ was the opening night production of the English Royal Ballet’s long-awaited tour. How I had longed to see ‘’La Fille mal Gardee’’, ‘’The Dame And The Jester’’, N. Nerina, S. Beriosova, M. Fonteyn, F. Aston — each of these name a legend. And at last they had arrived and I would see them on stage. But even that wasn’t enough to calm my nerves, which seemed to be even more on edge as evening approached. To add to the pressure, I had an exam the next day at the university. Naturally, the anticipation of taking a enough to explain my acute anxieties. Anyway, day passed, evening finally came round and I set of for the Kirov with my hated textbook under my arm.


There I was, sitting on a small plush blue sofa, in the Dress Circle of the theatre. I had a few minutes before the curtain went up, so I made a last-ditch effort to grapple wish my dialectical materialism. I tried to picture myself passing the exam the next day. Suddenly, somebody (I can’t remember exactly who it was) called over to me and said to go down into the foyer, where someone was waiting for me. And so there was — an old theatre friend of mine. He seemed extremely nervous and I could tell by his face that something had happened: ‘’Tamara, I have something to tell you. Only please don’t worry.’’ My heart immediately fell. I sensed that it had something to do wish Rudik, something dreadful had happened. Had he died? Broken a leg? ‘’It’s about Rudik, isn’t it?’’ ‘’Yes,’’ he replied. ‘’They’ve just announced on the BBC… Promise me you’re not going to worry… Well,… the thing is… He’s asked for political asylum in France.’’


What he said was so unexpected that the news hardly hit me a tall. In fact, I even felt a little bit relieved: ‘’Really? How silly. You know, they always exaggerate things. It can’t be real political asylum because Rudik’s never understood anything about political in his  life. I’ll bet he doesn’t even know the difference between a republic and a monarchy.’’ My fried, however, didn’t agree. He knew very well what an announcement on the radio like this could mean. ‘’Don’t you see, Tamara,’’ he said, without taking his eyes off me, ‘’to do what he did Rudolf doesn’t need to understand anything about politics. All he has to do if he wants to remain in another country is petition its government for asylum.  And that’s the way it’s done.’’ He kept on talking, telling me not to worry, convinced that it probably was not true, that perhaps they had made a mistake, but I was no longer listening. He had decided to remain in the West. Forever. But why?


Exactly a week before, on June 9th, I had spoken to Rudik on the phone. Not one to mince words, he told me: ‘’The audiences here are stupid. I can’t wait to get to London and dance in front of a real audience.’’ B all accounts, the Kirov’s tour was going extremely well and we already knew that Rudik had been awarded the Nijinsky Prize and title of best dancer in the world for 1961. But to stay there in Paris and not go on to Britain with the others… to stay there forever… political asylum… I just couldn’t figure it out.


I ran to a pay phone, fumbling in my purse for a two-kopeck coin. At last, I found one and feverishly dialed the telephone number of A. Pushkin, but no one answered. I then called the Pazhis, am elderly couple who adored Rudik.  Elizaveta Mikhailovna picked up the receiver. ‘’Tamara, dear’’, she began, ‘’is it really true?’’ I could hear her sobbing. The Pazhis had obviously also been listening to the BBC — the only source f information that we had at the time. E. Pazhis asked me to come over as quickly as possible, so I immediately headed off for Vosstaniya Street, forgetting all about ‘’Ondine’’. We spent that whole evening talking, weeping, going through various theories, but still understood, we could change nothing.


I tried to get Pushkin on the phone a few more times, but without any luck. When I finally reached him the next morning. I heard a quiet, tired-sounding, “I know,’’ on the other end of the line. Someone had evidently already broken the news to him. A sufferer from high blood pressure, Alexander Ivanovich was now in bed after an acute attack and an emergency medical service was on its way over. I sent a telegram to his wife why was in Pyarhu: ‘’Mahmoudka in trouble. Fly home.’’ (Mahmoudka was their pet name for Rudik.) She flew back to home that evening. Only then was I able to sit down and catch my breath for the first time during that entire crazy day. And it was only then that I remembered with horror about that blasted exam…


I showed up at university on the Monday and dashed straight to the dean’s office to ask if I could take my dialectical materialism in the following diet, only to learn the stark news that I was being expelled. This was quite illegal. Even though I had to make up these two credits, I could easily take the exam in the autumn. And, apart  from dial. materialism, I wasn’t failing in any course whatsoever. I did all I could to appeal their decision, only to be rewarded with a candid talk by a member of the (Communist) Party Committee. A drab, featureless creature with eyes like a rodent’s, he explained to me that my academic record wasn’t what was at issue: ‘’You must understand, Comrade Zakrzhevskaya, that above all we are guided here by political factors. We are supposed to write ‘Philologist and Teacher of Russian Language and  Literature’ on your diploma. And being a teacher implies trust. The state is entrusting you with its most precious: its children. Entrusting you with their education and more importantly, please note, their upbringing. How can we possibly entrust our growing  generation’s upbringing to such a politically naïve own personal life but also in discerning the political unreliability of Nureyev friend of yours.’’


Everyone knew Rudik at the university, students and professors alike. He would sometimes come with me to lectures and he mixed quite a lot with all the other students. That’s why it didn’t take the dean’s office long to react. And their reaction was immediate. No more university for me. And then the dark, cheerless apathy that swamped my life. I just lay around the house; I didn’t want to go out anywhere, didn’t want to see anyone. I just lay there, thinking, remembering…


I first met Rudik in the autumn of 1958. he had just finished Ballet School and been immediately accepted into the Kirov Theatre Company. Now, to get into the ‘’Maryinka’’ and dance on that stage alongside the likes of Dudinskaya, Shelest, Makarov was beyond mast young graduate’s wildest dreams. You had to start off in the corps de ballet and only if you were lucky and worked from morning to night could you gradually progress to a pas de quatre or a pas de trios. If God was on your side, you might get a shot at the pas de trios in ‘’Swan Lake’’. And to become a principal soloist demanded not just hard work but a great deal of luck. In those years, to be worthy of the title of ‘’the Kirov’s leading light’’ required first-class skill and much, more. Only a few could ever hope to dance the parts of Siegfried and Albrecht. Yet Nureyev, a graduate of the class of 1958, was taken on straight away as one of the theatre’s leading soloists and was dancing ‘’Laurentia’’ with Dudinskaya herself by the start of the next season.


His examination performance was a triumph also. He danced a pas de deux from ‘’Le Corsaire’’ with Sizova and they brought the house down. The whole theatre just exploded with applause for applause for this wonder boy who had only arrived from Ufa three years before and who had only seriously begun to study classical ballet at the age of 17.


Even when he was still at Ballet School, people were referring to Rudik as a rising star and predicting a brilliant future for him. I saw him perform at several Ballet School presentations and was captivated by him during his final exam when as the brawny, lithe slave in ‘’Le Corsaire’’ he seemed to fly weightlessly up above the stage. The same goes for his Frondoso in ‘’Laurentia’’ I just couldn’t believe that this man who was now dancing faultlessly with Dudinskaya was only yesterday a student. And dancing his first serious role in the theatre. They compared Rudik to Chaboukiani and so I thought that in real life Nureyev would be someone really special exactly who, I’m not quite sure. I imagined him walking down the street: strong, muscular and irresistible, with all the girls fainting at his feet. Just like that.


But once, when I was going down to the first floor of the Maryinsky during an interval, I ran into a  theatre friend of mine. She was talking to a young, frail looking man not very tall and garishly dressed. I said hello and continued on my way. All of a sadden, she calls out, ‘’Tamara, I’d like to introduce you to Rudik Nureyev.’’ I was absolutely dumbstruck. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe that this slim young boy with the shining eyes the complete antithesis of a star was Nureyev. I began to laughing like a fool and couldn’t stop. My friend looked at me in astonishment and Rudik was clearly embarrassed by it all. But I found it so funny that this person was the exact opposite of the Nureyev I had imagined that I just couldn’t help myself. Well, I did eventually stop laughing and apologized, paid him a compliment and we parted. 


A few days later, Rudik and I bumped into each other again, this time beside the ticket office in the theatre lobby. After we exchanged greetings, he looked at me closely, smiled and asked, ‘’Would you tell me why you laughed so much the other night?’’  ‘’You’re not at all what I expected you to be,’’ I replied. ‘’What did you expect? Someone tall, dark and handsome?’’ he joked. We went outside and walked down the street together, talking. Before separating, we agreed to meet up sometime and go to the Hermitage together. And that was how our three-year-long began.


We went together to the Hermitage, to the cinema, to the Philharmonic… Despite the fact that  he lacked a solid academic education, Rudik had impeccable taste and was forever on the lookout for something new, to fill in the gaps in his education. I never once heard him say that something was baring. It was just the opposite. The one thing Rudik never had enough of was time. And, of course, there were those qualities of his that ere simply inexplicable, those one could only refer to as being ‘’given by God’’. For instance, his natural instinct for not only classical music, but also art and architecture. Growing up in the provinces, Rudik had no idea who Beethoven, Handel or  Bach were, but that  didn’t prevent the Philharmonic from finding in him an extremely devoted and appreciative listener. And although I can’t say that Rudik knew literature well, his genuine love for reading certainly made up for it.


At the time, I was a student at the Department of Russian in the Arts Faculty and the first thing Rudik would invariably ask me whenever we met was, ‘’Well, what did you learn today?’’ I’d then relate to him everything I’d heard at my lectures that  day. My personal tutor granted him permission to attend lectures with me, which he did whenever he didn’t have any rehearsals. He was particularly fond of Russian literature of the 1920s and 1930s. I once got him a small volume of Balmont’s poetry out of the library and let Rudik  discover this poet for himself. He absolutely devoured the book and of one of the poems even became his motto for life. ‘’It’s about me,’’ he said as he pointed out the page with his finger:


                                                You want to be immortal, and firs-class?

                                                Flash by like thunder, bringing fire and rain…


I also introduced Rudik to the writings of the  poets Severyanin and Gumilyev, whom he revered. And to the works of M. Voloshin, which were frowned upon in the SSSR. One day I got hold of his verses in samizdat (underground literature), some forty type-written pages, every line of which Rudik absolutely adored. His favorite was the poem that began with the words, ‘’Beguile me, completely and forever…’’


We’d go for walks together, with me taking my little FED camera. Rudik loved to have his picture taken and would always choose the location for the shot. This is how my photograph collection of Rudik began. After that, I began taking my camera along to the theatre as well, to capture him as he danced. I have to admit that some of my the shots turned out very well. Rudik and I would then sit and think up titles for them. The photo with Rudik hanging onto the railings

of the Mikhailovsky Gardens we named ‘’Looking for Work’’. The one with him gazing pensively at his reflection in a pond was called ‘’Narcissus’’. And so on. A photographer friend of mine at the Kirov, Lyusya Nikonova, developed my roles of film and made copies of the more successful pictures. And so, by the time Rudik defected, I had already put together quite a respectable photographic library embracing both his creative and private life.  


Sadly, I was unable to preserve my archive in their entirety, much of it destroyed by my father after Rudik’s court trial. Priceless photographs were lost forever, as were the sketches Rudik made of costumes for the first act of ‘’Giselle’’. Rudik told me he had drawn them himself, which means that every Act I of ‘’Giselle’’ later performed at the Kirov were danced in costumes originally designed by Rudik.  (After the incident at Le Bourget, these costumes were ‘’inherited’’ by another of Pushin’s pupils, Seryozha Vikulov.)


My collection did, nevertheless rise again like a phoenix from the ashes. Lyusya still had the negatives and many years later she was able to send them, along with some of my other photographs, to Rudik in the West. So I’m now quite used to seeing my own photos in Western publications, carrying the inscription ‘’author unknown’’. But then all we were doing was going for walks and fooling around, whilst we clicked away…


Our walks were never terribly long ones, however. Rudik took great care of his feet and, when he wasn’t rehearsing, tried not to overwork them. he always avoided situations where there was the slightest risk of over-straining his muscles or God forbid injuring himself. He would never travel by transport during the rush-hour  (well, someone might tread on his feet!). Choosing the lesser of  evils, he’d prefer to walk than take the tram. And on the days when he had a performance, he wouldn’t go out at all. He’d spend the entire day lying down with his feet up, only getting out of bed when it was time to go to the theatre. To  compensate for a whole day’s idleness, he’d then spend ages painstakingly warming up. Rudik often went for massages the only part of his life in which I couldn’t be of  any use to him. I not only had zero knowledge of the human anatomy but also had small, week fingers. Rudik frequently lamented this; for although he wanted to have a massage at least once a day, he never quite managed to get one. What’s more, he always had to end up walking there, as the masseuse would not come to your own home. So it was all impossibly inconvenient and Rudik would often tongue-in-cheek say, ‘’Well, you’ve got a lot going for you, but it’s a  shame that you can’t massage; then you really would be priceless’’.


We often went to the theatre together. I remember once there was a production of A. Green’s novel ‘’Running Along The Waves’’ at the ‘’Alexandrinka’’. Rudik was an enormous fan of

Green’s work, so he couldn’t let an event like that pass him by. He liked Green for his wonderfully distinct and penetrative romanticism. (Rudik was a real sucker for romanticism, whether it was in poetry, paintings or music.) In this case, Green’s romanticism found its embodiment on the stage and that was enough for Rudik to be there. But, of course, not by himself. We saw each other every day and if ever one of as were planning on going somewhere, without fall we’d drag the other along.


Another time, we went to see ‘’The Seagulls Are Dying In The  Harbor’’ at the university cinema. For several days afterwards, Rudik could talk about nothing else but his ‘’Seagulls’’. It was the same after he’d read Salinger’s ‘’Catcher In The Rye’’. Rudik had somehow got hold of a copy of the ‘’Inostrannaya Literatura’’ magazine containing the novel and brought me it the same evening.. Beside himself with anticipation, he pointed at magazine and vowed: ‘’No sleep for you tonight! You won’t be able to put this down!’’


But, for Rudik, the most important thing in his life was always ballet. Nowadays, a lot of dancers like to say that in their younger days  they never cared the slightest about what part they were offered to dance. They claim it’s art they  were after and the most important thing to them was the fact that the performance happened, everything else taking second place. Of course, I don’t know how true these statements really are. I tend to take such talk with a with a liberal pinch of salt. What I do  know for sure is that Rudik spent a great deal of time worrying about what part he was dancing and how he’d look on stage. The ballet itself still took first place for him. And, unlike some leading dancers of the later period, he always made an effort to see the performances of his fellow colleagues, genuinely reveling in their successes and grieving at any blunders in their dancing. I remember a matinee performances of ‘’The Nutcracker’’ when Dolgushin was dancing the lead role. Rudik was generosity itself, helping every which way he could, running around and taking photograph. Or, the dress rehearsal of ‘’A Leningrad Symphony’’ with Komleva dancing the Girl. As soon as Rudik found out the date of the rehearsal, he declared: ‘’We must go. Ella’s dancing.’’ And then there was Kostya Brudnov, a young  dancer wish the troupe. Rudik tried to work with him, believing Kostya was more naturally gifted than he was himself, the only difference being that Kostya didn’t make proper use of his talent.    


Yet Rudik never exactly hit it off with fellow dancers. The reason for this was simple enough: his character. Although it wasn’t in his nature to be envious, spoiled or malicious, he could still be astonishingly obnoxious, prickly and hot-tempered at times.  Add to that a complete absence of any outward luster that an education or solid family upbringing might have given him. Rudik was always very much himself, the only problem being that was how can I best put it? A most boorish self. He could never stifle the urge to  speak piercingly about someone. And so, although there were those who got on quite well with him, Rudik failed to make friends wish a single person in the Kirov.


At the start of our friendship, Rudik was very reserved. It was only when our relationship developed into a genuine friendship that he felt he could drop his guard. And he did just that. He would frequently throw a tantrum and storm off.  Then, the next thing you know, he’d be standing there waiting for you, grinning  foolishly, as if nothing had happened. As Rabelais once said, ‘’He who I love I beat.’’ Rudik even once said as much to me: ‘’You know something, Tamara? I’m an ungrateful reprobate. Which means it’s all the worse  for those I love most. And those I love most in  the world are you and Pushkin. So it’s your lot to suffer’’.


Warm words on the one hand. But, on the other, to bear all of Rudik’s tricks and his shouting which nobody was truly afraid of was really extremely irritating.  And yet I don’t think I ever once took offence. But for Pushkin, it was no doubt a hundred times worse. This man was more than just Rudik’s ballet coach. He devoted his entire body and soul to the young man from Ufa. He taught him classical ballet virtually from scratch and truly loved him lie a son, loving him for what he was, faults and all.


In the autumn of 1958, Rudik injured his foot while he was rehearsing ‘’Laurentia’’. I can’t remember what the injury was exactly, but he couldn’t dance for a certain period. So, Pushkin invited  him to move into his apartment for awhile. (Pushkin and his wife lived in one big room in a communal flat on Zodchevo Rossi). Rudik took up the offer and ended up staying there right up until that fateful flight to Paris on May 11th, 1961.


Pushkin was extremely mild-mannered man and so highly cultured that one couldn’t imagine him ever raising his voice, stamping his foot or uttering anything disparaging at anyone. He was always kind and benevolent, bright and cheery. So, when Rudik overstepped his mark and was openly rude to Pushkin, Rudik’s repentance knew no limits. He’d pine and suffer and try to somehow make amends. He would always promise that he’d never repeat such an incident. But then, after a while, he’d be rude to Pushkin all over again. Nevertheless, Pushkin always forgave him for everything. Even when Rudik defected, Pushkin was able to understand and forgive him, happy in the knowledge that his dear Mahmoudka had found fame in the West.


But that was much later on. Between the day we first met (in 1958) and May of 1961, so many different things happened that it seems 10 years must have passed, such was the range of different experiences and emotions  which transpired  during this time. And these were mostly all connected with Rudik’s activities at the theatre.


As I’ve already said, by the time I met Rudik he had already danced ‘’Laurentia’’ with Dudinskaya. It was his second role on the Kirov stage, the first one being a pas de trios from ‘’Swan Lake’’ which took place without much fanfare at the end of October, 1958. this pas de trios is basically a divertissement straight-forward classical ballet, without drama or any kind of  character development. However, the part of Frondoso demanded not just an ability to dance, but also a talent for acting, temperament and the ability to take on a role and structure the performance. It’s really a big part and was a test of sorts for Rudik, to prove that he was actually worthy of the title of soloist. It was a test which he passed with distinction.


Not that it was an easy ride for him. After all, Frondoso had been danced on the Kirov stage by  such start as Chaboukiani. So, yesterday’s schoolboy had to not only  follow in their footsteps, but also make the role his very own, memorable and unique. Which Rudik did. Choreography was well-suited to his technique and temperament and he didn’t have to work particularly hard on the character. It all came so easily and naturally to him. Very possibly, Rudik’s success and the audience’s warm reception were somewhat responsible for his being awarded his next role in the spring of 1959: that on Armen in the ballet ‘’Gayane’’


I personally don’t think I can add anything new concerning Rudik’s interpretation of Armen to that which I’ve already said regarding Frondoso. It was a fine, masterly and energetic performance, bat try s I might, I can’t say much more. It’s no doubt due to the similarities between the heroes  of those ballets of Khachaturian’s and Krein’s. both are simply peasant lads, both are in love, ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their loved ones. Southern blood burns in them both (Spanish blood in one, Armenian in the other) and both are cast in the ‘’worker-hero’’ mould. Maybe it is this rather stringent conventionality and the absence of a sublime yet believable opening that is the reason why a  Spanish peasant from the age of the Renaissance always looked so extraordinarily similar to an Armenian shepherd of rather more modern Soviet times on the Kirov stage. Thus it is extremely difficult to differentiate between Rudik’s Frondoso and Armen. In ‘’L.’’ he selflessly fought against the cruel knight commander; in ‘’Gayane’’ it was against the insidious spy who tries to steal rare mineral  samples from soviet geologists. In ‘’L.’’ he fearlessly defends his loved one, just as in ‘’G.’’. In ‘’L.’’ Frondoso performs a dazzling inflammatory dance with castanets, while in ‘’G.’’ Armen delights the shepherds when he dances with flaming torches…


And so that is how the following situation arose. Come the start of the new season Rudik already had two main parts in major ballets, as well as several divertissement numbers (a  pas de deux from ‘’Le Corsaire’’, a variation from ‘’Esmeralda’’ that he had  danced when  he was still at Ballet School and a pas de trois from ‘’Swan Lake’’), in his repertoire. He’d already scored success on the Kirov stage and  recognition abroad. In the spring of 1959, Rudik traveled to the Festival of Young People in Vienna, where he and A. Sizova were awarded a gold medal for their faultless execution of ‘’Le Corsaire’’. The same pas de deux in which he had shined so brilliantly during his final exam. In fact, Nureyev and Sizova received the highest score possible: 10.


At the mere mention of Nureyev’s name, both ‘’L.’’ and ‘’G.’’ sprung to mind; however, no one could’ve imagined him in a romantic ballet such as ‘’Swan Lake’’ or ‘’Sleeping Beauty’’. And the situation wasn’t  helped much by his ‘’Nutcracker’’, which he’d danced at Ballet School but which hadn’t left any memorable impression. The notion  of Nureyev as Siegfried or Albrecht seemed  incongruous, and even experienced ballet critics couldn’t picture Rudik possessing any bent for lyricism or the capability an elevated poetic image. But Rudik overcame this prejudice and December of 1959 saw him dancing Albrecht on the Kirov stage. It was, however, a long and difficult road to ‘’Giselle’’. One important stepping stone along the way was another role he danced, a role which showed to the public a whole new side of Rudik: the part of  Solor in the ballet ‘’ La Bayadere’’.


Like ‘’L.’’  and ‘’Le Corsaire’’, ‘’La Bayadere’’ is also exotic and oriental and whoever plays Solor must possess no  less temperament and no less ability in order to convey its specifically southern nature. The only difference is that here it isn’t a slave or a courageous peasant who’s standing before the audience, but an aristocrat a warrior by heredity, from the kshatri caste. This in itself required a completely different interpretation from what Rudik had been used to. The role demands that the performer display a sober and meditative attitude towards the temperament, fiery dancer, as well as great internal stability. What’s more, the drama of  ‘’La Bayadere’’ is afar cry from the politically-correct ‘’G.’’. For, although we also have a simple, ever banal, plot here a love triangle, the rivalry of two beauties, infidelity, murder and the immortality of sincere passions it’s so much more difficult to make this lofty faire-tale of love work than it is to perform a multi-colored Soviet propaganda piece like ‘’G.’.


As it was for ‘’L.’, Rudik’s  partner for ‘’La Bayadere’’ should have been N. Dudinskaya. He had rehearsed with her in preparation for the premiere on October 23rd, 1959. However, on the very day of the performance, Rudik was informed that Dudinskaya was ill and that he’d have to dance with a another partner. You can imagine how Rudik must have felt. Dancing wish a new partner is hard  enough in itself, but without a single rehearsal, especially for premiere. And, on top of that, ‘’La Bay.’’  Isn’t an easy ballet. It’s normal to experience stage  fright prior to one’s first performance of any b., but here it was thought that the sheer nervous tension would exceed al conceivable and inconceivable limits. Yet it wasn’t to be. For it turner out that Rudik was psychologically ready for such an unexpected  change of events. And, although it was officially announced that Dudinskaya had injured her foot and was unable to dance, rumors of a quarrel or some kind of argument had long been circulating around the theatre. Whether or not these  were true, I don't know. But I do know that Rudik wasn't exactly surprised at this last-minute change of  ballerinas. O. Moiseyeva took over the role of Nikiya,  so Rudik's Solor was something of an  improvisation for both of them, since Moiseyeva was already an experienced dancer (she had performed ''La Bay'' many times before) and Rudik was only just beginning his second season at the theatre.


In spite of everything , the performance was a sparkling success. Rudik's Solor was completely unlike either  his Frondoso or his Armen or the slave  in ''Le Corsaire''. He was an aristocratic, even royal, Indian youth.  His movements bore an unusual refinement and dignity, particularly stunning in first act's adagio and wonderful pas d'actions, and in the eternally beautiful but tragic act ''The Kingdom of the Shades''. Rudik was the first ever to perform a double-circular assemble in the ''Shades'' coda. This step so suited the ballet's choreographic fabric that, to this day, it's repeated by dancers everywhere — by  those who can, of course. Rudik's performance was a success you   could ever say, a triumph and went a long way in preparing the audience for  another performance of his a month later: ''Giselle''.


I have to say at this point that there was hardly anyone who believed in the success of this up-coming ''Giselle'', even after ''La Bay''. No one expected a flop, but disappointment seemed inevitable. At long last, opening night arrived: December 12th, 1959. Although  Saturdays were working days, the Kirov was nevertheless packed to overflowing. People were standing in the boxes, everyone was  waiting. And I was there too, sitting in the front  row. Because I knew what failure could   mean for him, I don't know who was the more nervous, Rudik or I. he had dreamed so long of dancing the part of Albrecht and had pinned all has hopes on the success of ''Giselle''. I, unlike completely in Rudik's talent and in his wisdom even though I expected his performance to  be somewhat untraditional. But that wasn't important. What was important was that he succeeded in producing something special,  memorable and, most important of all, original.                                                                                     


And so, the lights were dimmed, the overture began and on its final chords the curtain went up. Up on the stage merry bands of peasant lads and lasses marched towards each other and from behind Giselle's little house there came a young count, accompanied by his sword-bearer. It was all just as I am describing it right now. There wasn't the slightest hint of acting on Rudik's part. It was a real count who was standing in front of me on the stage, an aristocrat  by birth, who remained  one right up until the final moment of his astounding performance.


I was  right to believe that Rudik would be an untraditional Albrecht. Before him, Sergeyev interpreted the role differently and many  dancers had gone on to passing fancy and fails to take the young peasant girl seriously.  Only at the tragic end of his encounter does he feels any repentance. On the other hand, Rudik's Albrecht was true to Giselle from the very beginning. And like Giselle, he himself is a victim of circumstances and suffers deeply as a result. His love for her isn't just a flirtation; it's a love that perhaps ever he's afraid to acknowledge. Rudik's Albrecht meant that many scenes were  interpreted in a whole new way. The famous mad scene ceased to be a soliloquy. It was no longer just about Giselle's mad despair; it was now also about the suffering of the wretched count whose feelings were concealed behind a mask of inertia.

The emotional impact was staggering. Tears unwittingly sprung to my eyes and I had a lump in  my  throat during the entire second act, from the moment the    count appeared at night in the gloomy cemetery. Remorse forcer Albrecht to lay a bouquet of white lilies on the grave of his beloved. Overwhelmed by sorrow, the young lover moves cautiously about the stage. He's bringing not only flowers, but also his heart to the grave of the girl who embodies everything in the world dear to him. The expression on his face isn't brought on by any belated pangs of conscience, but by the unendurable pain of loss and despair. Rudik's acting was absolutely unbelievable. I can't describe it any other way.


Rudik was very  to have been partnered in ''Gis'' by I. Kolpakova. Their duet together was en unforgettable success. Unfortunately, this was the first and last time that these 2 dancers performed on the Kirov stage together. Which is a real shame, for the tender, lyrical Kolpakova beautifully complemented the lively, young Nureyev. They made an inimitable couple, but sadly it was only to happen that once.


When the curtain came down, I thought the Kirov's crystal chandelier was going to come crashing to the ground. So tremendous was the applause in recognition of this unexpectedly victorious performance. V. Krasovskaya, in a book about ballet live at the Kirov during the years 59—60, wrote these words about Rudik's premiere: ''He came out… and he conquered.'' This was possibly Rudik's greatest performance the whole time he was in Leningrad.   After that, there was ''Swan Lake'', ''Sleeping Beauty'', ant other ''Gis'' , but he was never again to emulate the triumph I saw on that December 12th of 59. The audience was on its feet, cheering and throwing him flowers, while I sat in my seat and tried to recover my breath. I felt as if I had just danced the ballet myself, even my muscles were aching. Of course, I was concerned for my friend who was up there on stage actually dancing the role, but I also poured everything I had into Rudik's performance, as if I too had been dancing. And there was a reason for this: whenever  R. was dancing, the spectator always experienced an amazing feeling of participation. He   knew how to cast a spell over his audience. It was a rare gift and one note very dancer possessed, not even the best ones. When he was on stage, you somehow never wanted to look at anyone else. In fact, perhaps ''wanted '' isn't the right word; it was just simply impossible to take your eyes off R., independent of whether he was dancing, standing, sitting or walking across the stage.                                                                                                  


60 was the first and last time that I met Rudik's mother  ( I was never to meet his father). She had come on a short visit to Leningrad and came along to a performance at the theatre. She wore a fur coat that R. had bought for her in Bulgaria. The two of as went along to the theatre and, a usual, before entering the hall we our coats in the cloakroom. His mother was like a cat on hot bricks the whole of the first act and the minute the curtain dropped she ran off to see if her fur coat was still in one piece. She was a dear little thing.  She  spoke Russian badly and would converse with R. exclusively in Tatar.  I  ever learned one phrase off by heart, so often did I hear it spoken: ''Akcha bar?'' (Got any money? ), which is what R. would ask every time I saw them together. ''Iok'' (No) , would come the  reply and without a word R. would reach into his pocket for money.  The next time it would be the same all over again.


That year a series of scandals erupted in the theatre, the cause of which was, unsurprisingly, R.. Or rather, his eternal behavior. What happened was that they were rehearsing when in walks M. Mikhailov. He was a coach at the theatre and at the Ballet School, besides being a respected, elderly gentleman. So in he comes, just at the time when R. is rehearsing. Now, R. did not recognize any other ballet teacher but Pushkin. Mikhal Mikhalovich watches the rehearsal and then makes a remark to R. .  R. at that takes Mikhailov by the elbow and marches him out of the hall with the words, ''I don't need any **** al **** aches getting on my  nerves!'' Just like that! The case with the completely blameless old Mikhailov, by the way, had no consequences for R.


About a month passed and the whole interlude was repeated all over again. Only this time it wasn't M. M. who dropped in on one of Pushkin's classes, but Sergeyev himself. Like Mikhailov, he stood on the side for a bit and watched, and then passed along some comment. Not actually to R. , but to someone else. He was perfectly entitled to be so not only was Sergeyev a fine dancer in his day, he was now the theatre's artistic director, the one responsible for seeing that the dancers were properly prepared. In addition, Sergeyev was much older and more experienced then R.. that's the way we saw it. Of course, R. saw it all in quite a different light: Pushkin was his teacher, which meant that Sergeyev had no business making comments! R. was indignant. He opened his eyes wide, raised his eyebrows and said, ''Konstantin Mikhailovich, the door's over there!'' Out loud! To Sergeyev! In front of everybody! Naturally, matters couldn't rest at that. And they didn't. A general meeting was held, with the question of the unethical behavior of R. Nureyev top of the agenda.  We all  felt that the administration wasn't about to pull any punches this time and expected R. to  get his marching orders.      


When I heard about it, I begged R. to try to make amends: ''R. , please tell them you were wrong. Tell them you promise that it'll never happen again. And, what's more, don't be rude to anyone. Understand?'' I suppose you're right,'' he replied. ''I won't be rude to anyone. And I won't answer back. Let them talk away, I won't say a word. I'll go and confess and hold my tongue.'' In that frame of mind, R. set off for Zodchevo Rossi (At the time, both the Kirov's administration and rehearsal studios were located in the building of the Ballet School.) I wasn't at the meeting myself, but R. had told me it would all be over by 7 o'clock. So, wish a beating heart, around  7 I headed down to the Ballet School. One after another, the dancer began coming out. The door slammed, then R. at long last appeared. Beaming like a May rose if you'll forgive the hackneyed expression. Happy and proud of himself, a hero and a victor. He wasn't alone; with him were Dolgushin and his wife. ''Well, how did you get on? Did you behave yourself?'' ''I did ,'' R. said, adding: ''Everything's fine. I didn't say a word, wasn't rude to a soul. I just sat there and answered their questions, so everything's fine. '' ''What sort of question?'' I asked. ''Oh, they went on and on about my behavior and I said: 'You must understand that I didn't mean anything by it. It's just that there was a teacher in the studio who has his own methods. I don't think it's right for anyone to disturb him.  There's no need to make everyone the same, unless you want to have (here he had pointed toward Soloviev, one of Savrov's students) a bunch of  ''Shavrovites''  jumping around the stage!' I almost died. In fact, for a moment I actually lost  the power of speech. ''R..'' I began. ''What were you thinking of? Instead of asking them to forgive you, you've managed to insult two more people.'' ''Really?'' he said, the thought never seeming to have entered his head. ''Insulted them? Who?'' Shavrov and Soloviev. Both of them wish the one  stone,'' I replied. ''Insulted them? Strange….'' He stood  there dumbstruck for a moment, then the mood of the all-conquering hero returned and he announced, ''Just don't let them bug me!''  He was clearly once again happy and pleased with himself. I don't exactly remember the outcome of that infamous meeting. Whatever it was, I don't think it was much more than a rap across the knuckles. They obviously realized it was a lost cause, as far as R. was concerned.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


It wasn't only at the Kirov that R. provoked quarrels. For example, one day the television station phoned R. at home (i. e., at Pushkin's flat) with an offer of work to shoot a concert or something like that. They addressed R. patronymic  is a difficult one to remember Khametovich. So, the phone rings and R. answers it. ''Hello,'' they start off, ''Good afternoon, Rudolf Khametovich…'' 'Who's Khamidvich?! My name's not Khamidvich!'' shouts R. throwing down the receiver. I guess it wouldn't surprise you if  I said this was the last time the television station ever telephoned R..


There were times, however, when Rudik's behavior really landed him in trouble. At the beginning of 61, something happened which I feel R. must have regretted all his life, even if he would never admit it. The events revolve around ''The Legend of Love'', which Grigorovich was choreographing for the Kirov. R. was invited to play Ferhad. I say that that he was ''invited'', but that wasn't really the case.  The ballet was actually being staged especially for him. R. enjoyed working wish Grigorovich; the role was an interesting one and a whole host of possibilities of trying his hand at something new was opening up. R. was happy and it appeared that he couldn't have asked for more. Nevertheless, an unfortunate incident occurred not long before the premiere. Dancers were still in the midst of rehearsing ''Legend'' when R. began gathering up his things to leave. You see, R. was supposed to be in another studio rehearsing ''L'' wish Shelest, but Grig. Had allowed his rehearsal of ''Leg'' to drag on. I don't know what actually transpired with Grig., but it's obvious that all R. needed to do was explain the situation like a normal human being, without going over the top. But, oh no, not R.. Without waiting for the rehearsal to finish, he begins making a show of packing up his stuff. ''R., where are you going? I haven't yet said we're finished.''  


''Yuri Nikolaevich, I'm off to rehearse some proper dances!'' declared R. as he heads for the door.  ''You realize that of you leave now there's no turning back?'' But Rudik offered no reply and calmly walked out the studio, closing the door behind him. He either calculated on Grig. swallowing the insult and forgetting about it, or else he believed all too  piously in his own indispensability. The upshot was that there really was no turning back and Grig. removed him from the performance.  R. took this very badly, although he tried not to show it, boasting it  was their loss and  his gain. He didn't even go to the premiere. But I did. I phoned him after the first act. ''Well, how's it going down?'' he asked. 'Not bad, but that's about all I can say.'' (It  was true. The success was to come in the third act.) ''Ah…,'' he said, as if not terribly interested. However, when the second act was over,  I went into the foyer and who  should I come across but R. . He'd been  unable  to restrain himself and had come over. There he was, standing with a vacant look on his face, like some Childe Harold  in a suit and tie. We sat through the third act and it was only then that I realized just how hurt he truly was and how much he wanted to dance this ballet. And he never  lost hope of dancing it. When they sent his luggage back from Paris in the summer of 1961. among the things I found were all his costumes for the  part of Ferhad. I'm sure R. never thought as none of as did back then that he'd eve cross the Soviet border again.      


But that was much later. At the time, thanks to his eternal character, he had to make do without ''Legend''.  However, every cloud has a silver lining and this one took the form of an unexpected reconciliation    with Sergeyev. You see, Sergeyev and Grig. were rivals not unusual when you have two prominent masters so when R. was banished from one group the other immediately accepted him with open arms. And Ser. immediately  gave him two leading role: Siegfried in ''Swan Lake'' and the Prince in ''Sleeping Beauty''. This, of course was one for the record books. R. told me the news when we were seated in the Philharmonic Hall together. I hadn't bothered waiting at the door for him, since I knew he was coming straight from rehearsals and might be late. I went in and took my seat. With the orchestra about ready to begin, R. turned up looking disheveled but joyous. He sat down and announced gleefully, ''The score is 2-0. We Win!!!'' At which point, somebody in the row behind told us (quite rightly) to shut up and stop spoiling things for everyone else.  So, what do you think R. did? Stop talking? You'll never guess. He sits up straight in his seat and shouts out lout in an exaggerated Odessa accent, ''What did you say, what? Oh, gonna give it a rest?!''. Having come out with this, he falls silent, while every head in the to look. I squirm in my seat and pray that the ground will just open and swallow me up. But R. just sits there, totally unconcerned, as if this was acceptable behaviour for the Philharmonic.  He look at the stage, his mind elsewhere, no doubt lost in the music.                            


Sometimes, I'd also have reason to squirm in my seat even when R. was being as good as gold. For instance, he had an uncanny ability to pick out faces in a crowd, without having to strain his eyes or anything. He was simply capable of spotting individual people and would always notice an interesting face in the audience. Picture the following situation: it's the third act of ''Don Quixote''  the tavern scene. R. had danced this ballet many times before and was always peeved that it contained so few dances, considering how long it was. Being on stage wasn't enough for R.; he had to dance. But there just aren't many dances in the tavern scene. So, R. is sitting there on stage, bored stiff. He catches my eye and begins to smile. Yes, he's smiling and nodding away to a friend in the audience. Of course, the public immediately reacts. How? Quite simply: everyone in the theatre turns their head in my direction, wondering what on earth Nureyev is looking at. And I'm sitting there thinking, here we go again.          


You  see, R. could always find me no matter where I  was seated in the audience. He didn't make such a show of it on every occasion,  but most of the time he did. To begin with, he'd want to be sure I had made it to the theatre safely. He'd also want to make sure that I had an expression of utter delight on my face and my eyes were wide open in wander. If so, all was well. But, if not… On April 23rd of 1960, R. had another premiere: dancing the Bluebird in ''Sleeping''. Theoretically, this part was supposed to be a highly educational experience in regards  to his ballet career. To tell the truth, I didn't think he was particularly well-suite for the role (even though he had rehearsed it longer and more zealously than any other part). It seemed such a small order to dance a mere divertissement after having  danced Albrecht on ''Giselle''. But that's the way it was… Anyway, I'm sitting in the hall tying to figure out what I  can possibly say to him. How can I be diplomatic? R. took a longtime after the curtail came down and when he did appear, he walked right past me, only stopping to shout: ''Rather than sitting  at my performances with such a mug, you'd be better off not coming at all!'' He had taken offence my ''mug'' was abvertising hoarding on the corner. Even though I hadn't been wearing the right mug.         


Most of the time, however, my mug passed the test. And, despite his hot temper and sharp tongue, R, was an extremely devoted friend, faithful and dependable. I lost count of the times people attempted to break us  up during those 3 years. I think they must have tried every trick in the book. But each time R. stood by me. Once, someone decided to phone E. Pazhi to inform her that I was only after Nureyev's wage packet. It went on: she'll get to marry her and then she'll be in clover the rest of her days; she'll milk him for all he's worth, the little tramp… She listened open-mouthed to all this, believing every word. So, when R. was next away on tour (for 40 days in East Germany wish Kurgapkina), I phoned the Pazhis to ask of they had any news on him. ''Hello there, Elizaveta Mikhailovna,'' I began, ''How are you?'' ''And what's it to you, dear?!'' was the answer  I got. I was so taken aback that I couldn't even find the words to carry on. R. was  similarly stunned by the way she talked tone and resolved to have it out with the Pazhis. I never found out what he said, but I do know that he dropped all contact wish them. all my inquiries were met with a wave of his hand, as if it was nothing important. And although I know that the confrontation must have been a source of great pain for him, he refused to speak with the Pazhis until E. M. apologized to me. There were many other incidents like this throughout our three years together.                 


R. combined a deep loyalty to those he loved with a ruthless streak of independence. He could be incredibly possessive, yet he'd never allow himself to be considered anyone else's properly.

Even then he was a struggling student, he refused the student grant  which the Bashkirian Ministry of Culture wired him monthly. He sent it all back down to the last kopeck. This of course meant that on graduating he was under no obligation to return to Ufa. Instead, he was master of his own fate.


While we're on the subject of Rudik's good points, I feel I should single out one more, possibly his most significant one: he was very demanding of himself. I've already mentioned his constant desire  to fill in all the gaps in his education. This was just one of the forms that this characteristic of his took. Also, he could rehearse until he dropped sharpening a nuance, or endlessly repeating a difficult sequence of steps just so that it would appear effortless on stage. When he heard than E. Bruhn Had performed a big pirouette as a triple (i.e. on the half-points he would turn three times in an a la second position),  R. started rehearsing this rotation every day for hours on end in an attempt to emulate Erik. R. was very ambitious and would never allow anyone better him at anything.                                               


And his relationship wish his fellow dancers was far  from healthy. Being so very  demanding of himself, he expected likewise from his partners. One of his habits was simply to hold his partner particularly on her pirouettes and not give her any help in turning. Not that he  would impede her dancing: he just didn't want to push her movements along if it meant sacrificing what he should be doing.. In other words, he provided the minimum amount of help possible. There was an unwritten rule that the ballerina should be ''slightly'' supported and R. carried out this rule to the letter. I could go on at length about the many ways he managed t translate the word ''slightly''. For instance, after a certain performance, R. said to me: ''When she started to slip on her third turn, she threw me a hateful look! But what was I supposed to do? Carry her around like a stevedore? If you can't stand on your feet,, then you shouldn't be on the stage. And, if you have to go on stage, than dance by yourself!'' Well, you can imagine how remarks like went down.                                                    


Another example of R. conceit was the attention he gave to his appearance, particularly to his stage costume. This leg to many extraordinary occurrences, like the time he was dancing ''Don Quixote''   at the Kirov. The first 3 acts passed without incident. The tavern scene drew to a close and the audience went out into the foyer to stretch their legs, chat, have a drink at the bar and generally take a break. 10 minutes go by. Then 15, 20, 30,40…. No one has a clue why the interval is dragging on so long and why there's no bell. Even today, in our age of temperamental ballet stars, an interval lasting an hour would cause a lot of bewilderment. But, back then, a break this long was almost unheard of. The break goes on, the audience is lowing and quietly complaining. Just then a disheveled Xenia Josifovna ran up to me and said: ''Tamara, could you possibly talk to R.? Please, call him on the house phone. He thing is, he won't wear his trousers!'' she was terribly upset on the verge of tears. Before I had a chance to help, the first bell rang and 10 m. later everyone was back in their seats.


The problem had been that Basil's costume for the last act of '' D. Q''  was slightly different from the one worn today. One essential difference  was the short, baggy trousers, which R. had never liked. They made his legs appear shorter and the line of leg was less evident. Anyway, R. had decided that nothing on Earth would make hi wear these shorts for the fourth act, adding: ''Why should I?  In the West, they've  been dancing in tights for years, and so will I!'' He had obviously dug his heels in and wouldn't budge: ''What do I need lampshades like these for? I've got  enough lampshades of my own!'' In those days, the Kirov was very strict regarding everything in the theatre. If a 'brise'' was the step, then a ''brise'' was what you were expected to dance, and not an ''entrechat six''. And if you were expected to dance in trousers, then trousers were what  you danced in, and not a pair of tights.  So, as it turns out, a big scandal had taken place backstage with  Sergeyev, while we all stood out front and  wondered why the interval was taking so long.                 


This ''D. Q.'' Was far from being a simple ballet for R.. He first danced it on May 27th of 1960. And, in an end-of-the-year review, Krasovskaya had utterly pulled his performance apart. R. himself mad no claims to a  faultless performance, but in her opinion he had failed to create a character, had lacked artistic talent and had danced it too much like a divertissement. I never agreed with her on this. I always believed the ballet itself wasn't anything more than  a brilliant divertissement and didn't require serious work on character development since it lacked any real drama. The performer has only to be energetic (infectiously so), stylish and in possession of a good sense of humor. All of which R. was, besides being a first-class dancer. But what can you do? Krasovskaya was  Krasovskaya, even if R. and I never particularly liked her article.


During there years, there was no end of things which played on Rudik's nerves often for no reason at all.  One such case was the pas de quatre from ''Raymonda''.   R. hadn't danced it often, but each time that he did he acted as if he were being sentenced to had labor. He really didn't  like this divertissement;  in fact, he hated it. He felt it offered him no freedom of  expression and, worst of all, that he was just one of 4 identical dancers, dressed the same and dancing the same. And to force R. into a crowd scene meant killing any interest he might have had in the part. The premiere of ''Swan Lake'' in April. of 1961 was also marred by an unpleasant episode. R. was supposed to have partnered the prima Zubkovskaya. But she point-blank refused   to dance wish R., declaring according to witnesses that she didn't want to have him spoil her entire performance. You can't really blame her, considering Rudik's ''slight'' support of his partners. Nevertheless, the fact remained that Zubkovskaya refused to dance wish R.  an that was that. There thus arose a completely impasse situation: both Moieyeva and Osipenko happened to be ill at the time, which meant there was no one to dance wish R. on opening  night of ''Swan Lake''. A solution was finally found when N. Kurgapkina saved the day by offering to dance with R. So, the ''S. L'' in April of 1961 was actually a  double premiere, since Kurgapkina had never danced it before.                                                         


When I say about Rudik's performance in ''S. L.''? Probably the same as for his in ‘'Sleeping Beauty'' (which R. also danced for  the first time that month). As you'll recall, R. was awarded the two parts by Sergeyev after the Grigorovich scandal. But there was hardly  any time to rehearse both roles. The reason for this was due to the fact that the Kirov was getting ready for a big tour to Paris and London a tour that would so unexpectedly change the whole of Rudik's life. Before you were allowed to dance  abroad, you had so satisfy a certain number of requirements, one of which the theatre was adamant  about: the ballets that a dancer performs abroad had to have already been performed at home by that dancer in front of an audience on more than one occasion. No one could do anything about this role not that anyone ever tried. So that was the reason for their mad rush. In the space of a month they had to prepare and put on two extremely difficult ballets, each of which would have been an unforgettable event in the life of any dancer. A great deal of preparation never took place, so neither ''S. L.'' nor ''Sleeping'' was a turning point in Rudik's  career at least not while he was at the Kirov. The two ballets could have been, except that R. was never allowed proper preparation, not in the dancer or in the roles or in the dramatic art, although he did perform his variations with brilliance and style. So, while his ''Giselle'' and ''La Bayadere'' were revelations, ''Swan Lake'' and  ''Sleeping Beauty'' were not.               


A similar thing happened with the role of the Prince in ''The Nutcracker''. In Feb. 1961 R. performed this role for the first time since finishing School. It  was clear right from the very start what the end results would be. After all, where is there any originality or depth in ''The Nut.''? Masha and the young prince in love, small adagio and pas de deuxit was al there. R. and Sizova's duet was a good enough performance: the leaping and rotating as excellent as they always were, but that was about it. ''Sleeping Beauty''  contains slightly more action, but there's a distinct lack  of any kind  of internal conflict, which meant that R. was never given the opportunity to really shine. Who knows, if hi hadn't defected, R. might have been able to make something out of these parts in subsequent performance? (Incidentally, R. always tried to be innovative and interesting. In his first ''Swan Lake'', for example, he sported a gray wig and a large, false nose no doubt in the belief that this was the way to portray a true Aryan type. He had very little time to rehearse ''S. B.'', so the ballet even though a success for R. was what you might call ''a passing performance''.


He didn't know it  than, but fate was to assign a special role to this ballet later on in his life. After R. became the first defector in the whole history of Russian ballet, there was a period in his life when he could find no work in the West worthy of his talent and so, to earn his crust, he joined the Marquis de Cuevas Ballet Company,  a third-rage French company. The only ballet they presented was ''S. B.'', so every evening R. would appear either as Desire or as the Bluebird…or simply in a crowd scene.


And while we're on the subject of the vicissitudes of fate, here's one more. While Rudik's Siegfried wasn't making headlines (at least not when he was at the Kirov), another small, virtually unnoticed part left many vivid memories and deserves to go down as an unquestionable triumph. The one I'm talking about is that  of Bacchus in Walpurgisnacht from ''Faust''. Or rather, not the part of Bacchus, but Rudik's interpretation of the role. He performed it just once, in November of 1960. why did this small variation make more of an impression on me than the whole of ''Swan Lake''? It's hard to Say. Rudik's Bacchus was truly original beautiful, demonic, even erotic. What was particularly striking was that   R. succeeded in casting an image from the very minute he walked on stage. He made an unforgettably Bacchus, passionate and enigmatic a half-naked devil with the body of Apollo, reveling in the nocturnal rites of spring. Sadly, this was to be the only time he even danced ''Faust''.  


Another part that R. was to dance only once at the Kirov was Andrei in ''Taras Bulba''. There's actually quite a funny story attached to this performance as well. It happened, as I remember it now, on April 1961, the last show before the tour. R. danced a pas de deux from ''The Nutcracker'' at it and we had agreed to meet up with each other at the interval between the second and third acts. The interval passed with no R.. After the third bell I returned to my seat and the lights went out… Now, the third act had a piece from ''Taras Bulba''. Without warning, R. appeared on stage, white as a sheet, with a tatty costume hanging limply on his shoulders. What had happened was that after his ''Nutcracker'' R. had taken off his make-up and was preparing to leave when it was discovered that Bregvadze, who was playing Andrei, had injured his foot dancing. They had rushed to find a replacement and had asked R.. True, he had never danced or ever rehearsed the part before, but he know it well enough simply from having frequently sees the ballet and so was  able to improvise something on the spur of the moment.  A Ukrainian shirt and a pair of wide trousers were thrown on him and he was shoved out on the stage before he had time to put his make-up back on (which accounted for the ill-fitting costume and his very pale face). Fortunately, this excerpt from  Soloviev-Sedoi's ballet wasn't a long one  and Rudik's impromptu performance was such  a complete success that an inexperienced eye would have spotted nothing strange at all.                                                                    


There was another unpleasant incident that night. The problem stemmed from the fact that some of Rudik's fans misread his relationship wish them. For these particular fans, it clearly wasn't enough just to chat wish their idol outside Door 12 after the performance. These fans who all happen to be female dreamed of a totally different relationship with R. and were sorely disappointed when not even a friendship wish him developed, not to mention something more romantic. As everyone known, it's only one step from love to hate, and overnight Rudik's most ardent admirers became his worst enemies. They'd shout abuse at as he walked down the street and ring him up at all hours of the night. Telephones at that time  couldn't be disconnected, which meant that these phone calls made life unbearable for the whole Pushkin household. The one who suffered most of all was of course A, Pushkin, who was forced to bear their malicious calls as he lay in bed at night with a blood pressure of 220. they even went as far as trying to persuade the Komsomol to develop a campaign against ''hero worship''.


These fanatical young women finally decided to take action into their own hands. According to rumors, they were planning to bring birch twigs to the theatre to throw at R. in place of flowers. Rudik's friends and devoted fans were worried sick. Thrown on stage, birch twigs aren't just a sign of displeasure;  they're the equivalent of a public slap in the face for a performer. We racked our brains trying to figure out how we could cover up the twigs so that the audience couldn't see what had happened. But, luckily, none were thrown on to the stage that night, just a tiny bouquet of violets, wish the note: ''An ass will always be an ass, although you cover him wish flowers!'' No one in the audience noticed this bouquet what with all the other flowers and least of all the note.


These 2 incidents took place on April 30th. On May 11th, R. flew off to Paris with the rest of the Kirov Company, even though it wasn't certain up until the last minute that he'd part of the tour. Rumor had it that the administration was planning to trim back the number of people going. If that was true, than R. with his endless feuds at the theatre was bound to be the first one sacrificed. But, in the end, nothing came of it. R. was included in the group and so there he was at Pulkovo Airport. There's the usual crush and madness. They finally announced boarding. We kissed each other good-bye and than R., carrying his suitcases, disappeared behind the doors leading to passport control. Who  would have thought  we wouldn't see each other again for another 30 years…


Xenia Josifovna and I traveled back from the airport   together, a major event in itself since we hadn't been on speaking terms for the past year. And, as usual, it was R. who was to blame. Once he finished reading ''Catcher In The Rye'', he was supposed to give it to me to read. But X. J.  wanted it also. ''What do you need it for, X. J.?''  asked Rudik. ''Tamara can have thirty new thoughts in the time it takes you to come up wish one!'' With those words, he disappeared out the door. Of course, as irony would have it, it was me that X. J. took offence with and so for a whole year she refused to speak to me. During that entire period, I didn't receive a single invitation to the Pushkins's house, even though Pushkin and I remained friends and continued to go out to places with R..  but the day that R. left for Paris, X. J. as unexpectedly as when she first took offence suddenly tempered her feelings towards me. We journeyed back to the city together and went to the Sever Cafe, chatting away as if nothing had even happened.                                                 


Who could have thought that X. J. would never see her Mahmoudka again? She died in the early 1970?s after a difficult surgical operation. Not long before that, in March of 1970, Pushkin had died on the street of a heart attack. None of as expected things to turn out like this and how could we? We all believed that R. would return for awhile to his life with the Pushkins on Zodchevo Rossi. (Where else could he go?) After that, the question of his permanent housing would eventually be sorted out and everything would be like it always had been. R. had long dreamed of having his own little place, even if it was only a tiny apartment with only a table and couch, where he could retire to one day and hide from the world.


But it was not to be. I just lay there, that summer of 1961, thinking and looking back over my life. I had no idea what fate had in store for us. I didn't  know that I would eventually be reinstated at university, though only after going right to the top, to the Communist Party Central Committee. I didn't know that they would make Pushkin and I write to R. persuading him to return (I couldn't find the words and ended up scribbling down some  nonsense accompanied by a few lines of poetry; R. took offence at as both, but then understood and forgave us). I didn't know that they would cook up a court case against R. and that they would sentence him in absentia to 7 years' loss of freedom for treason. I didn't know that the former director at the Kirov, Korkin, would bravely defend R. and that the KGB agent who had provoked him into making the leap would be thrown out of the organs. It was a closed trial and took place at the Municipal Court on the Fontanka.  The Pushkins engaged a lawyer who wanted to call me as a witness for the defence, but permission was denied.


Alla Osipenko, Rudik's sister Rosa and I listened to the proceedings through a chink in the half-open door. The article under which R. was sentenced carried a punishment of from 7 years' imprisonment to shooting, so the sentence was actually extremely light and some even supposed that R. would than hasten back home. I didn't know at that time that I would become a ''refusenik'' right up until the final victorious end (of the Communist regime). I didn't know that R. would one day have an island, a castle and fame. Neither did I know that fate had one last meeting in store for the two of as many years later in Leningrad. When I would have a grown son and R. almost unrecognizably after a long illness would return do dance the last performance of his life of the Kirov stage. I didn't know any of it at that time. I just lay there thinking, remembering…


It is article from the book " Three years at the Kirov theatre ". The author of a site thanks L.P.Myasnikova and T.I.Zakrzhevskaja for this gift.          


I search Natalia Makarovoj's  address. Help me, please. pion500@mail.ru


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