Rudolf Nureyev is born on board a train on the trans-Siberian railway, near Lake Baikal. Although his official birth date is March 17, 1938 it was probably in fact two or three days earlier. He is the youngest of four children and the only boy, born to a Tartar family of peasant stock. His father Hamet, is a political education officer in the Red Army, advancing to the rank of major while his mother, Farida, accompanies her husband with the family. Nureyev attends the Leningrad Ballet school, then joins the Kirov Ballet.
I had no early memories of my father earlier than his return from military service in 1946. This helps explain the lack of rapport between my father and I which was, made worse because by then I had already fixed on what my father thought the unmanly career of dancing.