Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Nureyev: The Russian Years" Pregame Part 2

Another tidbit, thanks to the blog of NPT 8 in Nashville—a preview clip of the documentary:

"Nureyev: The Russian Years" Pregame

We're finding out more and more about the documentary, "Nureyev: The Russian Years," every minute.

First, the documentary's producer, John Bridcut, stopped by our blog to clear up the confusion over the PBS/BBC versions of this project:

As the producer of the Nureyev documentary, I should make clear that the BBC, which commissioned the film in the first place, decided to use the title "NUREYEV: From Russia with Love". It will be screened on BBC2 on September 29th in the UK, and on the BBC HD channel. PBS is broadcasting a slightly shorter version of the film (six minutes is the difference), and elected to call it "NUREYEV: The Russian Years". Broadcasters often choose different titles, according to what they believe will resonate with their particular audiences.

Then, from Tobi Tobias' Voice of Dance review, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" (also available at her own blog), we learn some more about the source of the earliest footage of Nureyev:

Much of this early footage was shot by Teja Kremke, an East German ballet student who became Nureyev’s lover when they were both young. (Julie Kavanagh, whose exhaustive biography, "Nureyev: The Life," will be published by Pantheon next month, tracked it down, and served as consultant to Bridcut’s project.)

I hadn't realized that Kavanagh was so involved in the documentary, as well. I'm sure all of these things will probably be as clear as day once we see the documentary tonight.

From the New York Times' article, "The Nureyev Nobody Knows, Young and Wild," we learn that this, earliest, film footage is of Le Corsaire, no less (a Nureyev role that we obviously love):

The earliest known film of Nureyev dancing was made at a student competition in Moscow in 1958. At 20, dressed only in white harem pants, a gold headband and regulation soft slippers, he tears off a solo from “Le Corsaire.” The leaps and spins come thick and fast, embellished with Arabian Nights flourishes that go well with his Tatar allure. Yet the most seductive moment of the dance comes between the circus tricks, with a little nothing of a step called pas balancĂ©. A sweep of the leg here, an echoing sweep of the arm there, and repeat, to the other side — that was all, then straight into the next cyclone of a pirouette. But that throwaway transition was Nureyev’s invitation to join him in his private world of fantasy. Technically, the narrator of the Bridcut film points out, Nureyev’s performance at the competition was “far from perfect.” But already the imprint of his personality was unmistakable.

Haven't had enough? There's still more coverage over at the Buffalo News, from Karyn Collins at Asbury Park Press, and from the Rocky Mountain News.

Monday, August 20, 2007

David Gardner workshop August 25 and 26

This may already be sold out, but if not, folks in California may want to check out Life Behind the Metaphor contributor David Gardner (he's overseeing the press run and high-quality duotone stochastic process for the book) at the Center for Photographic Art this weekend, August 25 and 26. He's running a workshop with Chris Pichler entitled, “Publishing a Book: from Concept to Production."

The workshop will focus on photography book publishing and printing. Chris Pichler, founder and publisher of Nazraeli Press, will discuss methods of putting together book dummies, submitting proposals to publishers, the relationship of images and words, and various types of books and bindings. David Gardner will discuss technical aspects of papers, printing and binding. Both Chris and David will be happy to meet with participants one-on-one to look at their work in the context of book publishing, and answer any questions about publishing and printing the participants may have.

Thanks to Mary Virginia Swanson for her tip-off about the event—and about the YouTube video of David Gardner discussing what it was like to print books for Ansel Adams.

"Nureyev: The Russian Years" on PBS August 29

PBS's Great Performances series will detail the very beginning of Rudolf Nureyev's career in "Nureyev: The Russian Years," which begins airing on August 29. We first spotted news of it at the Arts and Dance blog of Laura Bleiberg at the Orange County Register. See more at the New Yorker's web site, which notes that

... in the old performance footage, some of it never released before, we can see the beginnings of his very individual style, notably the hyperstretched torso. (This was considered effeminate when he introduced it. Now it is standard.)

... The program also ... makes his defection as exciting as a police drama.

There's also the unflinching (sometimes brutal) story from LA Times writer Lewis Segal, entitled, "Nureyev: dancing around the lies." It starts off with:

Rudolf Nureyev lied about his life so often, to so many people, that any responsible biographer or documentarian must virtually cross-examine every living source to separate his extravagant fictions from bottom-line certainties.

No matter how one may feel about Nureyev the man, however, Segal does wrap up with writer-producer John Bridcut's observation about Nureyev's enduring ability to captivate and inspire people:

During his phone interview, Bridcut recalled that a lot of people working on "Nureyev: The Russian Years" approached him, "people who had no interest in ballet at all, like those who helped me edit the film and handled the sound, that sort of thing. And they said they were completely captivated by this man, particularly by that footage of him dancing in Moscow in 1958 [age 20], the first footage there is of him.

"They thought ballet meant nothing to them, and suddenly they were spellbound by him. And this is what all the people who saw him in the flesh still say. I found this really interesting -- that even now he remains a door into the world of ballet for people who are not otherwise drawn to it."

This is something we have discovered ourselves here at the Nureyev Legacy Project.

A curious footnote: Apparently, BBC HD is running the same documentary (beginning September 19), but calling it "Nureyev: From Russia with Love." What are we to make of the title change? Does PBS think U.S. audiences won't recognize the James Bond reference? Or do they think such a title would be too cavalier for such a severe figure as Nureyev? Or did the BBC "sex up" the title for the HD audience, which at this point likely has a larger proportion of football fans (both kinds) and action-movie aficionados than it does ballet enthusiasts?