Nureyev: The Life (2020)

Nureyev: The Life Julie Kavanagh Nureyev The Life Rudolf Nureyev 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 With Nureyev The Lif
  • Title: Nureyev: The Life
  • Author: Julie Kavanagh
  • ISBN: 9780375704727
  • Page: 241
  • Format: Paperback
Nureyev: The Life Julie Kavanagh Rudolf Nureyev 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 With Nureyev The Life, Julie Kavanagh shows how his intense drive and passion for dance propelled him from a poor, Tatar peasant background to the most sophisticated circles of London, Paris,Rudolf Nureyev 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 With Nureyev The Life, Julie Kavanagh shows how his intense drive and passion for dance propelled him from a poor, Tatar peasant background to the most sophisticated circles of London, Paris, and New York His dramatic defection to the West in l961 created a Cold War crisis and made him an instant celebrity, but this was just the beginning Nureyev spent the rest of his life breaking barriers reinventing male technique, crashing the gates of modern dance, iconoclastically updating the most hallowed classics, and making dance history by partnering England s prima ballerina assoluta, Margot Fonteyn a woman twice his age He danced for almost all the major choreographers Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, Maurice B jart, Roland Petit his main motive, he claimed, for having left the Kirov But Nureyev also made it his mission to stage Russia s full length masterpieces in the West His highly personal productions of Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Raymonda, Romeo and Juliet, and La Bayad re are the mainstays of the Paris Op ra Ballet repertory to this day An inspirational director and teacher, Nureyev was a Diaghilev like mentor to young prot g s across the globe from Karen Kain and Monica Mason now directors themselves , to Sylvie Guillem, Elisabeth Platel, Laurent Hilaire and Kenneth Greve Sex, as much as dance, was a driving force for Nureyev From his first secret liaison in Russia to his tempestuous relationship with the great Danish dancer Erik Bruhn, we see not only Nureyev s notorious homosexual history unfold, but also learn of his profound effect on women whether a Sixties wild child or Jackie Kennedy and Lee Radziwill or the aging Marlene Dietrich Among the first victims of AIDS, Nureyev was diagnosed HIV positive in 1984 but defied the disease for nearly a decade, dancing, directing the Paris Op ra Ballet, choreographing, and even beginning a new career as a conductor Still making plans for the future, Nureyev finally succumbed and died in January 1993 Drawing on previously undisclosed letters, diaries, home movie footage, interviews with Nureyev s inner circle, and her own dance background, Julie Kavanagh gives the most intimate, revealing, and dramatic picture we have ever had of this dazzling, complex figure.
Nureyev: The Life Julie Kavanagh

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    Julie Kavanagh

One thought on “Nureyev: The Life

  1. Suzanne

    I m a lover of classical ballet, and decided a couple of years ago to read and collect dance biographies Believe it or not, they are not always easy to find They go out of print quickly, so when I had the opportunity to lay my hands on Julie Kavanagh s biography of the great Rudolf Nureyev, I grabbed it.This was a difficult book to get through Kavanagh includes so much information, and comments from so many people that met Nureyev, that it became a chore reading it Some of the sources obviously [...]

  2. Elizabeth

    I ve had several teachers who worked with Nureyev, and the stories I ve heard are not pretty This biography pretty much confirmed that impression for me Although his acts of generosity towards his proteges are carefully documented, in general I found the dancer vile He treats so many people in his life as if they are expendable and all the beautiful dancing in the world doesn t excuse that kind of behavior UPDATE I spoke with one of my teachers who worked with him and he changed his tune, saying [...]

  3. Stephen Brody

    This is quite a long book and naturally some of it is taken up with balletic details which I see bore some readers They may have bored me once Still as an adolescent I had purely by an association a certain amount of passing contact with the remnants of a Russian troupe stranded and forgotten in the most distant extreme of the world in the train of Pavlova herself because of the last War They struck me at an ignorant age as colourful fakes, marvellously and exaggeratedly exotic but by then incap [...]

  4. Zillah Bahar

    I am close to the end of this biography in which Mr Nureyev is dying of AIDS, and I am dying to just be done with it and just switch on a YouTube video of one of his many stunning performances This undisciplined author was obviously overwhelmed by her rich subject matter, preoccupied as she was with Nureyev s social circle, his temperamental behavior, sexual trysts and seven houses So much of this lesser content could have been excluded without missing the idea that Rudolph Nureyev was a complic [...]

  5. Kathleen

    A well written pound of paper, this book chronicles the life of Rudolph Nureyev, the bad boy of ballet His defection to the West left him with the sense that the only way his value could be measured was in securing as much money as possible While reading this, I was often struck by the fact that his early life in the Soviet Union stayed with him so closely, in his attention seeking and having a fits like a toddler if he didn t get what he wanted Though his drive to dance was always paramount, hi [...]

  6. Thombeau

    It s the rare biography that can move me to tears generally, one knows how the story ends Yet Nureyev A Life , by Julie Kavanagh, did just that An in depth study of Rudolf Nureyev, the brilliant dancer with a diva attitude to match, it ends on a note of ineffable sadness Nureyev died of AIDS in 1993, and reading about his final days brought to mind so many others who s light was dimmed too soon.

  7. Beth

    This book is amazing I started reading it out of an objective curiosity about this person I had heard about but knew nothing By the end of the book however I felt as if I knew Nureyev personally.It is a long book, 700 plus pages Often in a book of that length I will do a lot of skimming That did not happen in this book I read each and every page although I did have to pass over the ballet terminology, of which I know nothing, and the frequent use of French, of which I also know nothing It was al [...]

  8. Simon Blair

    Born on a train overlooking Lake Baikal in the Russia, Rudolph Nureyev was a young man on the move who became the warp drive of spaceship ballet He was a pop cultural phenomenon and a dance superstar who burned the stage with intensity and bravura wherever he went Defecting to the West in 1961 at the height of the Cold War his name vanished into whispered obscurity in his homeland while in Europe he attained stratospheric notoriety For nearly two decades he danced with the great British ballerin [...]

  9. Asif

    A fascinating biography of the great Russian ballet dancer Incredibly detailed and researched it is an absorbing read for all fans of Nureyev and ballet as well as those wanting to find out about one of theicons of the 20th century From his humble beginnings in poverty to a Tatar family to his death from AIDS in Paris this is a rollercoaster ride of an incredibly complex and complexed man Nureyev the dancer was obviously a genius but Nureyev the man comes across as self centred, selfish, and mis [...]

  10. Ellen

    This is a book for people who are honestly interested in dance as this is not a layman s biography of Nureyev Filled with technical and ballet specific details, it s great for the serious ballet fan I have just enough ballet knowledge and experience to follow most of the technical stuff, but I can see that being really boring to someone who doesn t know ballet or the stories of famous ballets The author assumes the reader knows the story of ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, etc [...]

  11. Ellen Librarian

    A long, exhaustive book about Nureyev that s full of details yet still left me somewhat in the dark about his essence He s horrible at times throwing temper tantrums and being cruel and supposedly loving at others As a dancer, he was amazing and had a voracious appetite for learning.If you love ballet and want to learn about one of its most fascinating stars, I recommend this book Otherwise, I think a definitive work has yet to be produced.

  12. Elizabeth

    I m on the half of the book but I went through the rest of it before I don t understand why people give an 1 2 star just because this Nureyev doesn t like the portrait he had in mind It is easy for a reader to judge a book by his bias or stereotype The sources are clear and you can track every references, which is wonderful Highly recommend to those who love journalistic gossips I m not even close to a fan of him but I feel the portrait is not really negative and please stop assuming a great art [...]

  13. Debbie

    This wasn t a perfect book but it deserves it s 5 stars I drove me crazy trying to figure out the time frame of the chapters and the events There were large sections and no dates UGH Also, it was tedious trying to keep track of all the people moving in out of Nureyev life So many people But.ey way the author portrays Nureyevfantastic This book is 698 pages not including index and notes and I couldn t put it down I saw Nureyev dance twice It was in the late 70s so he wasn t at his peak it was wit [...]

  14. Surreysmum

    I always have trouble getting through the end of a biography, for obvious reasons, but this one than most because of the sadness and indignity of Nureyev s later years Not that he was, by all accounts, a man one would want to have dinner with, but the very stubbornness, selfishness and fire in his personality which made him such an accomplished dancer or helped to also appear to have made the end of his too short life most unpleasant Possibly those close to him may have thought the early death [...]

  15. Carol

    Fascinating biography The author tells the story of Nureyev warts and all with much affection I could hardly put it down, although it took some days to read all 700 pages I have always loved Ballet I have supported the VSA performances here in Lynchburg etc Went through a period or reading bios of Balanchine ballerinas I actually saw Maria Tallchief dance on stage when I was growing up.In the early 1990 s the director of the VSA, Jan Petrus Bosman, planned a tribute VSA Ballet for Margot Fonteyn [...]

  16. Bookmarks Magazine

    Julie Kavanagh knows the dance world, and it shows The London based journalist and former ballerina previously wrote a prize winning biography of choreographer Frederick Ashton, and she fills Nureyev The Life with piercing insights into both the life of her subject and the turbulent world of professional ballet Critics loved her riveting storytelling, and though the Christian Science Monitor complained that Kavanagh dwells too long on the dancer s experiences in the brutal anonymity of 70s gay c [...]

  17. Jo Oehrlein

    Nureyev lived a big life with a huge cast of characters that often seemed focused on him I guess it s not surprising that he seems so self centered.It s obvious that the huge contrast between his Russian peasant upbringing and the jet setters he associated with Rothschild, Onassis, Kennedy, etc gave him strange ideas about what was normal It s sad that he felt like he had no life except for dance and so kept dancing long past the time he really could.He almost seems manic or schizophrenic in cer [...]

  18. Anna

    Um, wow Not quite sure where to beginis biography is beautifully written and thoroughly researched, though I did find it a little too sensationalist at times That being said, if you are at all interested in Nureyev or in ballet this is well worth your time About the man himselfwhile I was getting a little weary of him towards the end, I am left with two things he was an incredible dancer whose contribution to world of ballet helped shape it, and alsoI felt very sorry for him he was very lonely a [...]

  19. Carly

    As the antidote to all the children s and YA lit I read for work absolute monster of a biography about the most dynamic male ballet icon other than Misha, obvs of the modern age I hope I hope I hope it s as good as I want it to be is now past time to admit defeat Maybe someday I ll pick this up again, but it was just too dense, and he was too arrogant for me to stay interested I ve dealt with too many dance divas in my real life to want to devote my leisure reading to any I didn t make it to his [...]

  20. Amy

    This book was fascinating Nureyev had an exciting life that makes for great reading There are no ballet dancers today that even approach the star power and broad appeal that Nureyev had I m not sure how much attraction this book would have for someone without a fairly serious interest in ballet, but for someone with a passion for the art form, this was a terrific book The author is quite descriptive about the ballets that were created for Nureyev, as well as the ballets he created or restaged hi [...]

  21. Elizabeth

    Okay so I m a ballet freak But nevertheless, this is a well written snapshot of an incredible time in the history of the art form I learned many things about Nureyev that I did not know before which informed me tremendously as to his origins and how they impacted his artistry Unfortunately I only saw him dance during his later years although the exceptional artistry was still apparent despite his technical decline then There definitely was something magical when he stepped on stage If you love a [...]

  22. Barbee

    This book is amazing just for the shear volume of facts it contains about Nureyev and the detailed picture of his life the reader comes away with It was almost voyeuristic If you want to really find out how at least one ultra rich ultra celebrity lives, this is the book for you I think I m fairly opened minded, but I found all the info on his sex life almost TMI I skimmed or skipped some of the sections that analyzed Nureyev s choreography or style of dancing certain ballets, but I appreciate th [...]

  23. Ruth

    It took me almost two years to read this book, but it s really not the book s fault Yes, it s over 700 pages long, but due to the fact that I have a very heavy and high quality copy I never wanted to lug it anywhere or read it while eating breakfast So, I read it in small increments before I went to bed for a very long time But it was well worth it a richly detailed account of Nureyev s fascinating life It would have been nice if there were a little analysis and larger picture discussion beside [...]

  24. Julia Hendon

    A mammoth work, this biography is the definitive recounting of Nureyev s life The author draws on an astounding amount and variety of materials She makes effective use of interviews, unpublished documents, and many other sources While honest about Nureyev s faults, the author also provides a convincing assessment of his talents, achievements, and legacy The latter emerges most clearly in the comments of dancers who, as young members of the Royal Ballet, Paris Opera, or other companies, benefited [...]

  25. Jahan Genet

    The writing is a bit ridiculous, but I suppose one reads a biography for its subject and not the writing I do love Nureyev and after seven hundred pages I feel I know probably too much about him I d also say that approximately two hundred of those pages are basically him slowly dying and, in the end, its a relief just to be finished.Side note reading this book did inspire a fantastic dream in which Rudik and I are lounging on a couch and Jackie O approaches us, hugs me and tells me how cool she [...]

  26. Jim

    Very good book The end was pretty hard to read because it was so sad It took quite a long time to read but it was worth it to read a good book about that world by someone schooled in dance He really had an amazing life coming from NOTHING in Siberia wearing rags on his feet instead of shoes and walking with his mother all day to get a few potatoes and going on to entertain heads of state in every major world capitol and party with the most famous dancers, writers, movie stars, musicians and poli [...]

  27. Glenn

    Great biography of a Russian trying to live in the U.S an immense talent trying to live among ordinary people, a gay man trying to live among other closeted gays Kavanagh s balance of minute detail for the ballet dance expert which I m not, but want to be with candid details of Nureyev s sex life is impressive Only fairly minor complaint wish she d spent a bit time exploring and interviewing Rudolph s lovers those still living for a nuanced view of his romantic existence.

  28. Chiara

    Finally made it to the end Some pages you literally fly through them, others are terribly boring to the point you start wondering if it s the same author I was always fascinated by the man and missed one of his performances just a few miles from where I lived at the time because of too little publicity, you would have thought in the early 80 s people would have known better than not talk about him coming to the area to dance

  29. Pat

    I read this after I saw the documentary on Nureyev s early life so there is a lot that is redundant in the first part of the book though detailed A very narcissistic man, but, as with so many true artists, it seems to come with the territory, No holds barred here There are frank discussions of his relationship with Erik Bruhn when he first came West and the longer term relationship with Margot Fonteyn as well as the end A good book, but a big book.

  30. Kerry

    Yo I can t believe I stuck with this book of nonfiction I can t believe I read it It was compelling An amazing morass of ego and dedication, and intriguing in terms of the wealthy famous fan base Still, I m ready for some fiction But I feel so accomplished But this book has it all angst, drama, teeth gnashing, beauty, evil, faith, fear, hubris, taught stringy whatever I still can t believe I stuck with it But it is epic And, holy cow, it s real, too.

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