I’ll never forget that day
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
‘’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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Not that it was an easy ride for him. After all, Frondoso had been
danced on the
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
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
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
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
When the curtain came down, I thought the
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
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
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
It wasn't only at the
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
''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
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 ''
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
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
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
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
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 ''
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
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 ''
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
Another part that R. was to dance only once at the
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.
incidents took place on April 30th. On May 11th, R. flew off to
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
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.
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
It is article
from the book " Three years at the
I search Natalia Makarovoj's address. Help me, please. firstname.lastname@example.org