Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Author Speaks about 'Tartar Tiger' Mentor

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Author Speaks about 'Tartar Tiger' Mentor

Article excerpt

At the height of the Cold War, on June 16, 1961 -- just after the Russians had beaten the Americans into space and just before the erection of the Berlin Wall -- a 23-year-old Tartar who had grown up hungry, both literally and artistically, defected while on tour with the Kirov Ballet in Paris.

His name was Rudolf Nureyev and he became, according to Linda Maybarduk-Alguire, a former dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and long-time partner and friend of Nureyev's, "one of the most influential 20th century artists that ballet produced."

The impetus for Mayburduk-Alguire's young adult book about Nureyev, "The Dancer Who Flew" (published in 1999) and a talk about it before the Friends of the Sarasota Ballet, was to set the record straight ("without all the sordid personal details" focused on in other biographies) about the dancer who became her frequent partner, family friend and generous teacher.

"There's no question dance would not be what it is today if Rudolf had stayed behind the Iron Curtain," she said.

Among the revolutionary changes Nureyez's presence in the West triggered, Maybarduk-Alguire noted:

His sheer talent, motivation and charisma drew new audiences to live ballet performances in unprecedented numbers, often in geographical locales where ballet had never before been presented;

He opened opportunities for other companies and dancers to travel on a far greater and more frequent scale than previously, due to demand to see him perform live;

His acceptance and popularity changed how people inside and outside of ballet accepted men in the art form;

He put male dancers -- to that point often relegated as "porteurs" for women, the featured artists -- on more equal footing, with opportunities to express a man's unique and athletic abilities;

By guesting with as many as 40 companies around the world, he raised the standards for technical and artistic expression on an international basis. …

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