Extra Large Diane Solway Nureyev: His Life

ISBN 13: 9780688128739

Nureyev: His Life

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9780688128739: Nureyev: His Life

Everyone knows the name Rudolf Nureyev, but does anyone know the man behind the myth? Diane Solway does; she spent over four years and conducted more than 200 interviews with his family, his friends and lovers, his colleagues, and even his doctors to research Nureyev: His Life the first book to capture him as he was onstage and off -- a great artist whose talent was matched only by his steely will to succeed.

Here is his professional career: his famed partnership with Margot Fonteyn, his personal transformation of the Royal Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet, his impact on dance companies all over the world, his collaborations with Martha Graham and Paul Taylor, and, behind all his accomplishments, the athletic grace and profound understanding that was his gift of genius. Here, too, is the private Nureyev: his Soviet childhood, his inner demons, the men and women who were willing to devote their lives to him. Solway chronicles his flamboyant, extravagant lifestyle, his celebrity-studded circle of friends -- Jacqueline Onassis, Andy Warhol, and Marlene Dietrich, to name only three -- his stormy love affairs, his homosexual promiscuity, and his death from AIDS in 1993.

Nureyev was his own masterpiece, a man always in the process of reinventing himself. Diane Solway's superb biography is as brilliant and as fascinating as the dazzling dancer at center stage.

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Review:

From the moment of his birth aboard a train speeding through Stalinist Russia, until his death of AIDS in 1993, Rudolf Nureyev seemed to travel through life at the velocity of a triple pirouette. His professional accomplishments are stunning. Despite starting his ballet training much later most dancers, Nureyev won a coveted spot at the famous Maryinsky (later the Kirov) ballet school in St. Petersburg and went on to become one of the company's favorite dancers. By the end of his first year in the West--in 1961 he became the first Soviet dancer to defect when he stayed in Paris after the rest of the Kirov returned to the U.S.S.R--he had performed with the major ballet companies in both Europe and the United States, and formed his legendary partnership with British dancer Dame Margot Fonteyn. He reinvigorated contemporary ballet, particularly the importance of male dancers, by energizing his favorite traditional roles with unrestrained sexuality and unparalleled technical virtuosity. His personal life was equally full. He carried on affairs with men and women alike--most notable among these was his intense, decades-long involvement with his professional idol Erik Bruhn and his penchant for sexy young call-boys. He hung out at Studio 54 and crisscrossed the Atlantic with his socialite friends, but he also made time to mentor talented young dancers, including Paris Opera Ballet star Sylvie Guillem.

Biographer Diane Solway, who wrote Dance Against Time, a biography of Joffrey Ballet dancer Edward Sterle, has produced an exhaustively comprehensive report on Nureyev's life. The book's most important accomplishment is that it succeeds in correcting many of the myths that still cloak the story of Nureyev's life--she credibly suggests, for instance, that his defection was not premeditated. The flamboyant dancer, known to wear jeweled jock straps, was responsible for propagating most of the stories that grew up around him. He published a ghostwritten autobiography rife with inaccuracies in the early '60s, and much of the information about his first 20 or so years in the Soviet Union has remained inaccessible until very recently. Solway traveled to Russia to piece together her subject's early life with recently declassified documents and interviews with his friends, family, and even a few detractors. She also drew from another rare book, Rudolf Nureyev: Three Years in the Kirov Theater. The result is a biography that objectively addresses the facts and fictions of an extraordinary life to create a vivid and balanced portrait.

About the Author:

Diane Solway is a journalist who has covered the performing arts for the New York Times, File, and Town & Country. She lives in New York City.

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