Rudolf Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanagh - review by Richard Sennett

Richard Sennett

Becoming Apollo

Rudolf Nureyev: The Life


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Julie Kavanagh is the ideal biographer for Rudolph Nureyev. She dispels the fog of glamour, showing the dancer and choreographer relentlessly, obsessively working. She explains clearly, but with a restraint bred of distaste, the backstage intrigues which dogged Nureyev's career and particularly his last years at the Paris Opera. She delves into his love life, but only to reveal an unpublicised story which helps us better understand his art. As in her previous biography of Frederick Ashton, she writes about dancing itself so vividly, without technical fuss, that the reader imagines actually seeing it.

With Ashton's life, Kavanagh had almost too much material to hand. Though born abroad, Ashton spent most of his working life in London, where he knew everyone, and each – plus many more – had their stories about ‘Fred’; Kavanagh had to sift, suspect, and eliminate. Nureyev, curiously, for all

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