I just watched a video of Rudolf Nureyev’s last years. Years that slowly burnt down his solid talent like a persistent candle that would not surrender to the end of its source, but fed upon just the idea and not the reality of so great an artist. It was painful to watch. It must have been more painful to be that flame pulsing against nothing at the end when it used to be a conflagration of a
genius used to many other lights helping him through and spotlighted as well for us all to watch.
I saw Nureyev when he first came to New York. He frequented the Russian Tea Room with the regal permission only such a great talent could have. He was young and happy to be noticed. We were all at the edges where the darkness and light meet — happy to notice him.
At night he flew across the stage before gravity could pull him down to earth.
He lived it all once he made the jump to freedom. Onstage and offstage. It killed him sooner than we would die. But maybe there is just a hint of jealousy in with our grief that he dared what we could not begin to dare. We stayed on earth while he propelled into the stars.