Worthy of admiration
My first formal meeting with Nureyev was on October 23 rd, 1959. When say
''first formal meeting'', I mean our first time together on stage, as fate had
already brought us together many time outside the theatre. R. joined the
A. Pushkin was both an extremely gifted teacher and a wonderful human being who adored R. and cared for him as if he were own son. Nureyev lived at Pushkin's place and was always made to feel like a treasured and welcome member of the family. Their relationship was more than just that of an instructor and his pupil. Pushkin always gave everything he had to his young students, so it's not surprising that he gave the world such brilliant dancers as Nureyev, Vikulov and Semyonov. Later on, at the beginning of the 1960's Baryshnikov would also end up living at Pushkin's, where he too was inducted into the secrets of ballet technique.
As I've said, R. was immediately put into the most advanced class, where
he studied alongside Makarov, Bregvadze and the younger Selyutsky and Vikulov.
Alexander Ivanovich's classes were always conspicuous in that they were very well planned and
never unnecessarily long, thus sparing one's legs and making the lesson all the
more absorbing. Pushkin was, of course, a great teacher and R. was grateful all
his live that he'd had the opportunity to work with him. Perhaps he didn't
realize it at the time (when he'd just arrived from
Right from his very first day, Nureyev was a well-know figure at the
theatre. He was much talked about — mostly about how talented, how
original and how very headstrong he was. And the truth is that Rudolf always
managed to quarrel with just about everyone, often over the smallest trifles
— things that others wouldn't pay any attention to at all. For example, there's tradition
R. had a very high opinion of himself, which didn't exactly endear him to fellow dancer. But there was nothing they could do about it. And this high opinion of himself very often led to conflicts.
But once he
become part of
Yes, it was a great stroke of luck for R. that he was able to perform with such wonderful dancers. From experience, I know demanding the ballet ''L'' is and simply rehearsing it is an education in itself (even if my own standards could never compare to those of Shavrov, Dudinskaya and the other for whom this ballet was designed). I think it must've meant a lot to R. that his ballet career got off to such an illustrious start.
Next came ''Gayane''. And then, following on their success in ''L'', Dudinskaya requested Nureyev to dance ''La Bayadere'' with her at the start of the upcoming season. This ballet was very well-suited to Rudolf. He and Natalia spent long time rehearsing it and no last-minute cast changes were ever allowed with Dudinskaya . No matter what, Dudinskaya always performed her roles; for her not to appear on stage would've taken something really out of the ordinary. Although I was her stand-by, I knew this about D. and never thought for a minute that my services would be required. That day, I was in rehearsal studio until 3 o'clock in the afternoon before heading home. I just arrived at my house and flopped into a chair when the phone rang. ''Get over to the theatre as fast as you can. You're dancing ''La Bayadere' tonight.'' ''No, I'm not. I can't dance 'Bayadere','' I said. ''Why not?'' Because I can't dance with Nureyev,,'' I replied. ''I've never so much as shaken his hand. How can I go on with a new partner and dance an entire ballet without even running through it once?'' ''We don't care,'' came the reply. ''Sergeyev says you have to. He's sending a car for you, so you'll just have to come!'' And so, before I knew it, they picked me up, brought me to the theatre, smeared make-up on me, dressed me and pushed me out onto the stage. I think a miracle must've taken place that night. Rudolf and I danced as if we were floating on air, without a single hitch.
Nowadays, some of R's partners who either danced or took class with him say that he held them badly. Speaking for myself, I can only say that we danced ''La Bayadere'' without even one rehearsal and it went like a dream. It was a great success and I remember Nureyev's fans who were waiting at the stage door, telling me, ''You're a brave women!'' and it's true that no one — least of all, I had expected things to come together so well. R. gave a whole new slant to the role of Solor. Before him, male dancers had always performed the Kingdom of the Shadows wearing wide trousers and dancing on low half-points. He was the first to dance this role using high half-points and it gave the impression that his legs and body were much longer than they actually were. (Later on, he extended this innovation — never tried before in Soviet ballet — to other roles as well.) R. was also the first to introduce a high passé into his pirouettes. He wore tights and had a stunning blue costume made for the final act of ''La Bay.''. he seemed to fly like the wind across the stage, in search of the Shadows and in search of his love. There was something almost demon-like about him, as if he himself had arisen from some mystical spirit kingdom. I found it all very vivid and delightful.
Rudik was also the first to do а double circular assemble in the соdа. After he did it, other dancers began to copy him. But Nureyev had one big advantage over them: form. Rudolf had perfect stage form. I rate him very highly as а dancer. It' s
my belief that he raised ша1е dancing in the world of ballet to new heights and, most important of all, introduced this whole new concept of form. Not that 1 rate an artist purely on the height of his half-points or his outstretched knees or his
pretty twirls. But Rudik possessed within his soul an unbelievable obsession for perfectionism, а constant desire to do the extraordinary, а yearning to fly up, up and away...
Maybe he lacked а classical education, but he always tried. And sometimes, he did in fact соmе across as being а bit absentminded; for ехашр1е, he could easily bring а piano back from а trip somewhere and yet forget his suitcase.
spent а great deal of time developing himself, we shouldn’t forget
his talent. Rudik was extremely talented. 1 believe that for an artist, you
must have talent in order to get inside а role. Nureyev possessed this
quality. It just саmе naturally to him. 1п "La Bayadere"
he was а mighty Indian warrior, in "Gayane" he а
temperamental Caucasian and in "
gentlemen of high stock, in а white wig. In real life; he was а totally different person, with an uncomplicated face and slightly slanting eyes.
placed great importance on following the long-held canons associated with each
production, maintaining everything just as tradition dictated. We were once
great success — and 1 asked him to pull mу hand to the side at the end of the Black Pas de Dеuх. At this point in the choreography, there are certain turns en dedans (now replaced by en dehors) and all our ballerinas tended to draw their
hands to the side and turn their legs in order to achieve greater force. So, 1 said, "Rudik, pull mу hand to the side." "No way," he said. "Do it as it should be done." And funnily enough, our turns саmе out perfect. Nureyev didn't like any
selfish showing оff, particularly on the stage; and he couldn't stand insincerity. Не believed — and 1 completely agree with him — that when there' s hypocrisy in art, then it ceases to be art. If there was something that he didn't quite feel, if
there was ever а mise en scene that he didn't quite follow, then he preferred just to stand there with а vacant expression on his face rather than pretend that he understood and try to bluff his way through.
danced а lot of parts his three years at the
still геmembег how well he danced, how he shone in his sky-blue costume as he performed his double assemblé. What fantastic form he was in!
government agents who accompanied us saw Rudik in an altogether different
light: they didn't like his independence and they didn't like his habit of
going out and meeting people on his own. And sо when we flew on to
Years have passed. What can 1 say now about Rudik? То mе, his greatest quality was his selfless devotion to ballet, from his head right down to his toes, right up to the day he died. Ballet was his whole reason for living. For him, it was life itself. I геmеmbег how we met many years later ш the mid-1980's at Раris Opera, where he was still artistic director, and I asked him, "Are you still dancing?" He was greatly offended by my question. From my point of view, I realized that he wasn`t а young boy anymore and thought there was nothing criminal in his retiring from the stage. Вut Rudik thought otherwise,
"Don' t you see the terrific shape Гm in?". Although it' s true he was still dancing and taking class, not everything he was doing was perfect. However, his double tour en t’ air from fifth position to fifth position, in either direction, was still brilliant and he was obviously proud of the fact that he could execute а movement many young dancer weren't capable of. Rudik adored the stage and the rehearsal studio. He lived to dance. It was the very air he breathed. Nowadays, 1 tell all young performers: "Соmе on, dance. Dance! Don' t work. Dапce!!!". There was never any need to say that to Rudik. Rehearsals and ballet classes were absolutely sacred things to him. No matter how he felt — even if he' d been out carousing with friends all night — he would still be there the next morning, doing all that was required of him. And on stage, he never gave anything short of а hundred per cent. Choreography, dancing, ballet: those were his reasons for living. And you can' t, 1 don' t think, get much more dedicated than that.
It is article
from the book " Three years at the