Nureyev and me | Stage | The Guardian
In , Fonteyn and Nureyev toured from Sydney to of their physical relationship remains unclear; Nureyev said. Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, the perfect partnership, the greatest dance partners of the history of ballet. They are making a film of the life of Margot Fonteyn, the most celebrated dancer Roland Petit and the insatiably homosexual RudolfNureyev. There was much gossip about the precise nature of their relationship but it was.
Rudolf came at a time when we were afraid that Margot would disappear. It was very, very worrying — the partner means so much. I saw at once that he would add five years to her career. She famously told her mentor: I think it would be like mutton dancing with lamb. Whatever Tito advised, would be done. And that evening, it was he who spelled out the stark choice that lay before Margot: And Madam, for once in her life, turned out to be wrong.
It prolonged it by Now the sun shone for her once more, melting the ice that had blocked her emotional responses.
The Mystery of Margot Fonteyn
It suited the dynamic of little-boy-lost that he instinctively set up with women and, besides, Margot was a baby compared to [Natalia] Dudinskaya, his frequent erstwhile partner at the Kirov, who had been born in He may have despised the political regime from which he had escaped, but he held the Kirov tradition which had fostered him in the highest esteem, imposing its virtues and values upon Western methods wherever he travelled.
The changes that he tried to ring in rehearsal were all very confusing to Margot, who, having been coached by Tamara Karsavina, had every reason to believe that her mime scenes were perfectly authentic.
But, after the first Giselle rehearsal, she admitted to a friend that she had been wrong not to dance with Rudolf at the gala. And it is to her great credit that never once did she stand on her dignity or treat the suggestions of someone half her age as presumptuous. Never had I seen each step practised with such exactitude and thoroughness. That trinity of performances seems, in the retrospective public perception, to have been rolled into one, or to have swollen to encompass all the renderings of Giselle that Fonteyn and Nureyev were ever to give, such was the sense of privilege engendered by having actually been there.
If, at the end of the first performance, when the curtain fell — to pin-dropping silence, followed by pandemonium — de Valois felt vindicated in the unorthodoxy of her professional matchmaking, she was about to witness an even more gratifying moment, one which would launch the partnership she had championed into the realms of legend.
In the context of dancers, flaked out in lonely hotel rooms, such euphemisms seem almost ludicrous: But Rudolf was not a girlfriend, with whom to giggle and discuss men and doze off when Tito, yet again, failed to make that promised call.
Nureyev meets Margot Fonteyn - Rudolf Nureyev Foundation
Yet Margot herself does her best, with clever use of the sad truth, to throw us off the scent and place the accent back where she is determined that it should belong: But I hardly ever saw him go home.
He always walked off into the night, a lonely figure diminishing in perspective down a desolate street. A love affair would have destroyed some part of it sooner or later. I was with them so much I would have seen something, and there was never any sign of anything like that.
And be careful to knock. Although his sexual preference was for men, he is known to have taken female lovers when it suited him the first had been the wife of Alexander Pushkin, his revered teacher at the Kirov.
Tracy, already his companion, danced in some of the ballets staged there. Soutar recalls that one of Nureyev's tricks to fire himself up was going on stage 15 minutes late, with audiences slow hand-clapping. Another was to be naked in his dressing room when Soutar went to call him. Nureyev was then in his early 40s, an age at which most male dancers have long given up.
He had a spur on his ankles, a bony growth veteran dancers get which makes it painful to land after a step. He had chronic back pain from decades of lifting ballerinas. All the star ballerinas were heavy, he complained. In an interview during this period he explained he had given performances that year. How many were good?
Nureyev answered, "I have done three good performances.
The affair of the century
When he met Tracy he was 39 and already preoccupied by a sense of time passing. Tracy, who is now 48, says, "He was always talking about my youth.
He felt his own youth was being taken away from him. At the age of 23 I didn't understand.
I had no idea I was going to go through it myself. He took a degree in Greek and Latin at a New York University, where he was encouraged to train as a dancer. There in he was one of a few students hand picked by Balanchine to perform in Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, a work the Russian-born choreographer created for Nureyev.
Nureyev and Tracy met on the way to rehearsal. Tracy, who knew Nureyev had recently visited Egypt, asked him about the country. Nureyev asked him where to buy batteries for his ghettoblaster.
After the rehearsal and further chat, Nureyev asked him for tea at his New York hotel suite that afternoon. They ended up in bed. Nureyev asked him to phone next day.
Tracy thought he was joking. A day or so later at rehearsal, Nureyev asked why he had not phoned. Tracy looked at him in amazement. They went out together for three evenings, then Tracy moved in with him. Nureyev introduced him proudly to his circle. He had three million young men.
- Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, the perfect partnership
- Fonteyn and Nureyev: So did they or didn't they?
- Margot Fonteyn
He just liked me. It was my intelligence, and he liked my legs, and my jump. We were almost instantly physically attracted. It was a whirlwind. I was 23, wild and open to anything. I just let him call the shots. Fonteyn made no claims for herself as an athlete. When the Bolshoi came to London in she sat spellbound at the gnarled feet of Galina Ulanova, well past her peak at 46, and begged to be taught the true Russian tradition.
When Rudolf Nureyev fell into her lap five years later, her waning appetite to expose her aching joints to further physical punishment was rekindled as much by his phenomenal memory for authentic routines as by his unbridled physical energy and his near-filial dependency on her love and her authority.
What Fonteyn possessed, more than the gift for dance, was a presence that transcends charisma or any of the usual qualities of attraction. She was not a woman of great intelligence. Her conversation was mundane and her interests narrow.
Unlike world leaders she was not driven by raging ambition or a desire to improve society. She was Peggy Hookham by birth, and Peggy Hookham by nature, pleasingly down to earth.
Yet she could enter a crowded room and everyone present knew she was there. Those who worked with her speak of an aura, an impermeable state of being. At Covent Garden, 14 years after her death in distant Panama, she is never far from the lips and toes of dancers who were not yet born when she retired and of teachers who cannot erase her from performing memory. Such presence is rare. I have seen it only in Leonard Bernstein, never in any other musician.
Byron had it, reputedly, as did Einstein. Even Nureyev, in so many ways her creation, lacked the quality that made Fonteyn unique and inimitable.