FONTEYN & NUREYEV by Keith Money


The Great Years
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 A pretty and personal tribute to one of the great partnerships in ballet history. Artist Money (Anna Pavlova, 1982) stumbled into dance photography in the early 1960s after seeing the first televised performance of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. For the next several years he accompanied the dancers on tour and, against the constant objections of the two photo-phobes, managed to record them together in rehearsal and onstage. Many of the black-and-white images included here have never been published before, and they afford both a charmingly informal glimpse of the two artists and a record of the emotional power and style that made them sellouts at the box office. Most of the photos are maddeningly uncaptioned, but one picture of Fonteyn doing her tendus in a stone archway in Athens seems innocuous enough until one reads in the accompanying text that a workman had just missed bashing her head in with a beam. In the same series, we see Fonteyn stitching a toe shoe while Nureyev looks on; the young dancer had just announced that he would not dance that night. ``Perhaps we'd better just give the money back?'' Fonteyn replied calmly, stitching away. Unfortunately, we get few such intimate anecdotes and no real understanding of their working relationship. Fonteyn was an aging star, whom the Royal Ballet management was ready to shunt aside, Money tells us. Nureyev was a fiery young dancer, a recent defector from the Soviet Union. He renewed Fonteyn's career, even dared her, according to the author, to surpass herself. The magic of that interaction is missing from Money's text. But it is very present in his photos: Fonteyn's remarkably youthful Aurora exults in the arms of Nureyev, her Prince; as Romeo and Juliet they evince innocent love tragically betrayed. Both Fonteyn and Nureyev outdanced the usual span of a dancer's career; both died too young. Money's photos and sketches remind us of the way they were.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1994
ISBN: 0-00-271375-6
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994