Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
ALL RUDI, ALL THE TIME
on 8 November 2007
Kavanagh's "Nureyev" is another first-rate dance biography, fully matching her marvelous account of Frederick Ashton. Nureyev was more a great star than a great dancer, yet his impact on male ballet dancers worldwide was transformative. Before Rudi, they were mostly earthbound dullards, either crudely straight or mincingly effeminate; after Rudi, men in ballet became nearly as turned out, pulled up, and extended as ballerinas, with a protean animalism that enabled them to live gay yet seem to love their women onstage.
Unlike her predecessor Richard Buckle, whose dance bios read like transcribed engagement books, Kavanagh offers a nearly perfect balance of details and distillation, compellingly tracing arcs in her subject's life. She pays extra attention to Rudi's first years in the West, richly detailing his two key relationships--with Margot Fonteyn, whom he ignited just as she was about to retire, and with Eric Bruhn, the one dancer he would learn from and the love of his life--plus the recasting of his dancing into a fusion of Russian and Western. Rudi's restless gay life is all there, yet without prurience. Eventually he settled down, for a time, with Wallace Potts, an all-American gay boy whose goodness and devotion shine through very attractively (other acolytes followed). In these pages, Rudi lives just like a coddled star athlete: no matter how beastly his conduct, somebody always satisfies his needs and keeps his ego fully inflated. A fine biography and a great read.