New York and the Nureyev Tapes

New York and the Nureyev Tapes

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Yes, my friends, we have finally made it out of LA… it’s the first time in a very long time!

The trip was sparked by the zeal of our friend Elizabeth Kaye, who beyond herself convinced us that we simply COULD NOT miss the May 18th (2018) performance of ballet stars David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova in ABT’s Giselle!

But what really drove us to make the unexpected journey was the discovery that nested inside the NY Library for the Performing Arts were the invaluable audiotapes that Elizabeth had recorded during her interviews with the one and only Rudolf Nureyev in 1990-1991.

with Elizabeth at the Met for ABT’s Giselle on May 18, 2018


For our home away from home, we booked an Airbnb in a neighborhood of Brooklyn, both historical and hip, to get a meaty flavor of NY and some off-time from Manhattan which we rode into practically everyday — yes, this global hub takes some getting used to!

A seven minute walk from the place we stayed, we visited this trendy spot in the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn on more than one occasion. This is one of those modern day dives where you’ll see the fresh juice machine next to the beer on-tap, and where we thoroughly enjoyed the popular Grasshopper drink – a refreshing mix of ginger, green apple, and lemonade.

Here I am at the Outpost with a latte and a side of neighborhood characters. I’m sitting beneath the work of a local artist in the lounge area of the rustic-meets-bohemian saloon, carved-out from the ground section of a large brownstone in the once wealthy neighborhood.

at the Outpost in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

Set on the street level of an old brick-red townhouse as typical for the NY neighborhood, we found a really decent juice-n-smoothie establishment – just around the corner from the place we were staying.  Every morning on our way to Manhattan, we stopped in to get our fix of ‘live’ food which would fuel us for the rest of the day.

the mega juicer machine at Rejuvenate which seriously caught Lana’s attention

Across from the smoothie bar was this stylish cafe always packed with regulars eager for their drink and a dose of the flavorsome scene. The cute Brooklyn eatery specializing in coffee drinks and a smattering of Israeli style dishes was definitely on our list, but Golda will have to wait till next time!

... sipping my morning juice at Rejuvinate


Between the ballet performances and the NY Library visits and our time with Elizabeth, the bulk of our activities revolved around Lincoln Center… we even found a large Whole Foods on the way there, which of course made the entire experience complete for us Santa Monicans.

Lana in front of the Lincoln Center complex which houses the Met Opera House, NY Performing Arts Library & home stage of New York City Ballet
... in front of the Met for ABT’s performance of Giselle on May 18, 2018

The Wall of Fame at Metropolitan Opera House, or simply “The Wall” is alphabetically tiled with over 1,000 black-and-white photos of star singers, musicians, conductors, dancers, directors, designers and even vip admins.

... at Met Opera’s Wall of Fame during an intermission for Giselle
Lana in front of NYCB for the Jerome Robbins tribute performance on May 20, 2018
large banners near Lincoln Center advertising Met House performances

Overall, the ballet performances were a treat, just because ballet is such a high art and it really does take you into another realm. See the X-tra! X-tra! section below for a glimpse into our performance menu.

The Nureyev Tapes

The greatest treasure we took with us was the experience of listening to the Nureyev tapes.  On three separate occasions we visited the NY Performing Arts Library, where the dutiful to the point of neurotic coat check lady, who made sure we absolved ourselves of all but the barest necessities before entering the sacred ground of the third floor dance division, got to know us very well.

What we heard was priceless, not only because of its historical value or the content itself, but because we were privy to a conversation with a channel of something akin to the immortal creative force.

It is possible that Elizabeth may be one of those closest to capturing the enigmatic psyche of the force that expressed itself through the physical vehicle of Rudolf Nureyev.  Her prolific and captivating Esquire article on the extraordinary dancer is certainly a testament to this conjecture.

Rudolf Nureyev in 1968 (photo by Colin Jones) & Elizabeth Kaye circa 1980’s

Nureyev is an exceptional figure who encompassed the pinnacle of the ecstasy and agony of the human condition, and who whilst displaying the spectrum of our mortal nature to its extreme, took a leap beyond the bounds of earthly limitation, ushering us into the sphere where the true power of spirit resides.

More to come on the Nureyev Tapes, from which I’ll be sharing segments in upcoming posts!

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New York and the Nureyev Tapes: X-tra! X-tra!

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New York and the Nureyev Tapes:

X-tra! X-tra!

Here’s a run through of what we saw in New York this May!


On May 18th we made our debut visit to Lincoln Center’s Met Opera House where we saw American Ballet Theatre’s performance of Giselle featuring the highly broadcast David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova.

American Ballet Theatre's Giselle, Season 2018

The historic ballet which triumphed from its very premiere on June 28, 1841 in France with the legendary Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi in the lead continues to strike a remarkable chord with audiences today. The classical choreography of Giselle is based on the staging of the great French-Russian choreographer Marius Petipa. 

Carlotta Grisi in the first act of Giselle (1842)
Nijinsky as Albrecht, 1910
Anna Pavlova as Giselle (before 1931)
Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg in ABT’s Giselle, photo by Gene Schiavone

The ballet tells the story of a peasant girl named Giselle who dies of a broken heart upon finding out that the one she loves has cheated her with his engagement to another.

Giselle is called from her grave to join a haunting group of supernatural women called the Wilis, young virgins who have all died of a broken heart, seeking to destroy those who have betrayed them by ruthlessly dancing the men to death. The Wilis target Giselle’s Albrecht, but Giselle finds it in her heart to forgive him and saves him from the dreadful fate.

Jerome Robbins Tribute: Fancy Free

On May 20th we trotted down to Lincoln Center once again, where we saw New York City Ballet perform a trio suite of Fancy Free, Dybbuk and West Side Story, celebrating the legendary partnership between Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein.

The first collaboration between Robbins and Bernstein, Fancy Free premiered in 1944 showcasing the exploits of three off-duty sailors in 1940’s wartime New York City, an echo to the scenes from Robbins own life.  This ballet was the forerunner to Robbins’ and Bernstein’s Broadway hit On the Town.

Bernstein (left) and Robbins (seated) with Sol Hurok on the set of Fancy Free, photo courtesy New York Public Library
Jerome Robbins, John Kriza, Michael Kidd, Janet Reed, and Muriel Bentley in Fancy Free (ABT, 1944)
Sebastian Villarini-Velez, Harrison Coll and Roman Mejia in NYCB's Fancy Free (May 2018), photo by Paul Kolnik

Jerome Robbins Tribute: Dybbuk

NYCB performs Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’ Dybbuk (May 2018), photo by Paul Kolnik

Adding a new and haunting dimension to the term “monkey on your back”, Dybbuk is an abstraction on the play The Dybbuk or Between Two Worlds written by S. Ansky between 1913 and 1916.  Robbin’s production focuses on the occult aspect of Russian-Jewish folklore whereby a lost and tormented spirit exists between worlds by inhabiting the susceptible mind of a living person through which it speaks and acts. Originally written in Russian, the play was later translated to Yiddish by Ansky himself.

S. Ansky whose actual name was Solomon Zanvel Rappoport was born in Vitebsk, Russia (now in Belarus) in 1863 and died in Warsaw, Poland on November 8, 1920.  Ansky was a Russian-Jewish writer and folklorist best known for his play The Dybbuk.

Dybbuk, by art nouveau illustrator and printmaker Ephraim Moshe Lilien
Russian writer S. Ansky

Jerome Robbins Tribute: West Side Story

New York City Ballet performs West Side Story suite, photo by Paul Kolnik (May 2018)

A modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in gang-ridden 1950’s New York, this work took the partnership between Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein to new heights.  The mammoth Broadway hit West Side Story premiered in 1957, followed by the 1961 movie version which garnered 10 Academy Awards.

Bernstein (left) and Robbins take a bow after a production (photo by Martha Swope, American photographer of theatre and dance)
Jerome Robbins (right) directs Jay Norman, George Chakiris and Eddie Verso in West Side Story, 1961

Hope these production silhouettes spark you to bring more ballet into your life!

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