The Dancer Who Flew: A Memoir of Rudolf Nureyev

Linda Maybarduk, Author Tundra Books (NY) $21.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-88776-415-8
Maybarduck, a former soloist with the National Ballet of Canada, crafts a compelling memoir of her friend and colleague, the fiery, brilliant dancer Rudolf Nureyev. While acknowledging that the superstar's life was ""not without controversy,"" Maybarduck refrains from the ""tell-all"" approach, choosing rather to examine Nureyev's ""impact as an artist, as a dancer, and as an influential creative genius."" And this she does, with a fluency and skill remarkable for a first-time author. She weaves together biographical facts, personal reminiscences, peeks backstage and a history of ballet in the 20th century to create a portrait not only of a man ""born in motion"" but of an art form radically transformed by his passion and commitment. Entering the dance at a time when men were frequently mere support to ballerinas, Nureyev worked to restore male dancers to leading roles in classical ballet. His much-publicized defection from the Soviet Union in 1961 prompted an outpouring of support from the Western European ballet community, and his acclaimed performances with Margot Fonteyn--as well as his personal style and presentation--were in part responsible for the ballet boom of the 1960s and '70s. Nureyev's unusual roots in folk dance and his willingness to experiment with new forms led to a bridging of the gap between ballet and American modern dance. Set amid a handsome design, more than 70 black-and-white photographs attest to the dancer's charismatic presence as well as his genius. An insightful and highly readable biography, of interest not only to balletomanes but to all young artists. All ages. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
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