It’s always going to be a hard call to make a dramatised documentary about someone like Rudolf Nureyev: basically, who are you going to get to play him? But BBC got a fairly classy stand-in for this film about the Soviet dancer’s epochal defection to the West, in the shape of Bolshoi Ballet Principal Artem Ovcharenko.
Previous Nureyev films have mined a rich seam of amateur and professional archive footage but in Dance to Freedom the famous solos are created afresh by Bolshoi star Artem Ovcharenko. With his exotic bone structure and boyish beauty, Ovcharenko is a good physical match and gives polished – almost too polished – accounts of the solos from Le Corsaire, The Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote. — The Financial Times, 11 December 2015
Artem Ovcharenko – the young Bolshoi Ballet principal who acts and dances Nureyev – communicates something of the tightly coiled energy, the obsessive artistry and the gambler’s instinct that made the star kick so hard against the limits of his world, and risk so much to find a new one. — The Guardian, 14 December 2015
Nureyev is marvellously acted and danced by the Bolshoi’s Artem Ovcharenko, who conveys all the young star’s magnetism, narcissism and infuriating obstinacy. — The Financial Times, 14 December 2015
Artem Ovcharenko, a dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, was the image of the young “Rudy”, capturing both his maddening narcissism and endearing charm. And his recreation of the performances that captivated the Paris audiences were a reminder that Nureyev’s high opinion of his talents was well deserved. — The Independent, 20 December 2015