Tuesday, June 26, 2007

2007 Is “The Year Of Nureyev” in the Publishing World

Three new books on Rudolf Nureyev will make 2007 a special year for commemorating the ballet great: Nureyev: The Life, a biography by Julie Kavanagh; an English translation of Trail of a Comet, choreographer Rudi van Dantzig’s book of reminiscences about Nureyev; and Life Behind the Metaphor, a book of rare photographs of Nureyev.

One year shy of his 70th birthday, the late ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev is set to be celebrated with a serendipitous occurrence: The publication of three major, complementary books on his life and art. Julie Kavanagh puts forth a comprehensive, 750-plus-page biography of the dancer in Nureyev: The Life. Famed choreographer and dance director Rudi van Dantzig shares personal reminiscences of his friend in Trail of a Comet, the first English translation of his book Het Spoor van Een Komeet. And photographer Roger Urban presents to the public for the first time his collection of photographs of Nureyev in performance and behind the scenes with Life Behind the Metaphor, a book of 80 black-and-white photographs taken during Nureyev’s 1978 tour of the United States. While Nureyev: The Life and Trail of a Comet tell the story of Nureyev’s legacy, Life Behind the Metaphor shows the great dancer in all his glory, in photographs that ballet lovers have never seen before.

The fortunate timing of these three very different titles should give ballet aficionados plenty to chew on. From Kavanagh, devotees will find a broad and deep look at Nureyev’s life and art, and from van Dantzig, an intimate look at the man who was his friend and artistic collaborator. But fans of Rudolf Nureyev will be particularly delighted with Life Behind the Metaphor, a previously unseen glimpse of his fantastic physical feats while in performance and his intensity, dedication, and humor backstage, preserved in a collection of 80 rare black-and-white photographs.

Life Behind the Metaphor will be available in October 2007 online at www.nureyevlegacy.org, and at select museum shops and art booksellers.

Nureyev, in His Own Words

The new book, Life Behind the Metaphor, presents a side of Rudolf Nureyev that ballet enthusiasts have never seen or read before: The ballet great in his own words and in his own selection of rare, in-performance photographs.

During the summer of 1978, Rudolf Nureyev toured America with the Dutch National Ballet. Remembering that time, Nureyev recalled, “I was still delectable; the public was quite for me; I felt I could present anything.” Nureyev performed Four Schumann Pieces and the pas de deux from Le Corsaire along with two ballets newly created especially for him: About a Dark House and a modern adaptation of Afternoon of a Faun. During this tour, Rudi van Dantzig, Artistic Director of the Dutch National Ballet, created many unique photo opportunities for this book’s creator, Roger Urban. He was given access to performances, rehearsals, classes, warm-ups and other behind-the-scenes situations.

As they toured the United States, Roger Urban had many relaxed and candid conversations with Rudolf Nureyev. From these interviews came the rare, introspective statements that are recorded in Life Behind the Metaphor. Robert Greskovic, the Wall Street Journal ballet expert, stated, “You’ve amassed the biggest concentration of Nureyev quotes I have so far seen in one place.” Nureyev himself also personally reviewed and selected the photographs that he felt best represented his art, his technique, and his behind-the-scenes work process.

NYPL Given Treasure Trove of Ballet Photos and Artifacts

Photographer Roger Urban, who documented Rudolf Nureyev’s 1978 US tour with the Dutch National Ballet, donated the complete collection of his photographs, along with original set and costume sketches from the tour, to the Library’s Dance Division. These never-before-seen photographs, which will also be released to the public in a new book, Life Behind the Metaphor, include the only personally authorized in-performance images of Nureyev during a 15-year period.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Jerome Robbins Dance Division has acquired a collection of never-before-seen, in-performance and behind-the-scenes photographs of ballet great Rudolf Nureyev. “I first saw these photographs just weeks before my retirement as curator of the New York Public Library Dance Division and immediately knew I wanted them for our collection,” says Curator Emerita Madeleine Nichols. “You can imagine my excitement, as I felt the movement behind the pictures, and relived the moment of first seeing Nureyev dance.” The Dance Division will display, from the donated collection, a set of limited-edition, museum-size platinum prints at New York City’s Lincoln Center in the fall of 2007. And a new book containing select photographs, Life Behind the Metaphor, will be published in October.

Rare, Unseen Photos of Nureyev

A new coffee-table book from the archives of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts offers readers a fresh look at 20th-century ballet icon Rudolf Nureyev. When Rudolf Nureyev danced, “He commanded vast admiration,” wrote Clement Crisp. “He warmed the stage, the audience, his fellow dancers, the art of ballet itself, and this was his genius.” But for a man who was such a celebrated dancer, relatively few photographs and personal recollections of Nureyev and his art exist. “Most people think that there are many photographs of Rudolf Nureyev in performance,” says Roger Urban, the photographer of the new book, Life Behind the Metaphor. “But because his contracts prohibited photography, such photographs are in fact quite rare.” Life Behind the Metaphor contains the only personally authorized in-performance photos of Rudolf Nureyev during a 15-year period. Several of these ballets with Rudolf Nureyev are not recorded anywhere else.