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Ninel Kurgapkina

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Nureyev learned a lot from Kurgapkina.

From Julie Kavanagh's *Nureyev*:

"Almost immediately Rudolph began preparing for his debut with the virtuoso ballerina Ninel Kurgapkina in *Gayane*. Nearly a decade older than he, and renowned for her spitfire temper, Kurgapkina proved more than a match for the brazen young star. First rehearsals took the form of a contest of wills until Rudolf realized he had met a fellow fanatic, and converted his initial combativeness into compliance and respect. Without protest, he repeated at least a dozen times a lift in which, crossing the stage, he carried Kurgapkina balanced on one hand above his head--until he had won her confidence. 'He was a little bit afraid of me, but he liked my attitude to work and life. I was obsessive in rehearsals but a normal person outside.' It was not long before the pair really had fun dancing together. Kurgapkina's 'amazing quality of earthliness and energy' excited him, and he admired her autonomy (during supported pirouettes she turned herself, and if ever he was overattentive, she would snap, 'Don't mess!'). 'He saw real professionalism in Kurgapkina. She gave him a lot of advice, and he listened to her, whereas there was nobody among the men that he took any notice of.'"


There has been a report this morning of the passing of Ninel Kurgapkina at the age of 80 in a car accident near St. Petersburg. Nothing available in the news yet. Anyone with further news - it would be greatly appreciated.
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