Nureyev, Fontaine and Falling in Love

Dame Margot Fontaine ballet dancing with Rudolph Nureyev.

In 1961, Rudolf Nureyev defected/leaped to the West, and on 21 February 1962 he and Fonteyn first appeared on stage together in a performance of Giselle.   It was a great success; during the curtain calls Nureyev dropped to his knees and kissed Fonteyn’s hand, cementing an on-and-offstage partnership which lasted until her 1979 retirement. Fonteyn and Nureyev became known for inspiring repeated frenzied curtain calls and bouquet tosses. A performance of the Giselle was televised and that was the first time I saw them dance together.  I fell in love with these two beautiful people.  If you would like to know what all the fuss was about then follow this link

Despite their differences in background, temperament, and a nineteen-year difference in age, Nureyev and Fonteyn became close lifelong friends but you were never quite sure about the extent of the friendship and whether there was the love affair you hoped for.  He said of her:

“At the end of Lac des Cygnes when she left the stage in her great white tutu I would have followed her to the end of the world.”

They remained close even after she retired to Panama!  When she was treated for cancer, Nureyev paid many of her medical bills and visited her often, despite his busy schedule as a performer and choreographer and despite his own health problems.

Nureyev said that they danced with “one body, one soul” and that Margot was “all he had, only her.” An observer said that “If most people are at level A, they were at level Z.”

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