PERPETUAL MOTION by Otis Stuart

PERPETUAL MOTION

The Public and Private Lives of Rudolf Nureyev
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 More a celebration of celebrity than a tribute to a great dancer. Stuart, a contributor to the scholarly Ballet Review as well as to Vanity Fair and other publications, is capable of more intelligent writing than he offers in this jumbled biography of Nureyev. When not reminding us what an ``epic'' life Nureyev had, he's emphasizing that everything relating to the dancer was the biggest, the greatest, the most. Nureyev's was indeed a remarkable story, the creation of an indomitable will: Raised in harsh poverty in a remote town in the Urals, a teen-age Nureyev, determined to dance, got himself to Leningrad and into the prestigious Kirov ballet school. Stuart asserts, without naming any sources, that Nureyev's personal and professional unconventionality (and homosexuality) brought him to the attention of the KGB, which set up a sexual trap for him in Paris during the Kirov's 1961 tour. Fearing exile, Nureyev defected to the West. His subsequent career- -his legendary partnership with Margot Fonteyn, his peripatetic dancing life with everyone from the National Ballet of Canada to Martha Graham, his embattled directorship of the Paris OpÇra Ballet--is covered in a sometimes perfunctory fashion, though often brightened by comments from friends (``Rudi was as cute as a baby cheetah,'' says ballerina Nadia Nerina). But emphasizing the titillating, Stuart opens with Nureyev's moribund appearance at a 1992 Paris OpÇra premiere (he would soon die of AIDS) and devotes an entire chapter to Nureyev's apparently insatiable sexuality (we learn not only with whom, but how often and in what position). He regales us with episodes of Nureyev's well-known ire. Nevertheless, a skeletal portrait does emerge: of a man with a voracious hunger for dance and for life; a man who never recovered from the insecurity of his childhood, even after amassing a fortune; a courageous artist who never let AIDS ravage his spirit as it did his body. Stuart says that Nureyev's huge fame was the product of an age of mass publicity; so is this hastily assembled (by the author's own admission) biography.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-87539-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994