From Richard Buckle, one of the all-time leading authorities on golden-era Russian dance, Nijinsky is an account of the rise and fall of perhaps the most iconic ballet performer of the twentieth century, Vaslav Nijinsky. Drawing on personal conversations with countless people who knew and worked with Nijinsky, including his sister and famed choreographer Bronislava Nijinska, Buckle’s intimate and astonishing portrait reveals a master whose reign was all too brief.
As a dancer, interpretive artist, and choreographic pioneer, Nijinsky reached unparalleled heights. His breathtaking performances with the Ballets Russes took Western Europe by storm, and his avant-garde choreography for The Afternoon of a Faun and The Rite of Spring, both now regarded as the foundation of modern dance, caused riots in the streets.
Through his liaison with the great impresario Sergei Diaghilev, Nijinsky worked with the artistic elite of the time—including Alexandre Benois, Léon Bakst, Claude Debussy, Mikhail Fokine, Tamara Karsavina, Anna Pavlova, and Igor Stravinsky—and lived in an atmosphere of perpetual glamour, hysteria, and intrigue. But when Njinsky married Hungarian aristocrat Romola de Pulszky, Diaghilev abruptly dismissed him from the Ballets Russes. Five years after the betrayal, Nijinsky was diagnosed with schizophrenia and declared insane, and the final curtain fell on the world’s most famous dancer.
This remarkable biography both celebrates Nijinsky’s profound genius and shadows his descent into the madness that is inextricably linked with his legendary reputation.
Not only is this the first book to present nineteenth- and twentieth-century ballet as a continuous rather than broken tradition, From Petipa to Balanchine places works such as Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, Apollo and Jewells in their proper cultural and artistic context.
The only English-language study to be based on the original Russian soures, this book will be essential reading for all dance scholars. Written in an engaging and elegant style it will also appeal to anyone interested in the history of ballet generally.
Immersed in the world of dance from his childhood, he found his natural home in the Imperial Theatre and the Ballets Russes, he had a powerful sponsor in Sergei Diaghilev - until a dramatic and public failure ended his career and set him on a route to madness. As a dancer, he was acclaimed as godlike for his extraordinary grace and elevation, but the opening of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring saw furious brawls between admirers of his radically unballetic choreography and horrified traditionalists.
Nijinsky's story has lost none of its power to shock, fascinate and move. Adored and reviled in his lifetime, his phenomenal talent was shadowed by schizophrenia and an intense but destructive relationship with his lover, Diaghilev. 'I am alive' he wrote in his diary, 'and so I suffer'. In the first biography for forty years, Lucy Moore examines a career defined by two forces - inspired performance and an equally headline-grabbing talent for controversy, which tells us much about both genius and madness.
This is the full story of one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century, comparable to the work of Rosamund Bartlett or Sjeng Scheijen.