Once I was in a Greek area of the city for dinner with a friend (from out of state) and he saw a shop and quipped “Wow! The Parthenon is now a jewelry store!” And indeed it was, at least by the storefront’s signage. That always struck me as funny (which I guess is a comment on my sense of humour). If an equine lover stumbled upon this post, they might shout out ‘Amazing, Nijinsky the racehorse is being lauded!’ Close but incorrect. Not quadruped time but Nijinsky the great Russian dancer of the early 20th c. He was celebrated as the greatest dancer of the early 20th century. Growing up my family were very interested in horse racing and culture so I was familiar with each and the juxtaposition made me smile. As the diligent readers of this humble blog have noted, I have gone wild over dancing (3 weeks tonight I started my first lessons) and am trying to make a study of dance and learn as much as I can.
The thumb nail from wiki:
Vaslav Nijinsky (also Vatslav; was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer, cited as the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century. He grew to be celebrated for his virtuosity and for the depth and intensity of his characterizations. He could perform en pointe, a rare skill among male dancers at the timeand his ability to perform seemingly gravity-defying leaps was legendary.
As a dancer, Nijinsky was extraordinary for his time. He is responsible for changing audiences’ perspective of the male dancer. He was a sensual performer and although he wore revealing costumes, he looked androgynous.
When I perused wiki his personal life struck me, that in terms of behavior over his entire life he was bi. Given the era in which he lived (1890-1950) that framing-conception was not in use. When I read a biography of him down the road, I will write in a more informed fashion. Kvetched to a friend the other day, stating “how many times must you have sex with both genders over the course of a career to be elected to the bi hall of fame?” There are NO hard and fast rules. Bi nation is making it up as it goes along.
More than 3 decades ago I read about how Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring” caused rioting in the audience when it was performed in Paris. Now I am reading how Nijinsky pushed the frontiers and limits of dance.
At the premier of Le Sacre du Printemps (1913) fights broke out in the audience between those who loved and hated a totally new style of ballet.
I do not think of myself as pushing the limits of sexuality because I am bi, but perhaps in my own small way I am doing that. When Nijinsky married, his employer fired him from the ballet company because essentially he was jealous, envious. Nijinsky proposed to his future wife in broken French and used mime because that was the only language they both understood to a degree. How charming is that! In terms of his dancing career though, it was a disastrous move. She was told by gossips that he was a homosexual, so she prayed he would be converted to heterosexuality.
Nijinsky became increasingly mentally unstable with the stresses of having to manage tours himself and deprived of opportunities to dance, which had always been his total obsession. After a tour of South America in 1917, and due to travel difficulties imposed by the war, the family settled in Switzerland, where his mental condition continued to deteriorate. The rest of his life was spent suffering from mental illness which incapacitated him beyond the ability to dance again in public.
Nijinsky spent the rest of his life in and out of psychiatric hospitals and asylums. During the last days of the Second World War he danced in public for the last time. He encountered a group of Russian soldiers decamped outside of Vienna, playing traditional folk tunes. Inspired by the music and his reunion with his countrymen, he leapt into an exquisite dance, astounding the men with the complexity and grace of his figures. The experience restored some of Nijinsky’s capacity for communication, after having maintained long periods of almost absolute silence
Below, 1907 a pretty androgynous Nijinsky reminding me of John Boy Walton (Richard Thomas) of that tv show (which I loved as an adult much later in life, compared to growing up when it was on originally I actually hated it)
For me coming out has been emerging from a shell, out of a self-imposed exile. Think of those wwii era Japanese soldiers in the jungles fighting, not realizing the war is kaput. Hostilities have ended for me too with the universe. I made peace and the terms of the treaty were fair and just for both sides. Dancing has been a second coming out. One certainly lead to the other. Feeling comfortable in my own skin gave me courage to do something so public which previously terrified me.