Fantasia in C minor

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Kenneth MacMillan made this solo for Rudolf Nureyev. The occasion was a gala matinée, which Margot Fonteyn had organised in aid of the Royal Academy of Dancing (as it then was). But during the performance on a slippery stage Nureyev lost one shoe, stopped (“with devastating sang-froid”) to remove the other and appeared thereafter to improvise the choreography.

Writing in The Observer, Alexander Bland (Nigel and Maude Gosling, Nureyev’s close friends) characterised Fantasia as a “vaguely hip arrangement performed by Nureyev with a nonchalant ease which enabled him to shed a pair of recalcitrant slippers without subtracting from - indeed adding to - the choreography.” The Times was more chilly: “one could have been forgiven for imagining that this was the incredible Mr Nureyev’s benefit”. It said the solo was “new, jazzy, but misjudged.”

“I was not proud of the choreography”, MacMillan told Edward Thorpe. He was uncomfortable with Nureyev and with the cult of celebrity that surrounded him.