Editorial Collection

Vaslav NIJINSKY (1889-1950)

Legendary danser and avant-garde choreographer, Nijinsky fascinated other artists of his generation with his exceptional talent and mysteriously attractive personality. Great artists such as Rodin, Chagall, Modigliani, Cocteau or Max Jacob portrayed him in numerous sculptures, paintings, pastels, drawings, etchings and photos.

Nijinsky received his artistic training at the St. Petersberg Imperial Theater School of Mary and became a celebrated artist of the Imperial Russian Theaters before becoming one of the creative forces behind the "Ballet Russe" that was founded by Diaghilev in 1908. This was both a ballet company of the most talented dansers of the period and a place of gathering and creation for painters, authors, poets, musicians and choreographers of avant garde art movements. Nijinski created four unforgettable choreographies for four ballets: "L'Après-midi d'un faune" in 1912 and "Jeux" in 1913 to music by Debussy; "Sacre du printemps" in 1913 to music by Igor Stravinsky and "Till Eulenspiegel" in 1916 to music by Richard Strauss.

His 1913 choreography "Sacre du printemps" created one of the greatest scandals of the year because of its innovating quality; in fact 1913, the year before the first world war, is remembered as the year of the "sacre". His profoundly new style of expression in choreography is in absolute break with the narrative style and the five traditional positions of ballet practised in his time.

He thus became the leading choreographer of the "Ballet Russe" in 1916, but his marriage in Buenos Aires the same year marked the end of his contract with Diaghilev. He then founded his own company in England — with little success — supported by his sister and the composer Ravel. He presented his last choreography "Till Eulenspiegel " to music by Richard Strauss in the USA. thanks to Diaghilev, and for a last collaboration with the "Ballet Russe" he dansed in a tour of Latin America in 1917 "Le spectre de la rose" and "Petrouchka". In 1919, suffering from schizophrenia, he was only able to write his "diary" mirroring his mystical preoccupations with numerous pages of the same and unique drawing: the circle.

Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his death, the Orsay museum and the Dance museum of Stockholm have traced his life and work through private and public collections worldwide, prominent amongst which is that of John Neumeier the director of the Hamburg Ballet.

Leon Bakst - Vaslav Nijinsky in LApres Midi dun Faun
Vaslav Nijinsky in LApres Midi dun Faun
Leon Bakst
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