The Australian Ballet

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The soaring rise and tragic fall of a ballet legend

  • Melbourne | Adelaide | Sydney


  • Duration

    145 mins / 1 Interval

Celebrity, visionary, muse: Vaslav Nijinsky changed dance forever with his explosive leap and his shockingly sensual choreography, before a dark descent into madness ended his career.

John Neumeier, one of the greatest living choreographers of the story ballet and director of the acclaimed Hamburg Ballet, charts Nijinsky’s rise and fall through the vivid memories unfolding in the dancer’s mind during his last performance in a Swiss hotel. He recalls his troubled family, his ill-starred romances and the transcendent performances that brought him fame.

The ballet is a tour de force for the whole company, but especially the male dancers, who are given the opportunity to evoke Nijinsky’s distinctive style amid sets and costumes inspired by the exotic glamour of the Ballets Russes.

Both a moving tribute and a spectacular piece of theatre, Nijinsky will transport you inside the mind of a genius – and to extremes of anguish and ecstasy.

Packs a solid emotional punch

Her­ald Sun

Powerful performances across the board

The Age

Watch the trailer

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Production credits


Choreography John Neumeier
Music Frédéric Chopin Prelude No. 20, Robert Schumann “Carnival” Op. 26, 1st Movement, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov “Scheherazade” Op. 35, 1st, 3rd and 4th movements, Dimitri Shostakovich Sonata
for Viola and Piano Op. 147, 3rd movement,
“Eleventh Symphony” Op. 103
Costume, set and lighting design John Neumeier, based partly on original sketches by Léon Bakst and Alexandre Benois

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The Parisians dubbed Nijinsky “le dieu de la danse” — the God of Dance. And he was worshipped like a rock star: avid fans stole his underwear from his dressing room while he was performing. Here he is as the Blue God in Fokine’s ballet of the same name.

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Photography by Jeff Busby

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Nijinsky’s sensual choreography both delighted and shocked his audiences. In Afternoon of a Faun, the lead character sports amorously with nymphs and entwines himself suggestively with a veil.

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In about 1919, Nijinsky began to unravel, succumbing to the mental illness that would ruin his career. He gave his last public performance at a hotel in Switzerland; he began it by sitting in a chair and glaring at the discomfited audience for half an hour.