A Fractured Toe Is No Joke to a Man Who Earns His Living on His Feet: Rudolf Nureyev
At 41, though, Nureyev is determined to mend fast, and he immediately began to gimp through part of his daily barre practice. He is constantly reminded that he is running out of time. West German critics sniped at his Nutcracker, claiming the Russian's dancing is no longer what it used to be. "Nature is clever about these things," Nureyev acknowledged. "I'll dance as long as I enjoy it. When it becomes painful, I will find it unpleasant and be dissatisfied...Maybe choreography will sweep me off my feet."
Indeed, the injury (remarkably, the first broken bone in his 26-year dance career) caused Nureyev to missstarring in the world premiere of Manfred, a work about the Byronic hero, which he choreographed for the Paris Opera Ballet. But the dancer stomped around rehearsals and managed to bring his authority to bear even wearing red après-ski booties.
The day after Manfred opened before an adoring audience at the immense (capacity: 4,000-plus) Palais des Sports, Nureyev's cast was removed. He remains swaddled in tape, but is driving himself physically so that he can appear in Manfred before the end of the run on New Year's Eve. "Somehow life tastes better when I dance," Nureyev explains. "Some people are patient, but I..."