________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2000

cover The Dancer Who Flew: A Memoir of Rudolf Nureyev.

Linda Maybarduk.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 1999.
180 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 0-88776-415-0.

Subject Headings:
Nureyev, Rudolf, 1938-1993-Juvenile literature.
Ballet dancers-Russia (Federation)-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Tom Knutson.

*** /4


As one of the twentieth century's greatest artists and best-known celebrities, Rudolf Nureyev came to symbolize dance in much the same way as Babe Ruth symbolizes baseball and Luciano Pavarotti does the opera. He was a force in the dance world, and his contributions were enormous and revolutionary. His superior talent and charismatic presence drew millions of people to the ballet for the first time, creating a worldwide audience for dance. His technical prowess and masculine style made dancing once again an acceptable profession for men.

Passion, energy and style come alive in this memoir of ballet superstar Rudolf Nureyev. As his former dancer partner and friend, retired National Ballet of Canada soloist Linda Maybarduk recounts Nureyev's life through personal memories and those of Nureyev's family members and colleagues. From his birth in a turbulent Soviet Union to his final triumphant curtain call just weeks before his early death, the reader follows Nureyev's career through several of this century's significant cultural events, including his famous defection to the West, his partnership with legendary ballerina Margot Fonteyn, and a long-awaited visit to his homeland in post-communist Russia.

Organized chronologically, The Dancer Who Flew includes background on the use of historical and contemporary place names, an introduction to the author's relationship with Nureyev, a glossary of ballet terms, and an extensive list of acknowledgments. Many black and white photographs capture Nureyev's most spectacular dance moments and portray important people in his life such as teachers and friends. While the font is small, the text flows freely and quickly, evoking the fast-paced drama that characterized Nureyev's life.

Sadly, The Dance Who Flew will have a limited audience, particularly among many male young adults who still view ballet as a less than masculine profession. Ironically, they will be inadvertently dismissing a story of the man who, through his great physical strength and passionate drive for perfection, reinvented the role of the male ballet dancer. The work, itself, extends beyond the dance stage to give readers a sense of the political atmosphere during the Cold War, making it an intriguing biography worth of inclusion in any large library collection.


Tom Knutson, a children's librarian at Vancouver Public Library, is vice-chair of the Young Adult and Children's Section of the British Columbia Library Association.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364