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Dancer : a novel /

Main Author: McCann, Colum, 1965-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Metropolitan Books, 2003
Edition: 1st ed.
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Review by Booklist Review

For three decades, the legend of ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev spread from continent to continent: the semicultured boy from Ufa who takes the Leningrad dance world by storm; political asylum in Paris; the amazing partnership with Margot Fonteyn; the matinee idol dancer; the hyperactive sex life; the enfant terrible. Actual events and qualities of Nureyev's public persona are tossed together in this novel, and his legend, nearly 10 years after his death, becomes myth. Some of the characters are real (Fonteyn, for instance), while others have sprung from the author's imagination. McCann is such a good writer that, real or not, the characters' powerful voices lead the reader to suspend disbelief on an entirely deeper level. Only dance writers and true Rudi fanatics will be able to distinguish the real from the imaginary, and one even suspects they might have some problems. Still, even those who have never been to a ballet--or seen Nureyev dance--will find this book enjoyable. --Frank Caso

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this unique biographical novel, McCann creates a portrait of Rudolf Nureyev as perceived by the people who knew him. Using a cast of actors (William Dufris and others) to voice Nureyev's contemporaries presents a fractured likeness--as if we are seeing reflections of his life in shards of mirror. Not a true biography, this work is more a character study of the many people in the dancer's life and the cultural changes that took place during his lifetime. The actors perform admirably--accents from many countries are handled with skill. The audiobook spans Nureyev's years of poverty in the Soviet Union through his wildly decadent life in Andy Warhol's New York--seeming to leave few stones unturned. The environments in Dancer are as changeable as light refracted through a prism. Recommended for libraries with contemporary literature or dance collections.--Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

In this unique biographical novel, McCann creates a portrait of Rudolf Nureyev as perceived by the people who knew him. Using a cast of actors (William Dufris and others) to voice Nureyev's contemporaries presents a fractured likeness as if we are seeing reflections of his life in shards of mirror. Not a true biography, this work is more a character study of the many people in the dancer's life and the cultural changes that took place during his lifetime. The actors perform admirably accents from many countries are handled with skill. The audiobook spans Nureyev's years of poverty in the Soviet Union through his wildly decadent life in Andy Warhol's New York seeming to leave few stones unturned. The environments in Dancer are as changeable as light refracted through a prism. Recommended for libraries with contemporary literature or dance collections. Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A fictionalized biography of Rudolf Nureyev (1938-93), chronicled in an understated, intimate narrative from the celebrated dancer's childhood to the height (and excesses) of his fame. The town of Ufa, in the former Soviet region of Bashkir, was about as far off the beaten track as you could get-especially under Stalin, when it was a secret industrial city not even allowed to appear on the map. Yet Ufa was to provide the first audience for one of the greatest stars in ballet history, who made his world premiere as a six-year-old dancing in the wards of WWII military hospitals. Talented from the start but no prodigy, Nureyev trained long and hard to become a dancer-first in Ufa (very much against the wishes of his father, a Party member who dreamed of having an engineer for a son), and later in Leningrad, where he became a member of the famed Kirov Ballet. When success arrived, it arrived quickly, and by the late 1950s Nureyev was doing command performances for Krushchev and the Central Committee. In 1961 he defected to the West, in Paris, transforming himself into cause celebre-vilified at home (his father publicly denounced him) and idolized abroad. McCann (Everything in This Country Must, 2000, etc.) tells the story from different perspectives, in chapters narrated alternately by Anna Vasileva (Nureyev's first ballet teacher), Victor Parecci (the gay Venezualian prostitute who became his lover in New York), Yulia Sergeevna (his landlady in Leningrad), and Nureyev himself. Like many success stories, Nureyev's presented a depressing spectacle of vanity and decadence toward the end, and the later chapters (largely chronicles of parties, shopping sprees, hangovers, and petty spites) convey this vividly. The ending, a description of Nureyev's 1987 return to visit his family in Ufa, is appropriate and moving. Balletomanes will love it, but the focus may seem obsessive to anyone who doesn't know who Margot Fonteyn is. Author tour

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.