Sunday, October 14, 2007
Try some pirouettes . . . that will calm you down.”Pushkin said to Rudy (Nureyev)
In 1958, at the age of twenty, Nureyev was asked to join the Kirov. The following year, he tore a ligament in his leg and needed special care, so Pushkin invited him to move in with him and his wife, Xenia, a pretty and strong-willed forty-two-year-old dancer, who had just retired. Nureyev was soon in bed with Xenia. This painful story was whispered about for years. (It was presented as fact in Diane Solway’s 1998 biography, “Nureyev.”) Kavanagh defends Nureyev. Xenia, she says, seduced him, and she was not a person one said no to. Nureyev was frightened and ashamed but also curious. So it happened, and Xenia fell in love. She darned his socks and cooked his dinners. She attended his classes and rehearsals, and she shooed away any of his friends who might compete for his time. Did Pushkin realize what was going on? No one knows, Kavanagh says, but the couple’s apartment consisted of only one room. I doubt that he was fooled. His attentions to Nureyev remained undiminished, however.