Balls-et

In San Francisco, Vanessa Harwood, who alternated with me in the leading role, was ill, and Rudolf [Nureyev] was too exhausted to rehearse with a new Swan Queen. I couldn’t refuse when he asked me to do all five performances: after all, he was dancing them all as well. After three performances, I was utterly spent, but he was so gentle, caring, and downright grateful that, for the last two performances—both on the same day, so I was literally hallucinating from fatigue and kept seeing phantom dancers leap across the stage—he treated me like porcelain. After the final curtain, he grinned at me triumphantly, “I knew you could do it. You and Margot [Fonteyn] have guts. I was born with only two balls, but you two, you were born with three.” I’ve never received a higher compliment.

—Karen Kain, Movement Never Lies: An Autobiography

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