In his compelling fictionalized biography of Rudolf Nureyev, Dancer: A Novel, Colum McCann paints a picture of a man both representative of his time and unique. Of Tatar descent, Nureyev experienced both incredible hardship in Stalinist Russia and–at the height of his career in the West, after he defected–unimaginable luxury. Reportedly sexually rapacious, he was consistently described as a superbly passionate and charismatic performer. So there’s something a little odd, even self-defeating, about a program that revolves around him, a dancer who can hardly be emulated. The Joffrey’s upcoming program, “A Nureyev Tribute,” offers three works with which Nureyev was associated, two of them in connection with the Joffrey. Nureyev starred in Michel Fokine’s Petrouchka when he and the Joffrey jointly staged “Homage to Diaghilev” in 1979 in New York, and in 1970 Nureyev taught the Joffrey a ballet choreographed by fellow Russian dancer Vakhtang Chabukiani, Laurencia. The company never presented that full-length work, but the Laurencia wedding pas de six (directed by Anna-Marie Holmes) is on this program, and the male solo, performed by Ikolo Griffin at the lecture-demonstration I attended, looks devilishly difficult. (Willy Shives danced Petrouchka at the same demonstration, a role made famous by the inimitable Vaslav Nijinsky.) The third work is George Balanchine’s 1928 Apollo–and the fabulously muscled Fabrice Calmels certainly looked the part of a Greek deity. But it must be god-awful to try to fill the shoes of someone larger than life. Opens Wed 10/13, 7:30 PM. Through 10/24: Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, 312-902-1500; 312-739-0120, ext. 20, for groups of ten or more. $15-$100.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Herb Migdoll.