Vaslav Nijinsky 1889-1950
He was another one of those tragic heroes. He didn't die young, but he became mentally ill, and his career was basically over by the time he was 30. He was considered the best dancer of his time and was a star of the Ballet Russe. There are small film clips of him, blurry and dreamy. His motions are strange, and the poses are stiff like the figures painted on a Greek vase. His choreography suits the music perfectly. We can't understand now how new and original this theater was. No one had heard music like this before, no one had seen modern dance. It was all cutting edge, and he was one of the new artists.
The head of the Ballet Russe, Diaghilev was his lover. I don't know what their relationship was like. He was much younger than Diaghilev, and it seems like his career was dependant on the older man. There's still gossip that Diaghilev held all the power and was very jealous and controlling, even having a servant follow Nijinsky everywhere he went. In 1913 the Ballet Russe toured South America. Diaghilev was afraid to go along, he was convinced he would drown at sea. Romola Pulszky, a young Hungarian countess, was a huge Nijinsky fan. She became a dancer and was part of the troop. During the tour in South America the two were married. When Nijinsky got back to Paris Diaghilev hit the roof and fired them both. He tried to start his own dance company, but the administrative and business end were too much for him. His wife tried to sue Diaghilev for lost wages, but got no where. They had one child.
By 1916 he couldn't hide his mental illness anymore. He was 27. His wife took him to a clinic in Switzerland, but there was no cure in those days. He spent the rest of his life in and out of mental hospitals. He lived to be 60.
He was loved for his grace, and the way he seemed to float in the air. He was a good actor and could convey feeling and character when he danced. His choreography still stands on it's own.