Rudolf Nureyev always remained secretive about his private life and relationships, but as much as he was willing to tell can be found in a 1991 documentary by Patricia Foy, screening tonight on the PBS "Great Performances" series.
Previously available on home video, this artful, 90-minute collage of film clips and interviews can be seen at 8 p.m. on KPBS-TV Channel 15 and KVCR-TV Channel 24, and at 9 p.m. on KCET-TV Channel 28.
You won't hear a word about homosexuality or AIDS, of course, but "Nureyev" shares unusually emotional memories of the man's turbulent family life in the provincial Soviet city of Urfa and his early experiences in dance. Foy takes her cameras to the exact locations he describes, interviewing a sister and a schoolteacher but also vividly picturing the environment that shaped him.
From folk dance training he gained "temperament and command of stage," he says, and his 101-year-old former ballet teacher Anna Undeltsova also recalls his "perfect ear for music." Reminiscences (not all of them pleasant) of his training in St. Petersburg lead to a detailed account of his defection in 1961.