The fiery and occasionally controversial life of the Russian ballet giant is the subject of this immaculate documentary portrait from co-directors David and Jacqui Morris.
Tracing the dancer’s journey from poverty-stricken childhood in the Soviet Union to Royal Ballet behemoth, contemporary interviews with Nureyev and his friends and dance partners are laid over footage of the performer not just on stage but fooling around at home, always swarmed by paparazzi. The arrival of this footage at a cinematic level brings the physicality of the art form to life, the animalism and strength behind the structure of dance coming through alongside Nureyev’s wry sense of humour.
The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation gave the Morris’s access to a wealth of old VHS tapes, including unseen footage of his more avant-garde performances. His early years, meanwhile, are illustrated by interpretative dance sequences choreographed by Russell Maliphant. It’s a risky strategy, but it pays off.
Essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in ballet and dance, Nureyev chronicles the rise and fall of one of the last century’s greatest dancers and performers, an extraordinarily magnetic figure whose legacy continues to live on. (Research Chris Coetsee) Come, glimpse this extraordinary man and huge symbolic figure in the ‘60s Cold War circus.