More rubbish has been written about Vaslav Nijinsky than about any other dancer. Therefore it is sheer joy to read the biography by Peter Ostwald. He is a professor of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco and as such eminently able to analyze this severely troubled dancer. Nijinsky was born in 1890 and was enrolled as a child at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg. There he excelled in artistic subjects, but did badly in academic ones and behaved so badly that he was threatened with expulsion. As a person who was unaccustomed to sophisticated life he found it very difficult to adjust, furthermore he was by nature a rather shy and retiring young boy when he found himself patronized by people like Prince Pavel Lvov. Then followed his disastrous marriage to a Hungarian heiress and a series of unfortunate events like a fiasco in London, fracas during the first night of his ballet "Le sacre du printemps" and the outbreak of WWI. In those days there was not much the doctors could do for mental patients and when Nijinsky died in 1950 he had not been dancing for over thirty years. The tragic fate of this gifted dancer has been documented a number of times, but for the first time by a person who has insight in mental disorders. A handsome volume with interesting illustrations, two appendix of medical character, lavish notes and bibliograhy. --Amazon.Com Review
THE UNEXPURGATED DIARY OF VASLAV NIJINSKY
Vaslav Nijinsky spent the final six weeks before his permanent consignment to an insane asylum as something a madman in the attic. With his family--wife, young daughters and occasionally, mother-in-law--and household staff downstairs, the legendary dancer retreated to his room in a remote Swiss villa to tangle with his burgeoning psychosis. Fearful that his wife would (as she ultimately did) commit him, and highly suspicious of the physician-cum-amateur psychiatrist who daily came by to examine him, Nijinsky perceived the diary as the only safe haven for the rambling thoughts that were overtaking him. Throughout, the anxiety and anguish are palpable, as Nijinsky writes about his disillusionment with his mentor and lover, Ballets Russes director Serge Diaghilev; his alienation from and distrust of his closest family members; and his fear of insanity and its consequential confinement. His writing becomes more obscure as the weeks progress and he examines his relationship to God, writing "I am God" at one point, and later: "God said to me, 'Go home and tell your wife that you are mad.'" As his schizophrenia evolves, the pace and style of Nijinsky's prose changes radically--toward the end he writes in abstract verse--but he remains, with a dancer's sensibility, attuned to the cadences of his environment. The noises of the household, the ringing of the phone, footsteps down the hall, smatterings of conversations overheard are all registered as a sort of accompaniment to his dance with madness and function perhaps as a final tether to reality.
Nijinsky's wife stumbled upon the diary in a locked trunk some years after her husband disappeared into the abyss of madness and soon released it for publication to feed public interest in her famous mate--but not before she sanitized the manuscript to such a degree (removing references to his homosexuality, overblown ego, bizarre paranoia, and various obsessions with bodily functions and sex acts) that its essence was obscured. Now 80 years after it was written, 20 years after its renegade editor died, and six years after the copyright that Nijinsky's daughters held expired, the unexpurgated version of the diaries faithfully restores the fascinating record of a great artist's struggle for his life.
THE QUEER AFTERLIFE OF VASLAV NIJINSKY
The Queer Afterlife of Vaslav Nijinsky is three books in one: an impressionistic account of the dancer’s homoerotic career, an analysis of his gay male reception, and an exploration of the limitations of that analysis. The impressionistic account, based on the aestheticism of Walter Pater, focuses on significant gestures made by Nijinsky in key roles, including the Golden Slave, the Specter of the Rose, Narcissus, Petrouchka, and the Faun. The analysis of his reception, based on the semiotics of Roland Barthes, is deconstructive. And the exploration of the the analytical limitations sets the stage for cultural studies that move beyond Barthesian semiotics-beyond, that is, the author’s last two books.
Why, given that most of his followers were not gay, describe Nijinsky’s queer afterlife? The author’s answer is that Nijinsky was the Lord Alfred Douglas of the Ballet Russes. The dancer, however, had even more "lilac-hued notoriety" than Douglas-notoriety based upon common knowledge of his sexual relationship with Serge Diaghilev, upon his having been one of the first sensuous young men to dominate a Western stage recently riven by the homosexual/heterosexual division we are still contending with today, and upon his mastery of leading roles and body languages that had very little to do with conventional masculinity. --Amazon.Com Review
NUREYEV: HIS LIFE
Everyone knows the name Rudolf Nureyev, but does anyone know the man behind the myth? Diane Solway does; she spent over four years and conducted more than 200 interviews with his family, his friends and lovers, his colleagues, and even his doctors to research Nureyev: His Life, the first book to capture him as he was onstage and off -- a great artist whose talent was matched only by his steely will to succeed.
Here is his professional career: his famed partnership with Margot Fonteyn, his personal transformation of the Royal Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet, his impact on dance companies all over the world, his collaborations with Martha Graham and Paul Taylor, and, behind all his accomplishments, the athletic grace and profound understanding that was his gift of genius. Here, too, is the private Nureyev: his Soviet childhood, his inner demons, the men and women who were willing to devote their lives to him. Solway chronicles his flamboyant, extravagant lifestyle, his celebrity-studded circle of friends -- Jacqueline Onassis, Andy Warhol, and Marlene Dietrich, to name only three -- his stormy love affairs, his homosexual promiscuity, and his death from AIDS in 1993. Nureyev was his own masterpiece, a man always in the process of reinventing himself. Diane Solway's superb biography is as brilliant and as fascinating as the dazzling dancer at center stage.
THE DANCER WHO FLEW: A MEMOIR OF RUDOLF NUREYEV
Maybarduk, a former soloist with the National Ballet of Canada, crafts a compelling memoir of her friend and colleague, the fiery, brilliant dancer Rudolf Nureyev. While acknowledging that the superstar's life was "not without controversy", Maybarduk refrains from the "tell-all" approach, choosing rather to examine Nureyev's "impact as an artist, as a dancer, and as an influential craetive genius." And this she does, with a fluency and skill remarkable for a first time author. She weaves together biographical facts, personal reminiscence, peeks backstage and a history of ballet in the 20th century to create a portrait not only of a man "born in motion" but of an art form radically transformed by his passion and commitment. Entering the dance at a time when men were frequently mere support to ballerinas, Nureyev worked to restore male dancers to leading roles in classical ballet. His much publicized defection from the Soviet Union in 1961 prompted an outpouring of support from the Western Eurpoean ballet community, and his acclaimed performances with Margot Fonteyn - as well as his personal style and presentation - were in part responsible for the ballet boom of the 1960's and '70's. Nureyev's unusual roots in folk dance and his willingness to experiment with new forms led to a bridging of the gap between ballet and American modern dance. Set amid a handsome design, more than 70 black-and-white photographs attest to the dancer's charismatic presence as well as his genius. An insightful and highly readable biography, of interest not only to balletomanes but to all young artists. -The Publisher, Tundra Books, December 1999