I just finished Colum McCann‘s novel The Dancer about Rudolf Nureyev the brilliant Russian/Tartar dancer who died of AIDS in his 50’s.  He was buried in the Russian cemetery outside of Paris January 12, 1993.

At the beginning of his book McCann quotes William Maxwell from his book So Long, See You Tommorow “…Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform in this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”

I found this quote very comforting as I struggle with writing about my ancestors and trying to tease out a narrative that makes sense based on their place and time and very little facts.  McCann has brilliantly shaped the outline of an elusive and complicated artist with great feeling and beauty.  I fell under his and Rudi’s spell as I read the book and later looked at photos and film showing Nureyev in performance.  I remember as a college student seeing the stunningly handsome dancer on TV shows and in magazines.

Tonight I saw “First Position.”  A documentary film about the international ballet competition held in New York City.  It is a lovely film.  There was one young man from Colombia, a graceful and handsome dancer, who won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet in London.  His name is Joan Sebastian Zamora, age 16 about the age of Rudi when he began his career at the Kirov.  Perhaps he has the drive and the courage to be the next Nureyev.

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