10 years of world fame and 30 years of madness: the dramatic fate of the "god of dance" Vaslav Nijinsky
10 years of world fame and 30 years of madness: the dramatic fate of the "god of dance" Vaslav Nijinsky
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Ballet legend Vaslav Nijinsky

Famous dancer Vaslav Nijinsky considered the founder of the male dance of the twentieth century. Due to his extraordinary plasticity and the ability to "hang" in the air during the jump, he was called the "god of dance" and the man who overcame gravity. He spent the first half of his life on stage, remaining for 10 years the brightest ballet star, and spent the last 30 years in psychiatric hospitals, having lost interest in everything that once was the meaning of his life. His fate was another confirmation of the truth: genius and madness go hand in hand …

Vaclav Nijinsky

Vaslav Nijinsky was born in 1890 in Kiev into a family of Polish dancers who had their own ballet troupe, so his path was predetermined from birth. All three children of the Nijinsky were musically gifted and had incredible plasticity, Vaclav danced from an early age and showed good results. In 1907 he graduated from the St. Petersburg School of Music and was accepted into the troupe of the Mariinsky Theater. From the first days of his appearance on the stage, it was clear: a new ballet star was lit up.

The god of dance and the king of the air Vaslav Nijinsky Vaslav Nijinsky in the ballet Giselle, 1910

Nijinsky's partners were the famous prima ballerinas Matilda Kshesinskaya, Anna Pavlova and Tamara Karsavina. In 1908 the dancer met Sergei Diaghilev, who invited him to participate in the Russian Ballet Season in Paris. For 5 years, Nijinsky remained the leading soloist of Russian Seasons, which enjoyed unprecedented success in France. Thanks to Diaghilev's productions, a craze for Russian culture began in Paris, and the à la russe style came into vogue.

Ballet legend Vaslav Nijinsky Vaclav Nijinsky in the play Petrushka

He was called an innovator and experimenter, although these innovations were not always understood and accepted by the public. In 1911, Nijinsky was fired from the Mariinsky Theater in a scandal after he appeared in an overly revealing costume in the play Giselle. To the Empress Maria Feodorovna, his appearance seemed indecent (no one had gone on stage in tights before him), and Wenceslas was expelled. After that, Nijinsky became a permanent member of the Diaghilev troupe and remained to live abroad. He was very grateful to Diaghilev and said about him: "".

Vaslav Nijinsky while working on a ballet, 1916 Vaclav Nijinsky and Charlie Chaplin, 1916

Sergei Diaghilev encouraged his daring experiments and allowed him to reveal himself as a choreographer. The very first work of Nijinsky "Afternoon of a Faun" in 1912 created a real sensation: the reviews were contradictory, both outraged and delighted, but the resonance was incredible.

Vaslav Nijinsky in the ballet Afternoon of a Faun The god of dance and the king of the air Vaslav Nijinsky

In 1913, while touring South America, Vaclav Nijinsky married the Hungarian ballerina Romona Pulski. This led to a breakdown in relations between the dancer and Diaghilev, who sought complete control over the life of his favorite and was very jealous of everyone who claimed his favor and distracted him from work. As a result, Nijinsky was forced to leave Diaghilev's troupe. And this was the "beginning of the end" for him.

Dancer with his wife Siamese dances by Vaslav Nijinsky, 1910

Nijinsky rejected an offer to head the Grand Opera ballet in Paris - he wanted to create his own entreprise. He managed to gather a troupe and sign a contract with the London Palace Theater, but their tour was not successful.In no small measure they owed this failure to Diaghilev, who out of revenge did everything to bring Nijinsky's undertakings to financial ruin: he started lawsuits, challenged copyright, and the performances were canceled. This led to a nervous breakdown and the beginning of the dancer's mental illness.

Ballet legend Vaslav Nijinsky

In 1914, Nijinsky with his wife and newborn daughter decided to go to St. Petersburg, but the First World War caught them on the way, and until the beginning of 1916 they were forced to stay in Budapest. After that, he renewed his contract with Diaghilev and toured with the Russian Ballet in North and South America. In 1917 the dancer decided to leave the theater and settled with his family in Switzerland. The last time he appeared on the stage was in 1919.

The god of dance and the king of the air Vaslav Nijinsky

He shone on stage for only 10 years, but during this time he managed to become a ballet legend. He was called “the god of dance” and “the king of the air”: during the jump, he seemed to “hover” in the air and could do more than 10 rotations, which at that time was an absolute record. It was said that he could jump taller than his height, after his death, doctors performed an autopsy in order to detect some non-standard arrangement of bones and muscles, which gave him extraordinary capabilities, but nothing unusual was found.

Left - John Singer Sargent. Vaclav Nijinsky. Right - Auguste Rodin. Vaclav Nijinsky

The disease progressed, and Vaslav Nijinsky spent the second half of his life in psychiatric hospitals and sanatoriums. In 1918 he began keeping a diary, which was later published. It contains the following lines: "". From his notes and drawings, one could see how gradually madness overshadowed his mind.

Ballet legend Vaslav Nijinsky

In 1928, Count Harry Kessler was shocked by a meeting with a former dancer: "". In 1939, Nijinsky's wife invited Serge Lifar to dance for her husband. For a long time he remained, as always, indifferent, and then suddenly got up and took off in a jump. This last leap of the ballet legend was captured by a photographer.

The last jump of Vaslav Nijinsky

In April 1950, Vaclav Nijinsky died. Three years later, his remains were transported from London to Paris and buried in the Sacre Coeur cemetery. 20 years after the death of the legendary dancer, French choreographer Maurice Bejart staged the ballet Nijinsky, the Clown of God to music by Pierre Henri and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and in 1999 Andrei Zhitinsky dedicated the play Nijinsky, the Crazy Clown of God to him at the Moscow Drama Theater on Malaya Bronnaya.

Vaclav Nijinsky with his wife Romola in Vienna, 1945

He was called the successor of Nijinsky. The scandalous glory of Serge Lifar: How an emigrant from Kiev became a world ballet star.

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