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The Dancer Who Flew: A Memoir of Rudolf Nureyev Hardcover – September 18, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
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.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-A highly readable, authoritative, though somewhat obsequious look at the legendary "Tatar Tiger." Maybarduk begins by establishing the impetus for her own dance career and her friendship with Nureyev, and goes on to cover the events in his life. The first two chapters are devoted to his harsh childhood in rural Russia, about which he is quoted as saying, "My one lasting memory of early childhood is of throbbing hunger." The author follows his meteoric yet tumultuous rise as a young dance student to his first job as a principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet. Nureyev never danced in the corps de ballet. Instead, he began his career as a star, a role he would play all his life. This interesting "profession memoir" details the dancer's famous "leap to freedom" in 1961, his legendary partnerships with Dame Margot Fonteyn and other ballerinas, and his drive to push himself to the limit. Maybarduk glosses over his legendary temper, somewhat watering down the effects of it on others, and makes excuses for him. She does not address his rumored bisexuality or promiscuous lifestyle, merely referring to "friends" and "companions" and lots of dinner parties. She does state briefly that he died of AIDS-related complications. Overall, this book does a credible job of establishing Nureyev's place in history, his importance to the world of dance, and of presenting a picture of a man who craved knowledge and excellence.
Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day School Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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