Nureyev the documentary elegantly, and beautifully incorporates modern dance scenes to play out some of Rudolf’s life events.

★★★★☆ | Nureyev

The most famous ballet dancer of all time is spotlighted in the new film Nureyev.

Rudolf Nureyev was born during the cold, dark days of communist Russia. His talent for dancing was spotted at a young age, and lucky for him, his country wanted to show him off to the rest of the world. While never really hiding his homosexuality, Rudolf was able to travel the world with his ballet troupe, and Nureyez just seemed to lap up the stardom, fame, and money that came along with this success.

But as we all know, Nureyev didn’t want to be a part of the Russian state, he felt that he, after travelling all over with the ballet company, that he wanted to be free, freedom to him was essential, so while in Paris on a tour, he defected. Yes, he thought about this long and hard, and he knows that when he defects, he would never be able to go back to Russia to see his family, but his decision was final. And thus, he was free, a free man to enjoy a new life in the West, and did he enjoy it.

Nureyev goes on to show what a life he led; the acclaim, the wealth, and his too close for comfort relationship with Margot Fonteyn, a married British ballet superstar. As the documentary goes to show us, Nureyev and Fonteyn were inseparable. They spent lots of time together, not just on stage but off stage as well. But life had other plans for Nureyev. He was in his early 20s when gay and bisexual men around the world started developing AIDS, and Nureyev, who would die from AIDS-related complications in 1992 (at the age of 54), more than likely picked up the HIV virus in the 80s.

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The documentary filmmakers show us the last days of this superstar, dying and frail, and looking much much older than what he was.

Nureyev the documentary elegantly, and beautifully incorporates modern dance scenes to play out some of Rudolf’s life events. Ballet dancers, atop a stage in the middle of a forest, play out scenes and events that are being told in the documentary. This storytelling adds to the beauty and dignity of Nureyev’s life. However, Nureyev, the documentary doesn’t even go into detail about any of his gay relationships. Him and arts student Robert Tracy had a two-and-a-half-year love affair, which is not mentioned in the film. Tracy later became Nureyev’s secretary and live-in companion for over 14-years in a long-term open relationship until his death. And there’s no mention of any other lovers nor the hedonistic times he spent dancing at Studio 54.

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Perhaps this is for another documentary. Nureyev, while not completely telling the whole story, is nonetheless a beautiful film about a very talented man who died before his time was up.


About the author: Tim Baros
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for, and He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, and He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.