Rudolf Nureyev: from small steps to one giant leap

Financial Times — 11 December 2015
by Louise Levene

Previous Nureyev films have mined a rich seam of amateur and professional archive footage but in Dance to Freedom the famous solos are created afresh by Bolshoi star Artem Ovcharenko. With his exotic bone structure and boyish beauty, Ovcharenko is a good physical match and gives polished — almost too polished — accounts of the solos from Le Corsaire, The Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote.


Ovcharenko, with his new “beatnik haircut” (Cecil Beaton’s phrase) joins the dots between the familiar photographs of Nureyev: posing as Narcissus/sitting on his suitcase for his snap-happy friend Tamara Zakrzhevskaya or (still more famously) stripping off for Richard Avedon.


In the film’s closing moments French ballet critic René Sirvin vividly recalls the scene while we watch Ovcharenko skim tirelessly through the entrechats, slippered feet fluttering over the broken glass. “They did everything possible to unnerve him but he kept going,” smiles Sirvin. “That day he really became free.”

Photo © 2015 Hulton/Getty; BBC — Artem Ovcharenko recreates a Nureyev rehearsal in the new BBC docudrama ‘Dance to Freedom’