Some of my memories

                                              L. Myasnikova


I first became acquainted with Rudik just after he had arrived in Leningrad. He was extremely lonely in this cold, alien town, with its  inhospitable sea climate. The dank autumn days and frosty winter nights set you scurrying for the warmth and comfort of home. All that R. had against the frigid weather was a skimpy coat and his one little scarf. There was no cozy flat for him to retire to, only a bed in the Ballet School's student hostel. And since he was the new boy in town, R. was accorded a far from friendly reception.


The great Leningrad drew him out onto her streets, to her elegant facades and classical architecture. R. wanted to visit every museum, see every performance, go to every concert. But, most of all, he wanted to mingle with the crowd and lose himself in this fantastic town to which he had so long dreamed of coming.


There used to be a little music shop not far from the Ballet School, beside the Kazan Cathedral. It isn't there any more, but in those days it was a quaint little establishment with a large selection of records and piano music. You could play phonographs on the store's record-player and the shop assistant, on request, would play whatever you asked for on the piano. A friend of my mother's E. Pazhi, worked there. (Lilen'ka was our pet name for her.)  She was a merry little women from a St. Petersburg family, a wonderfully kind and cultured individual, she couldn't help but notice the shabbily-dressed teenage boy who dropped into her shop almost every day. More often that not, he'd asked her to  play something for him on the piano. Then, he'd hang around until the shop closed and the two of them would leave together. R. would accompany her to the bus or tram stop, carrying her bag.


Lilen'ka and her husband had no children. Perhaps not surprisingly, R. became the object for all their unrequited parental love. But R. was independent and proud. I think he must've been born with that streak of independence and the air of imperial aloofness that he had — which meant that he'd condescend to be helped only if he felt he wasn't being denigrated. He never permitted anyone to feel sorry for him. The desire to help him, yes, that was perfectly all right, foe he felt he deserved to be helped. You see, R. from birth believed that he had been touched the hand of God.


Lilen'ka decided to help him out with 2 things. First, to find a music teacher willing to teach him free of charge. And, second, to find some people Rudik's own age so he'd feel less lonely. To accomplish this, she turned to 2 of her closest friends: M. Savva (a leading pianist at the Maly Opera Theatre) and my mother L. Romankova (matriarch of our household and mother of 3). Marina Petrovna, who taught both at the theatre and also and the music school, immediately agreed to give R. piano lessons. Her quiet beauty and entrancing smile belied her iron discipline. She always  got that she wanted out of you, thanks to her  gentle and mild persistence.    


Not that there was ever any need for persistence when it came to R.. He practiced feverishly and was extremely music-gifted. Having had a little piano training in Ufa, R. was playing Rachmaninov's ''Elegy'' within 4 weeks. Her husband was not only   a professional  violinist at the Maly but also a very amiable and kindhearted man. I'm sure R. very much enjoyed his visit to the Savvas — who, like Lilen'ka, had no children and so treated all their young pupils as their own.                  


Alas, so few of there people are alive now. But, at that time, they were all young and full of life, meeting up with each other to share their common interests and common adoration of ''our dear boy''. They jealously followed his every  success, attending all his performance, not only those at the end of his studies but also the ones at the Kirov.


I had actually seen R. before Lilen'ka told us about him. Being a great fan of ballet, I not only went to all the Kirov's performance, but also to those at the Ballet School. The latter took place several times a  year. A particular favorite of mine was the evening of their 1958 graduation examinations, held on the Kirov stage. The tickets cost peanuts. (During these days, theatres received state subsidies, so anyone who wanted to go could afford the pleasure.)    


The Ballet School's evenings always lasted way into the night. Every student was given the chance to show off his or her repertoire. The evening would often begin with an act from classical ballet, than the second and third acts would consist of various concert numbers — pas de deuxs, variations, character dances and the like. It was at one of those evenings that I first saw R.. he was still a student at the time — not even in his final year — and he danced the part of Actaeon from ''Esmeralda''. If my memory serves me correctly, he was partnered that night be A. Sizova. Both danced brilliantly, Right than and there, I made a mental note to myself that the Ballet School had a new star.        


How I loved to hang out with these talented young dancers and follow their success from year to year. I kept all my programs and still have many of them at home, bearing the names of dancer who than went on to world fame. R. wasn't the only gifted young star at the Ballet School during this period. There was also Y. Soloviev, N. Dolgushin, K. Brudnov and, as I mentioned, A. Sizova.


I    once went with    Lilen'ka Pazhi to one of those Ballet School performances. During the intermission, a rather short, elegant young man — his hair still wet from showering — come up to her. Lilen'ka introduced me to him. It was R..


Lilen'ka asked if I could invite him over to my house for one of our Sunday dinners. I can't quite remember who was present the first day R. came over. It might have been only our family: my elder sister Marina ( who was just finishing Medical School), my twin brother Leonid (who, like me, was in his third year at the Polytechnic Institute), and ff course my mother, father and grandfather.


We ''kid''  were at that age than you feverishly drink in everything the world has to offer. We studied day and night, but played sports and went to every exhibition, concert, show and museum. It was the period of the much-hailed Khrushchev ''thaw'', an intoxicating and thrilling time in Russia. Our whole lives were ahead of us and the possibilities seemed endless.


But back to that Sunday dinner. As I remember it, we sat down to eat around three o'clock in the afternoon, only getting up from the table around 7. My brother and I than invited R. to stay on and talk for a bit. The 2 of us liked R. from the moment we first set eyes on him, for his was completely unlike anyone we ever knew.    


Even in those days there was a special aura about R.. He was very independent, but at the same time modest about himself.  Having taken ballet lessons for 8 years myself, it was especially interesting for me to hear him tell us all about the Ballet School and the lessons, classes and teachers. We talked and talked, long into the night.


That first meeting, which marked the beginning of our long —  and sometimes complicated — friendship, is engraved in my memory forever, R. described  it in his autobiography published in the West (in 1962), in which, out of consideration for our personal safety, he lists our surname Davidenko in order to confuse the KGB. (My grandfather's surname was Davidenkov.)  R. no doubt realized that our friendship  wouldn't  exactly endear us to the men of the ''First Section''. His autobiography was smuggled to me from the West and I must confess that I enjoyed reading Rudik's reaction to first day together:


       Suddenly I felt happy really happy.

       ''I had spent the evening with my friends the Davidenkos who had invited me to their

       apartment  for  the  first time…   Nowhere else, up to now,  had I ever  found such a   

       tranquil, cultivated atmosphere. My friend and  her twin brother were  both brilliant

       students and  both very  good-looking: she, very gay, with sparkling black eyes was

       a student in elect-ronies…


       We had talked  about everything  and they  showed a  genune  interest in, and a wide   

       knowledge of, subjects outside their own sphere.


       My life, often so meaningless to me, suddenly seemed clearly directed and orientated.

       For once, I felt no trace of anxiety.''


The next day R. left for Moscow to take part in a ballet competition,  there he wan his first major accolade.


When we met 28 years later, we reminisced about that evening. R. told me how he'd envied us for having been born into such a cultured family, surrounded by books and the opportunity to acquire so much knowledge. To be honest, I never suspected him of harboring such feelings. Everything that surrounded me was what had always surrounded me, like the air that I breathed. I never felt that I possessed any advantage over other. In fact, more often than not, due to my youthful self-centeredness, I spurned the family experience. R. didn't share our    interest in polities, although he did follow closely the discussions which always tend to blaze up whenever 2 Russians get together. Not for anything would he allow himself  to be drawn into a political debate. Nor would he discuss any topic associated with the running of our government during an interview with a reporter. I don't think it was of fear of harming his career in those Leningrad days, or fear for his Russian friends and relatives when  he was living abroad. He simply wasn't interest in  politics. He was a true citizen even if it wasn't so apparent to me at the time. All I knew was that R. wasn't particularly interested in the real world. The only world he inhabited was that of the performing arts. He was ready to dance wherever there was a stage and an audience. Needless to say, he had a special relationship with the Kirov stage.


About this time a slender, dark-haired beauty from Havana called Menia Martinez showed up in Leningrad and made Rudik's acquaintance. He fell in love with her. We always invited both of them over to Sunday dinner, which was fast becoming a  ritual get-together. Sometimes we would be joined by his ballet tutor A. Pushkin and his wife (both of whom we very much enjoyed), along with the usuals: Lilen'ka, Venechka and the Savvas. But, most of the time, R., just came over on his own. He liked being with us, since we were outside the world of ballet set. With the exception of Pushkin and Xenia Josifovna, none of our group knew any of his ballet set.  R. could discuss his problems with us and tell as what was going on at the School or at the theatre without having to worry that we'd then pass what we'd heard on to someone else. (An atmosphere of bitter rivalry tends to run for some reason through the theatrical world and an unguarded or misconstrued word can all but wreck a career — which means that candid talk amongst performer is a very rare thing.) In addition, R. failed to make any friends at the School. He just never hit it off with any of the other students and pointedly shut himself off from all of them. He even place his bed behind a cupboard, away from everyone else. He would head home from us at night with the words, ''I'm off to my cupboard.'' R. was the best of friend with me and my brother. To him, we were simply ''Liubakha'' and ''Lyokha''.


And even though we were very close friends, he treated my brother with the greatest respect — which he observed right up until the day he died. I once had a very unusual conversation with our mutual acquaintance, Slava Santnaneyev (who had married a Finn and left the Soviet Union). He told me about a trip to Paris to see his friend M. Baryshnikov on one of hi opening night. Slava ran   into R., whom he hadn't seen for over fifteen years, in Mikhail's hotel room. R. didn't seen at all surprised to see him there — despite the fact it wasn't easy at the time to get out of the Soviet Union — and reacted as of he had seen Slava only the other day. ''Oh, it's you? Have you just come from Leningrad? Tell me, how are Liubakha and Lyokha doing?''  And without waiting for a reply, R. added, ''That was probably my first love, only a didn't realize it at the time.'' When I next saw Slava and he told me this story, I immediately protested: ''Oh, come on, R. and I never shared any intimate feelings. We were just good friends. It's only nowadays that everyone wants to turn things into a love story.'' ''Are you stupid or something?'' Slava laughed. ''He meant Lyokha, not you!!!'' I guess maybe Slava was right. If you read Rudik's autobiography, Lyokha is described in it as being ''very tall, very manly, with a most delicate, refined mind and a generous heart'' In any case, what I do know is that R. had a special relationship with Lyokha all his life.


When my husband and I were preparing to set off to see R. in Italy in  August of 1992, he phoned me to try to hurry us up. When I told him that Lyokha probably wouldn't be able to make it, he cried out bitterly ''Ya uzhasno disappointed.'' (I'm terribly disappointed.'') That's the way R. said it: half in English and half in Russian, attempting to hide his frustration.          


R. and I knew that it would probably be the last time we ever saw each other again. He was going to his island to die and wanted to do so surrounded by his friends. I, too, was very upset that my brother couldn't come. And although my husband and I did everything in our power to keep R. comfortable, amused and happy.  I still think he was secretly disappointed in my brother, and possibly even angry at him. (I'm eternally indebted to my husband for treating R. like he was his own brother, not for a minute jealous off my attachment to him.)


When we knew him back in Leningrad, R. never went with us to exhibitions, preferring instead to wander around the galleries on his own. Perhaps, he feared being drawn into a discussion about art and having his ignorance of the subject revealed. Our conversation touched on this when we were driving back from Domodedovo Airport with R. 28  years later. R. had flown in from Ufa after his long-awaited, but bittersweet, reunion with his mother.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


He squeezed himself into the taxi between me and my brother. During the drive, we intentionally avoided mentioning his mother since we knew the subject was too painful for him. R. told us that he wouldn't be able to talk about her until he got back to Moscow and had  a stiff drink inside him. That done, he lapsed into childhood memories — of which he had many after visiting his old haunts in Ufa. He talked an talked and I remember being amazed at all the emotion he'd kept hidden from us all these years. He told us how he'd been afraid to open his mouth for fear of exhibiting his provinciality and how he had desperately tried to make up for his lack of a proper education. He said that he felt this way particularly so whenever he was putting on a new production in the West:


''I would read up on absolutely everything connected with the production — its theme, its author, its era. For instance, when I was staging 'Manfred', I read and reread everything I could lay my hands an about Byron and all his works. But I'll never have anything more than individual snippets of information. I'll never have a complete education''. Then he added, ''You know why I never write to anyone? It's because I don't know how a lot of English words are spelled. I've learned every language I know by ear.''


 Many people who khew R. said that he was ''nauseating'' because he was prone to sharp outbursts. Bur more often than not, this was nothing more than just a defense reaction. Or, else it came about when he felt someone had encroached  on his territory or disturbed him when he was dancing.  He similarly couldn't stand it when someone he was working with didn't devote the same attention to dancing that he did. Nevertheless, he wouldn't encroach on someone else's territory.  So, you can't really call that having a nauseating character. It's rather more like being obsessed with something, with the result that everything else gets bulldozed out of the way.


In those years with R., my friends and I were all devoted Anglophiles, mad about jazz and English literature. Jazz was one interest that R. and I never had in common, for he was too immersed in classical music. His world of the arts was that of the 18, not the 20 century. (However, he did respect your right to your own opinion.) one contemporary  thing which he was instantly infected by was our enthusiasm for learning English with our tutor. R. had such a thirst for knowledge. (French had always been taught at the Ballet School, but I doubt that any of the students knew anything beyond the names of the various ballet steps.) and R. didn't stop at just knowing a language. He was determined to actively use it, too. According to Clara Saint, who got to know him on that infamous Paris tour, he was  the only dancer at the Kirov able to speak English — thanks to the tutor and Rudik's own initiative.


It was this knowledge which prevented him from getting lost when he first arrived in London. He had flown there in secret to prepare for the annual gala concert on aid of M. Fonteyn's Royal Dance Academy (an appearance which was to launch him on a triumphant march across the stages of every major theatre on the face of the Earth). Margot had sent a car to pick him up at the airport, but his plane landed early and there was no one there to meet him when he arrived. Undaunted, he managed to find his way to Margot's on his own, using the English that he knew. I remember how pleased G. Mikhailovich was when I showed him a clipping from an English newspaper which had been smuggled to me from the West, testifying that: ''His English is good.''


Rudik's life was regulated by the strict discipline imposed by the Ballet School's hostel. They'd lock the doors at eleven and, if you missed the evening bell, they sometimes didn't let you in. Rudik's pride couldn't live with that. Although his self-discipline was almost superhuman —

he never missed a single class and he put everything he had into his lessons and rehearsals —, the one thing he couldn't take was outside pressure, especially when it clashed with one of his own ideas.


M. Savva once told me how, when she and R. were on holidays together in the Crimea, he had rebelled against an attempt by the people at the canteen to force him to dress ''like everyone else''. R., it seems, had shown up there straight from the beach, clad only in a pair of swimming trunks and a red shirt, carelessly knotted at the front. The manager of the canteen refused to let him in, claiming that Rudik's attire was unsuitable for a dining room. When the man asked him to put on a pair of trousers, R. exploded with rage and stormed out of the place, going without lunch. And he never went back there again. R. could imagine humiliation in almost any situation; he couldn't handle degradation and he never forgave on insult.


So our little group had to walk very lightly when it came to R.. we would immediately rush and try to pour oil on troubled waters whenever things began acting up. But we never really had one single group. Rather, there were actually several, with people going from the one to the other. One group had a definite intellectual inclination while another would be sports-oriented. In the former group, intellect, originality and creativity were respected; in the latter, dexterity, sporting triumph and physical strength dominated. It was obviously mush easier for R. with the sports-oriented crowd, even if the guys there did sometimes make fun of him — claiming that if they ever personally chose to dance on the stage, R. would cease to exist. Next to these guys, R. really did seem small and fragile, for they were all strong, sturdy types. They want in for handball, volleyball and hockey and were all good jumpers. Nevertheless they were amazed that R. could lift up a ballerina so effortlessly. However, they rationalized that it was only because the ballerinas themselves did most of the work and all R. had to do was catch them. One day, they demanded that R. demonstrate his technique by lifting me up above his head on outstretched arms. This he did, and they followed suit. Naturally, they had no difficulties either, proceeding to take turns in lifting me. When it was all over, R. had won their respect. (Anyone who can do something outstanding in sports is always respected.) Thankfully, R. sensed their admiration and forgave them for teasing him.


On weekends, we would all travel out of town to Gorskaya where a friend of mine from the institute — my volleyball teammate, Nata Lavrova — had a dacha right on the Gulf of Finland. Spring days there were made for playing rugby on the shore, our feet sinking into the    freshly-melted snow. Although R. often came along, he would never join  us in playing in the snow, fearing that he might injure his legs. He paid great attention to his joints and would often give his muscles furious massage. So, while we played, he would sit and watch, reveling in the sight of us reckless young mad caps on the beach. 


R.  was distinguishable in that he was both with us and yet at the same time not with us, a participant and at the same time an observer. There were moments when I felt that he was quietly studying us all a bit. He would sometimes walk down the shore, away from all the other players, to gaze transfixed at the water and the sun. I don't know why, but one summer day remains imprinted on my memory like a photograph. We had all returned to Nata's dacha, only to discover that R. had disappeared. I was worried and ran back to the shore to see if he was perhaps still lingering there. Although R. wasn't ''my guy'', I felt a certain responsibility for him and always made sure that everything was going O. K. with him and that he wasn't being left out of the general conversation. When I arrived at the shore, I found him there staring out over the horizon. ''R, what are you doing? Everyone's looking for you!'' ''Ssh!'' he whispered. ''Look how beautiful it all is.'' The enormous, dark red ball of a sun was slowly going down behind the gulf, its dying rays forming a crimson path on the water. It really was a fantastically beautiful scene. R. and I stood      there in silence, admiring the other-wordly beauty of it all. Eventually, al that remained of  the sun was a blood-red segment, then the sky began to darken over. We turned away and, without saying a word, plodded back to the dacha.



But, there were just isolated moments. More often that not, R. would join in the general merry-making, laughing and clowning with us, and generally rejoicing in life. He had an especially enchanting smile, which was very becoming to him. And, even if he was a men of few words, his  thoughts were always deep and to the point.


During the latte 1950's rock-n-roll was just becoming popular in Russia and we spelt many  joyful hours coming to grips with its almost acrobatic movements. I remember how we once held a sort of contest in Nata's dacha. The winner was supposed to be the couple whose partner managed to leave her footprints on the ceiling. And, believe me, it was no easy for R. to lift these hefty, young girls, all of whom were ''formidable'' sportswomen — so unlike the slim young things on stage that he so effortlessly tossed  into the air. There was just no way R. could stand on the sidelines, so he too dashed headlong into our rock-n-roll phantasmagoria. All in all, there were no losers in this contest and not one part of that ceiling escaped unmarked!


Everyone of our group was always terribly busy and so we treasured our Sundays together. Once, when we had our hearts and soul set on a lazy Sunday, R. discovered that he was scheduled to dance ''Gayane'' that morning. It was really unfortunate, for the weather had       turned out wonderful and the prospect of spending a sunny Sunday morning in a darkened theatre watching a ballet — which we had seen many times before — did not sees terribly attractive. It was then that blue-eyed Lyalik Yanovsky, whose cherubic face looked like something out of a soup commercial, coined what was to become our catchphrase: ''Hang up your tights, R! You're far better off playing rugby at Gorskaya''. Everyone collapsed into fits of laughter on       hearing those words and, surprisingly enough. R. didn't  take offense with it and joined in. This phrase stuck with R.. Whenever he'd coma to us tired and upset, complaining  about same problem he was having, all you had to do say was: ''Hang up your tights, R.'' in order to cheer him up.


Of course, we all ended up going to his performance that day and sunshine could only beckon us after R had appeared on stage. And when he did, you couldn't take your eyes off him. He well-proportioned figure, decked in a sleek black costume,     moved about the stage with an al most oriental  gracefulness, combining sharpness movement with an animal-like softness. Perhaps this was just the fruit of my childhood  fantasies, weaned on illustrations in ''Aladdin And The Magic Lamp''. Or, may by it was the result of my  misconstrued ideas about the orient, due to what I'd seen in the theatre. Whatever the reason, R. was in my eyes a man of the East, his bubbling emotion hidden deep down underneath a facade of restraint, ready to burst forth at the moment  of ultimate incandescence.


R. never played a role on stage. He lie of the hero himself, infecting everyone with his passion and unassuming authenticity. His performance had the entire theatre spellbound, the audience following his every movement with bated breath.


But, all that came much later. I remember the evening of finals (when R. finished Ballet School) at if it was yesterday. He and his partner had chosen a pas de deux from ''Le Corsaire'' which I think highlighted as no other piece could. And, you couldn't have a chosen a better partner for him: that night, he danced with Alla Sizova. The 2 of them complemented each other beautifully. She was pale,   graceful and composed. He was bronzed, muscular and passionate. When the pas de deux began, R. was very tense. But, I think that his nerves soon passed with the first few notes, as he soared into the choreography, performing a hovering leap and inimitable grande jeté (which were due, no doubt, to Pushkin). By contrast, my own nerves grew and grew and my heart began pounding loudly out of fear R. would burn out or ''choke up'' after some difficult step.


My fears were unfounded. ''Le Corsaire'' was a roaring success. Rudik's passion for dancing, his gift for transforming himself into whatever role he was dancing, his light impetuous leaps and his ability t appear to hang in the air — which he later used to conquer the world — gave him what he'd always dreamed of: he was invited to join the Kirov Ballet. And, not just as a member of the corps de ballet — at most student normally do after finishing Ballet School — but as a soloist. An honor previously accorded only to Fokine and Nijinsky.


 Finishing Ballet School immediately brought R. a host of new problems. The most pressing one was where he would live. It was the Kirov's job to find him accommodation and they did just that, giving and Sizova a two-room flat together in the Petrograd Quarter, on Ordinarnaya Street. In principle, this wasn't bad at all, especially when you consider the Soviet standards of the time. (There were 1000s of people who had lived all their lives in Leningrad, dreaming of someday having nothing more that a singly room to themselves but having to settle for the enormous, old flats of St. Petersburg which had been converted into overcrowded communals.) and, even if you were lucky enough to rent an apartment    for just your family alone, there would usually be far more members of your family than there were room in the flat. A room in a  two bedroom apartment in one of the most prestigious parts of the town, on a quiet street, was beyond most Leningraders's wildest dreams. Of course, living in the same flat as your dancing partner brought ins own problems. Also, it's probably fair to say that the Kirov hoped that the two roommates would eventually tie the knot and the bridle of family life would tame the unruly young star. Who knows, it's only my theory. But, I wouldn't have been surprised if it were true.


A room of your own meant a great deal. For most people, that is. But not for R.. One problem was that the apartment was situated a good distance from the theatre. (It's true that the Number 49 bus — which went directly to the ''Mariinka'' — stopped just ten min. walk from the flat, but the bus trip itself took at least 40 min.). another difficulty with Rudik's living in this apartment was that in would than be all up to him to organize his daily life. He would have to do his own washing, cleaning, cooking and shopping — chores that he'd been free of when he was living at the hostel. Remember, all of this took place before the days of labor-saving devices. There was no supermarkets at that time where one trip could suffice for an entire week's supply of food. And, R. was on a modest budget. Also, there was the additional burden of having a working day that began in the classroom at 9 o'clock in the morning and ended at 12 at night. There seemed  to be no end to Rudik's problems.


R. never moved into this flat. His elder sister Rosa arrived in Leningrad and took over the place. Just at the time when he hurt his leg and ended up in the hospital. From there, Alexander Ivanovich and Xenia took R. home with them. they only had one room in a communal flat, which they split in 2. However, the flat did have the undeniably advantage of being in the same building as the Ballet School. And, what about all of Rudik's plans for having hi own place and leading his own life? Ether, this was something that he'd never really wanted, or else Rosa's arrival prevent them from taking hold. Whatever the reason, from that day on R. got into the habit of simply attaching himself to someone else's life, living with them for as long as he wanted. He stayed with either Lee Radzivill or the Goslings in London, with Douce Francois in Paris and with the Wyeths in Wilmington, Delaware.


R. spent the 3 years from the time he left Ballet School, right up to his sudden defection, living with the Pushkin. There his leg a life of ease: he was fed, washed, loved and cared for. Xenia took all of Rudik's domestic problems onto her own shoulders.


He occupied a special place not just on her home — where he was now permanently ensconced — but also in her heart.   Xenia loved him with the despotic love of a mother, and it's possible this love was even more  than that of a mother's Xenia's love did suffocate R.. she wouldn't take her eagle eyes off him for a second. On top of it, she ran her household according to a strict timetable. There was a time for everything, whether in was eating, sleeping, drinking, studying in the classroom or dancing at the theatre. In fact, X. would even try to prevent  R. from going out of the flat on his own. All the same, R. obediently followed Xenia's strict regime, trying to avoid any type of domestic dispute. Although he would, from time to time, attempt to slip out of the flat in order to be on his own.


I can't really tell how much X. was capable of giving R. intellectually. She and I weren't exactly close friends, our age difference being too great and our interests too different. Nevertheless, relations between us were cordial. She trusted me with R., clearly realizing that I  wasn't planning to lay claims on him. She would even allow him out on his own to see me and my brother. (Sometimes, Lyokha and I ended up being Rudik's ''cover'' so that he could have a little more freedom.)


After R. defected, X. and I become closer — as partners in woe, so to speak. However, we were never confidantes with each other. Our conversations never touched on the reasons for or consequences of Rudik's tragic decision to leave Russia. We each had our own bitter sense of loss. So we simply set about gleaning and sharing whatever crumbs of information about R. we could find. I would go over to her flat whenever R. was due to phone, so that I could have a few words with him. All in all, I can't say that I knew X. well, although I think her role in Rudik's development and formation of his habits and views on art was considerable. His ruthless suppression of all other interests to the matter in hand and his strict routine which totally centered around the theatre — this was the hand of X.. She also instilled in him the philosophy that the great artist should only dance great roles. If you have to dance someone else's creation, it must be that of a famous choreographer. And, if you're staging something yourself, it should be Shakespeare or Byron, Homer or Aeschylus. Also, Rudik's manner of becoming part of someone else's life, feeling completely at home there and letting them take care of you — all of that, I think, sprung from X..


And so, R. finished Ballet School and went out into the big wide world. Meeting up with R. or attending his performances was always a welcome distraction since my brother and I remained students, with our never-ending cycle of classes and homework and other demands. R. was all the while adding more and more new roles to his repertoire. In the space of the 3 years that he attended the Kirov, he danced and re-danced almost all the leading male parts: Armen in ''Gayane'', Frondoso in ''Laurentia'', Siegfried in ''S. L.'', Albrecht in ''Gis'', Solor in ''La Bay'', Basil in ''Don Quixote'' and the Prince in ''The Nutcracker''. No doubt a lot when compared with other performers. Until R. came along, it was unusual for a ballet dancer to learn more that one or two parts each season. Although R. broke all the records, he still felt hi could do much more. I remember once running into him on the street:


''R. how are things?'' He seemed really down in the dumps, ''Is something the matter?''


''They won't give me anything to dance.'' Came the reply.


This, in a month when he'd already danced two hew parts and was in the process of rehearsing another!


Rudik's arrival at the Kirov Theatre affected the whole company. His passion for dancing, his desire to be the best and the fervor with which he set about every task couldn't help but stir up feelings of jealousy. A highly-charged atmosphere and the expectation that a momentous event was in store were always present  with his performance. Needless to say, his self-confident air of independence and constant searching for his very own manner of expression particularly irritated the other male dancers. (Perhaps it was inevitable when you have youth combined with talent.) In 1988, when I met R. in Paris, he was bemoaning the fact that a certain young dancer didn't appreciate his attention and asked rhetorically if he himself had really been so fearless and self-assured at that age. I remember thinking to myself, Yes, you were.


This brings to mind an incident in which Bregvadze, the Kirov's leading dancer at the time,  sought out R. when he was rehearsing ''Gayane'' and offered to run through the mise an scene with him. R. haughtily turned the offer down, stating that he know very well himself what the choreography required. That was enough to rupture relations between R. and Bregvadze forever.


On the other hand, relations were a lot smoother with the female dancers. Many of them were particularly keen to dance with such an extraordinary partner. However, this desire brought about its own problem. Many talented ballerinas weren't free to choose who they wanted  to dance with, since there were a lot of already pairings. Some of  these ballerinas were happy with their present partner while others  wants to remain with their not-so-talented boyfriends in order to give them a career.


To my scientific mind, R. in those years was a spring under pressure, ins potential energy held in check. When he made it to the West, that pressure was lifted and the spring was released. All that potential energy was converted into kinetic energy and Rudik's genius was free to dazzle the entire world.


Soon after he joined the Kirov, at the beginning of 1958, R. began preparing for his first major ballet: ''Laurentia'', with Dudinskaya. Yes, with Dudinskaya herself, for the Kirov's prima had chosen him to dance with her this magnificent ballet, so rich in all its fiery dances and intricate pirouettes. Even then,  R. was getting a lot of notice. Tha fact that Dudinskaya picked him, a novice, as her partner only  confirms it. R. was not only extremely  grateful, but also  very flattered by her faith in him. I think he always held D-ya in great esteem for what she had done for him.


[ 30 years later the impossible happen when O. Vinogradov invited R. to dance one more time on the Kirov stage. In preparation for the trip, R. asked D. Francois and me to help him to choose presents for all the Leningrad friend that he so desperately wanted to see. Including D-ya. Before we went off shopping, he wittily described to us each person's tastes. He said he wanted to buy D-ya something particularly impressive. Eventually, he decided on a present for her, then afterwards spent hours worry-ing that it might not suit her.]


Thankfully, all want well during Rudik's first ''Laurentia''. D-ya was in fine form and danced with obvious pleasure. Little needs to be said about Rudik's performance. He was totally immersed in dancing and all these steps he'd spent so long rehearsing were an absolute triumph. He danced ''L'' on 2 more occasions, one with D-ya and the other with A. Shelest. After that, he began rehearsals with Kurgapkina for ''Gayane'', which were nit without fireworks. Either R. had grown more confident after dancing with D-ya, or else Ninel proved to be a match for him when it came to ''artistic temperament''.


I have ho with to bore you by describing every single ballet with R. that I saw or relating to you all my own thoughts and emotions. It's better to leave that to the professionals. But I would like to mention 2 ballets which I believe are especially significant, both in R's execution of them and in the events surrounding then.


The first involved the arrival in Leningrad of the Bolshoi Ballet star, M. Semyonova. She brought with her some unsettling rumors that she had some there not only with the intention of watching R's ''Giselle'' but also with the hope of luring him away to join the Bolshoi. Things like this were highly feasible and did in fact actually happen fairly regularly. All you needed was to have one promising young star to turn up outside of Moscow — it didn't matter what field it was: ballet, opera or science — for Moscow's envoys to immediately flock there with all sorts of tempting offers if only the young star would move to the capital.


R. knew all too well that Semyonova was going to be in the audience that night and suspected that she might invite him to join the Bolshoi Company. I can only hazard a guess as to whether he wanted to change companies or not. Throughout the week leading up to this performance, we plagued him with questions trying to find out how he felt about moving to Moscow. But, he'd only smile and refuse to give us a straight answer. Nonetheless, we realize that such an offer would be a tremendous dilemma for him.


R's performance with I. Kolpakova was simply fantastic. ''Giselle'' is a wonderful ballet and it's not hard to understand why it's been danced in every country for more than a 100 years. Either the sincerity of the young lovers's feelings wins over the hearts of the audience, or its popularity is due to the music, the choreography and the scenery — the drama of the first act juxtaposed against the classical purity of the second. Whatever the reason, this ballet is really ageless and one never tires of seeing it. And, on each occasion that one does, the spectator relives the tragedy of its pitiful heroine. Shivers runs down your spine when Giselle appears on stage, her hair cascading down over her shoulders, bearing Albrect's sword in her outstretched hands with the intention of committing suicide.


I'll never forget the moment in the second act when Giselle ''flew'' between two rows of Wills, R. holding Irina  in an arabesque and hardly allowing her feet to touch the ground. It seemed that Giselle was completely weightless and all that remained of her was her suffering soul. At that instance, Albrecht's  impotent anguish was totally manifested through R's dancing as dawn breaks and the Wills return to their graves. R. danced as if he was in a trance,  as if he had no conscious    control over his movements,  lifting his hands weakly and then letting them drop. His leaps began to lose their height and, for one awful moment, I thought he'd either lost his mind or that he was having a heart attack. Life was flowing out of his body right in front of my eyes.


Worried, I rushed backstage after the show to find out what was wrong, to express my appreciation of his performance and, of course, to ask if the dreaded offer to join the  Bolshoi had been made. Thankfully, R. was perfectly all right. His heart was in one piece, and so were his brains. As far as Semyonova's offer was concerned, all he could remember was that she had come to him during the interval, but he couldn't recall a single word of their conversation. Once again, I  was astounded by R's ability to so immerse himself in the role he was dancing that he forgot all about his own mortal concerns. But, as I later found out, this wasn't quite the case. 30 years later, during post-communist times, I reminded R. of that particular  ''Giselle'' and of my fears of losing him to Moscow. R. also remembered the episode well and when I once again marvelled at his capacity for falling so completely  into a role that he forgot the contents of such a vital conversation, he laughed and told me that he had made that part up. There hadn't been any offer at from Semyonova to move to Moscow, only his pride had prevented him from admitting it at the time.


The other ballet, in which events during and after are still fresh in my memory, is ''Don Quixote''. This ballet is a real  showstopper for a talented dancer, for in this work both one's artistic mastery and dancing technique have ample opportunity to shine. The part appears to constantly gather momentum as the ballet progresses. From the inactive first scenes, when Don Quixote dreams of the beautiful Dulcinea in his half-lit library, the ballet seems  to pick up strength during the colorful street dancing and again in the tavern scene, not to mention the inflammatory gypsy dances that take place at the camp where Basil and Kitri have taken refuge. Finally, the full glory of classical ballet is unveiled in the final act's pas de deux and coda. The night I remember so well R. was partnered by Kurgapkina. Their debut fell on an evening in spring, when the whole of our northern city is gripped by a premonition of approaching warm weather and the White Nights Arts Festival (so eagerly awaited after the dark winter months).


That spring in 1960, an American touring company had come to Leningrad with ''My Fair Lady''. And, as chance would have it, I made the acquaintance of L. Fisher who was playing Eliza. A student friend of mine had been asked by foreign friends to show her the sights. He dreaded the prospect of being left on his own with an actress, so he dragged me along with him to keep up the conversation and organize our itinerary. I kept drilling R's upcoming ''Don Quixote'' into Lola's ears and she ended up bringing the whole touring company to his performance. Not that they wouldn't have gone anyway, for you can hardly come to Leningrad and not go  to the ballet.


The first act disappointed them. The Americans were bored stiff at the sight of Don Quixote flinging himself about a half-lit stage. During the interval, Lola did her best to avoid their eyes, afraid that they'd blame her for getting them into this. The Moscow correspondent for The New York Times, Mr. Shapiro (who had come to Leningrad to ''report on the success''  an American company was having with the Soviet public) turned to Lola and said: ''What a dull ballet! I'm going back to the hotel.'' She was terribly upset. But we Russians remained calm, knowing that after these ''literary'' scenes, the ballet would pick up and R. would show'em! We even secretly somewhat despised the ignorant Americans for being unfamiliar with one of Petepa's most outstanding ballets  (still running ever since it was first staged in 1898). We made no attempt to hint at what was coming up, preferring to let the Americans find out for themselves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


Meanwhile, there was an almost imperceptible movement down in the stalls, but one that was well-known to the experienced eye. The more fanatical balletomanes were quietly carrying flowers down to the orchestra pit getting ready to throw them to their heroes on stage. The elderly usherettes were supposed to ban all bouquest from the theatre, but  some of these women were too soft-hearted or either balletomanes themselves, so they'd often turn a blind eye to violations of the ''flower ban''.


That spring, the Field of Mars (a huge square in the center of town) was a sea of lilacs. But, the ''head-cases'' — those ballet  fanatics who never missed a single performance and who formed rival fan clubs for the various soloists — must have picked every last one of them. after Ninel and R's glittering pas de deux, when they'd literally danced their hearts out, the theatre simply exploded with delight as a cascade of flowers rained down onto the stage. It was really a fantastic spectacle. The curtain raised and fell, yet the lilacs continued to pour down from the balcony. As the stage attendants solemnly presented sumptuous bouquets to the performing artists, the whole stage disappeared under a sea of flowers. The Americans went crazy — and who wouldn't at such a fabulous performance! Their former disappointment was quickly forgotten as they jumped to their feet and crazily applauded.


I had arranged with R. that Lola and I would join him after the performance. But, when we arrived at the stage door, we found it mobbed with fans. Lola and I stepped to the side and an exultant R. soon appeared, his arms laden with flowers. Applause and greetings rang out from the crowd as people shoved their programs toward him hoping to get his autograph. He spotted us and fought hid way over, only to be met by our own cries of delight for his performance. Lola began telling him what a wonderful impression he'd made on her. There wasn't any need for translation, for even if R. hadn't known any English, her shining eyes and the expression on her face spoke for themselves. At that point, R. did something which provoked a storm of indignation among his female fans. He presented all the flowers he'd been given to Lola, as if in recognition of own her talent.


I immediately realized how this might offend his female admirers, watching their flowers being given to another woman. I could feel that I was at the epicenter of all this enmity and caught several scornful glances in my direction. I was so shaken at that point that I honestly don't remember how events turned out. Most likely, I desperately searched for a way to apologize for R's lack of diplomacy. And then, either we got into a car and drove off with Lola, or else R. went off with the Pushkins. All I remember is R. received an invitation to dine with the Americans at the Hotel D'Europe. And, when he entered that grand restaurant, the entire touring company — more that a 1000 people —  gave him a standing ovation.


It was the first ovation that the Western world ever gave him.


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.


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