Vaslav Nijinski (1889-1950)

Vaslav Nijinski (1889–1950) is said to be one of the greatest male dancers of the early 1900s. His ability to leap, jump, and turn left Parisian audiences breathless and contributed greatly to a renewed interest in ballet dancing in France. He joined Diaghileff’s Ballet Russe in 1911 and was the featured male soloist in the company. In addition to being an accomplished technical dancer, Nijinski also contributed to the company with his own choreography. He explored movements in new ways that were not seen before and was a prelude to the modern dance movement that was to follow in the 1920s. Two of his dance works, Afternoon of a Faun and The Rite of Spring, were very controversial for the time and were not widely accepted. Now we realize he was ahead of his time in terms of creating new, modern movement for ballet.

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