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One-man show explores how Nijinsky elevated ballet, then crashed

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One-man show explores how Nijinsky elevated ballet, then crashed


One-man show explores how Nijinsky elevated ballet, then crashed

CHUCK GRAHAM
Published: 03.05.2009
Before Michael Jordan there was Vaslav Nijinsky.

Ballet history is full of stories about how Nijinsky could hang in the air for what seemed like forever. He leaped . . . he stayed up there . . . end of story.

But the story does have another side. In Russia at the beginning of the 1900s, the main role of male ballet dancers was to lift the female dancers, to hold these petite tutu princesses high enough for the most dramatic display of the female form.

The flamboyant Nijinsky, with all that leaping ability, wasn't content to be just another lifter. He wanted to upstage the ladies, get some spotlight time of his own. In 1910, he shocked European audiences with his performance as the Wind King Vayou. He was 20.
Just nine years later, he would become a patient at a mental asylum in Switzerland.

"Nijinsky was the first male da…