The Australian Ballet

5 Reasons to see Nijinsky

John Neumeier’s Nijinsky is a mesmerising blend of glamour, tragedy and spectacular dancing. Curious?

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The Fascinating Life of a Ballet Legend

Vaslav Nijinsky was a prodigy whose astonishing leap and provocative choreography gave him the status of a rock star in early 20th-century Paris. But he was essentially a shy and awkward man. After a disastrous marriage and an acrimonious break-up with his lover Serge Diaghilev, which ended his career with the Ballets Russes, he descended into years of madness from which he never recovered.

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Exotic Glamour

The Ballets Russes turned the art form upside down with its groundbreaking collaborations with artists like Bakst, Picasso and Chanel – and captivated Europe with its style. Neumeier evokes this heady era with costumes and sets of his own design, based on Ballets Russes productions.

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A Tour de Force for the Ballet Men

Rather than recreating Nijinsky’s most famous roles (like the Golden Slave, the Rose, the Faun, and Petroushka), Neumeier evokes them with fragments of choreography in the style of the ballets. Seven men dance Nijinsky at various points of the ballet, showing off the breadth of male talent in the company.

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Musical Kaleidoscope

Neumeier has set his “biography of the soul” to a collage of music from great composers: Chopin, Shostakovich, Rimsky-Korsakov, Schumann. As well as an emotional journey and a grand spectacle, this will be a feast for the ears.

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John Neumeier in rehearsal. Photo Kate Longley.

Neumeier: Master Storyteller

The story ballet is enjoying a renaissance, and one of its principal proponents is John Neumeier. The director of Hamburg Ballet since 1973, Neumeier studied literature and danced at Stuttgart Ballet under the direction of John Cranko – both excellent preparations for his prolific career as a maker of story ballets inspired by great writers (his ballets include The Lady of the Camellias, Death in Venice and A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as several works based on Shakespeare). He is also one of the world’s foremost Nijinsky experts and has made three ballets based on his life.