Rupert Christiansen

Lady Of The Dance

Margot Fonteyn


Viking 624pp £20 order from our bookshop

NINETTE DE VALOIS once remarked that Rudolf Nureyev had added five years to Margot Fonteyn’s dancing career – a characteristically backhanded compliment, as their partnership actually lasted for over fifteen years. I began watching them in the seventh of those, 1969, and therefore missed the height of Fonteyn’s Indan summer. Older friends tell me that I may have seen the legend and the star, but not the perfect ballerina. ‘Studiously economical’ is how the critic James Monahan described her negotiation of the challenge of Swan Lake in 1973, and look back at images vividly etched into my memory, I daresay he was right.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter