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Nijinsky, Vaslav (1890-1950)

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Vaslav Nijinsky, Russian ballet dancer and choreographer.

Vaslav Nijinsky was born in Kiev, March 12, 1888, while his parents, dancers Eleonora Bereda and Foma Nijinsky were on tour. He entered the Imperial School in St. Petersburg in 1898, and upon graduation in 1907 became a soloist with the Mariinsky Theatre.
He was short and stocky, and offstage, shy and reserved, yet the public adored him. Nijinsky moved in the aristocratic society of St. Petersburg. At a party he met Sergei Diaghilev, and under the influence of Diaghilev's strong personality, he soon became his lover and protege.

Diaghilev dictated Vaslav's every move, both on and offstage. He made sure that Nijinsky read the right books, and went to museums, concerts and art galleries. During his vacation Nijinsky went to Paris with his mentor and danced the leading roles in Le Pavillion d'Armida and Les Sylphides with Anna Pavlova in 1909.

He also was the first to dance the leading roles in Petrouchka, Les Sylphides, Scheherazade, and The Spectre of the Rose, all choreographed by Fokine, and The Afternoon of a Faun (1912) and Till Eulenspiegel (1916), which he himself choreographed. Nijinsky, often considered the greatest male dancer of the 20th century, was noted for his jete and elevation. His relationship with Diaghilev was stormy, ending bitterly when the dancer married Romola de Pulszky, a Hungarian dancer.

In 1919 Nijinsky's career was abruptly terminated by insanity. He lived in retirement in England and Switzerland until he died. He is buried in Paris at the Sacre Coeur cemetery, beside the graves of Gaetano Vestris, Theophile Gautier, and Emma Livry.

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