Real Nureyev: An Intimate Memoir of Ballet's Greatest Hero

Overview

The Real Nureyev is an intensely personal, under-the-skin depiction of ballet's greatest hero. Written by Carolyn Soutar, who worked with Nureyev at the London Coliseum during the 1980s, this biography focuses a six-year period of his life when his career was drawing to a close and this once phenomenal dancer began to call himself "Old Galoshes," in recognition of his fading powers. From his close friends we learn of the changes in Nureyev: from a young man eager to learn, searching for perfection in a body he ...

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Overview

The Real Nureyev is an intensely personal, under-the-skin depiction of ballet's greatest hero. Written by Carolyn Soutar, who worked with Nureyev at the London Coliseum during the 1980s, this biography focuses a six-year period of his life when his career was drawing to a close and this once phenomenal dancer began to call himself "Old Galoshes," in recognition of his fading powers. From his close friends we learn of the changes in Nureyev: from a young man eager to learn, searching for perfection in a body he believed to be flawed, to the knowledgeable and difficult superstar that he would become.

Sometimes funny, sometimes shocking, yet always deeply human, The Real Nureyev is an intimate insider's story of what the ballet icon was really about.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The ghost of Rudolf Nureyev is doggedly pursued by Soutar-who, as stage manager of London's Coliseum in the 1980s, knew and idolized him-but never quite caught in a disjointed, sometimes trite, sometimes charming collection of memories from the author and those who knew the dancer best, like his lover-turned-live-in-friend Robert Tracy and Australian Ballet hands Bill Akers and Roger Myers. To those who didn't bask in his radiance, the ballet star (1938-1993) seems more enraging than engaging, testing people by daring them to give back as good as he gave (he virtually invited Soutar to find him buck naked in his dressing room when he was late getting to the stage on their first night working together). Nureyev's generosity and occasional good humor emerge-his aid to an ailing, indigent Tamara Karsavina; his enjoyment at being ribbed by the stagehands-but also his sometimes violent rages. Soutar digresses often, for instance, into her own career and the life of Princess Margaret, one of the women close to Nureyev. After too many exclamations of how extraordinary he was, ballerina Violette Verdy captures Nureyev's raw power best: "He was primitive, untamed. He did everything instinctively, almost barbarously." (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A gushing, gossipy peek at the legendary dancer's backstage shenanigans in the later years of his career. The author was a stage manager at the London Coliseum in 1980, when the 42-year-old star arrived for the Nureyev Festival, a popular annual event featuring international ballet companies supporting him in such trademark performances as Don Quixote and Giselle. She got her first taste of what was in store for her when she went to his dressing room to find out why he was late getting onstage (as he would be almost every night), opened the door and found Nureyev stark naked. She managed to keep her cool, faced with "the most beautiful body that I have ever seen," and realized later that she had passed the test he set for everyone he worked with: "if you did not stand up to him right from the start, you were lost." Soutar won his respect and managed subsequent Coliseum appearances and several tours until 1985, the year Nureyev was diagnosed with AIDS. Judging by her account, which draws heavily on meetings after the dancer's death in 1993 with his former lover, Robert Tracy, and a few other intimate associates, Soutar didn't know him all that well but certainly loved swapping stories about him. Her descriptions of his dancing offer little beyond an appreciation of his charisma; he was past his prime by 1980, though not yet in the steep decline of his final years. We see more of Nureyev throwing tantrums and cruising gay bars than of his fabled leaps and double cabrioles. Still, Soutar gives a nice sense of backstage life, where tension is relieved by practical jokes and ruthless teasing. Nureyev comes across as difficult, but no snob: Stagehands loved him, and he might unexpectedly turnup at a party for provincial theater patrons after snubbing the local press. No revelatory insights here, but Nureyev fanatics will find lots of good anecdotes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786285730
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Series: Thorndike Biography Ser.
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 351
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Soutar has worked in many sectors of the entertainment industry. She trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and then joined the English National Opera as a stage manager. Carolyn also lectures at various schools in London on staging events. She lives in Suffolk, England.

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