By Julie Kavanagh
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375704727, 848pp.)
Publication Date: November 11, 2008
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Rudolf Nureyev, one of the most iconic dancers of the twentieth century, had it all: beauty, genius, charm, passion, and sex appeal. No other dancer of our time has generated the same excitement, for both men and women, on or off the stage.
In this superb biography, Julie Kavanagh deftly brings us through the professional and personal milestones of Nureyev's life and career: his education at the Kirov school in Leningrad; his controversial defection from the USSR in 1961; his long-time affair with the Danish dancer Erik Bruhn; his legendary partnership with Margot Fonteyn at the Royal Ballet in London. We see his fiery collaborations with almost all the major living choreographers including Ashton, Balanchine, Robbins, Graham, and Taylor. And we see Nureyev as he reinvigorated the Paris Ballet Opera in the early 1980s before his death from AIDS complications in 1993. Nureyev: The Life is the most intimate, revealing, and dramatic picture we have ever had of this dazzling, complex figure.
Julie Kavanagh is the author of Secret Muses: The Life of Frederick Ashton, which won the Dance Perspectives Foundation de la Torre Bueno Prize. She trained in ballet before taking up a career in journalism and has been arts editor of Harpers & Queen, a dance critic for The Spectator, and London editor of both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.
“Julie Kavanagh distills the fabulous spirit of Nureyev, the ballet world's first pop icon.”
“Ferociously concrete, ambitious, profligate, shocking and soaring. . . . Nureyev is easily the best biography of the year.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The definitive biography of ballet's greatest star whose ego was as supersized as his talent.”
“A treasure trove for those intrigued by Nureyev the dancer, filled with thoughtful reflections on his technique, details of his roles, and of his encounters with ballet greats.”
“Kavanagh chronicles [Nureyev] with even-mindedness and original research and a mastery of detail. . . . And that is what we get: not a tell-all, but a tell-everything.”
—The New York Observer