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NureyevThe Russian Years


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#1 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 07:15 PM

Well, let me be the first on this forum.

What did you all think of the show?

#2 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 07:36 PM

I was stunned, surprised, amazed, saddened, horrified and deeply touched.
I also wished I had seen him live before I did when he already seemed as if he was exhausted, back in 1984.

I am not as familiar with Classical (Romantic) repertoire as others (especially you, Mel) who participate in these panels, but watching the Bluebird variation, the coda of the solo in Sleeping Beauty and the solo in Swan Lake, (I had no idea that the Prince had fouettees, too!) his energy and beauty floored me. I was cheering and clapping in my living room, scaring my cats. Plus, I, who don't usually like all the "emoting" in Giselle, was just mesmerized watching him with that big bouquet of lillies.

The early films, taken by his friend, "for him to study" were a privilege to see, and very interesting. His drive was just unmatchable.

The spy story part, the behavior of the Soviets, was just horrific. What brutes. What they did also to his friends and family, what they wanted to do to him ("break his legs"), and what they did do when he performed with de Cuevas was unforgivable.

It was also wonderful to hear him speak, to see those close-ups of him -- the first ones where he said nothing, and later in the film where he spoke -- were beautiful and thrilling.

No superlatives left.

#3 carbro

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 08:20 PM

Alexandra, in closing the earlier thread, noted

The footage at the beginning was when he was in the police station, having just been arrested, with Fonteyn, for being at a party in San Francisco at which marijuana was another guest. I've always been amazed that he could have been that calm and cool, when he must have been terrified -- it could have meant deportation.

After LeBourget, which was truly a leap into the unknown, a piece of cake.

Nureyev was well accustomed to putting on faces not his own. He probably understood that playing cool and playful would communicate a confidence in his own innocence. I remember reading, not at the time but not too long after, that he understood the Cold War Era diplomatic and pr value to the US in not deporting him.

What struck me about this excellent portrait was an enduring paradox -- how at once he seems so knowable and so completely not. Another layer of his mystique.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 08:21 PM

This would have given you a much different picture of Nureyev, the pre-1984 version, ViolinConcerto. Thank you for your comments. (And it was good to have a reminder of how much fun the Cold War was (not) )

I was surprised that Alla Sizova wasn't mentioned, and wasn't described as his partner. She was the unshown dancer in the 1958 Corsaire clip -- the full version of that, in black and white, is commercially available, and she's stunning. Her career, one reads, was very negatively affected by Nureyev's defection. But now she's a nonperson?

Are we the only ones who watched? :bow: What did you think?

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 08:55 PM

It occurred to me that '62-'69 must have been the Glory Years for him, because I went into the Air Force and didn't see him again until '75, and already he was slipping back into what I now realize were technical faults that he had early in his career. The unstretched front leg in coupé jetés, muddy footwork in petit allegro, sometimes flailing port de bras were not in his work in the '60s. He improved a lot when he Went West. I had seen the "Laurencia pas de six" when somebody brought it in to the Joffrey studios for us to watch. He had staged it on us, and there was so much fidgety-feet extra stuff in his version that wasn't in the Kirov's that I was faced with some hopping-mad women. Our consensus was that he had thrown all the extras in just to make the women trip onstage. Mr. Joffrey simply decided that although he might work with us again, he would not stage the works in which he would perform. He kept to that intention.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 09:04 PM

The Paris Opera women don't have any trouble with his fast footwork :bow: One can argue that Nureyev used too many steps, but I think it would be hard to prove he did it deliberately to harm dancers.

After the early 1970s he didn't have Volkova, and that may have made a difference. The 1962-69 years (which I didn't see) were when he was working intensely with her. Also, after 1970 he was a guest artist, rather than more regular company member, with the Royal -- there's one interview where he said "they had no more use for me." Guest hopping all over the world without regular classes must have taken their toll, too. He wanted to be a jet-age dancer, but it had its price.

#7 SanderO

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 03:02 AM

I enjoyed the film and how it revealed the complexities that lived within him and how he expressed it as art and passion for life. It's hard to imagine how he found the calm to study and perfect his craft amidst all the swirling forces around him. The dancing footage was fabulous.

It's it amazing how an artist can become a political tool or football? I mean really, what doses dance have to do with communism or capitalism? Great artists are passionate about life.

It showed.

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 03:28 AM

I don't believe that it was a matter of economic practice as in communism/capitalism. But the way that Nureyev and others were batted about speaks to the nature of totalitarianism. It was interesting to hear the name of Culture Minister Ekaterina Furtseva (Mme. Nyet) dropped into the discussion as an example of Khrushchev's "De-Stalinizers". The poor woman was always trying to commit suicide until she got it right.

#9 SanderO

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 05:42 AM

Mel,

Your point is well taken. It's the way authoritarian governments abuse the notion of freedom which is a part of humans (and animals) which is appalling. Seeing how such incredible dancers existed despite of and not because of the Soviet is indeed a lesson that the artist is driven by something inside and their love and passion for art. Rudi seemed to be very in tune with visual beauty and actually cried (so they say) in Notre Dame and I don't think it had a think to do with the Christian god, despite the church being responsible for so much of the art from the dark ages through the enlightenment.

There was no mention of Rudi's religion... unless I missed it. Was he an atheist?

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 06:08 AM

There was no mention of Rudi's religion... unless I missed it. Was he an atheist?


I don't think he practiced it, but he was Muslim. There's a story in his autobiography of how the family living with them when he was a very young child, who was Christian, tried to bribe him with food to say Christian prayers, and he refused.

I think one of the wisest things in the film was something Theismar said (others have said it to, but she said it very well): his religion was dance, and beauty. The reaction in the church, I'm sure, was an aesthetic one.

#11 ngitanjali

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 06:29 AM

My mother forgot to tape it!!!! I reminded her (being without a TV in the dorms is an odd experience) about 50 times and sent an email, and she called me this morning and told me that she forgot. I was wondering if the DVD was worth buying or if the book were worth buying as well.

Would you watch it again if you had the chance? How was the archival footage of Rudi?

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 06:45 AM

ngitanjali, it's being broadcast in some areas, so you might offer your mother a once-in-a-lifetime chance to redeem herself :bow:

I'm not sure it's out on DVD yet -- the Kavanagh biography is available on the PBS site, but not the DVD, and it's not on Amazon either. But when it is, yes, I think the archival footage is worth it. There's film of Nureyev with the De Cuevas company as well as in Russia.

#13 SanderO

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 07:09 AM

Excuse my ignorance as I have never seen Rudi dance. As far as the dancing, his spinning/turning was simply amazing or did they speed up the film? Was this something he was famous for among other things?

#14 richard53dog

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 07:11 AM

Well, let me be the first on this forum.

What did you all think of the show?



I thought the film a little shapeless and drawn out. And the splicing back and forth on some of the dance clips was horrid.
But I thought the footage filmed by Teja(sp?) was mesmerizing, truly a treasure . And although I've picked up a lot on the forces that drove him from other sources the film was good in presenting them.

#15 fandeballet

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 07:57 AM

As someone who loves ballet, due to Rudi, this film just gave me a wonderful gift. Among the clips I saw, the Bayadere snippet was the thing that brought a gasp and tear to my eye. I always wished that I could have seen a film
of RN at least doing the Shade scene. It was my one regret as my ballet watching/loving progressed.
IMO I always imagined Rudolf as a magnificant Solor. So the brief view, showed me what I imagined for years was true! Bravo RN forever. :bow: :bow: :bow:
Mel or anyone. If anyone saw him as Solor in the 60's, could you decribe the experience?


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