Vaslav Nijinsky was the man who changed the ballet forever.
Breaking free from tight, classical choreography, he brought a sensuality and feverishness to dance and gave male dancers a spotlight hitherto reserved for the prima ballerina.
Director of the Hamburg Ballet, and master of the contemporary story ballet, John Neumeier has choreographed this magnificent work, and the Australian Ballet is overjoyed to be able to present it to Australian audiences.
The piece opens in the Swiss hotel where, in 1919, Nijinsky gave his last, public performance, as he fell rapidly into mental illness. As he dances for the assembled bourgeoisie, we travel with him through his memories, peppered with madness, passion and impossibly transcendent dance.
This is truly a tour-de-force for the male dancers of Australian ballet, with the role of Vaslav taken by Kevin Jackson and Callum Linnane, on alternate nights. But fear not: there is also plenty of ballerina action and some extraordinary pas-de-deux, both male-female and male-male.
Music is an amalgam of works to which Nijinsky danced, with pieces from Chopin, Schumann and Rimsky-Korsakov, amongst others, played by the always reliable Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Costume, set and lighting design, also by Neumeier, interplay beautifully, and are also a tribute to some of the original Ballets Russes designers such as Leon Bakst.
This is one of the most exciting projects undertaken by the Australian Ballet in recent years, and one which will appeal to the seasoned balletomane and the newbie. Consequently, it is selling out fast, so don’t hesitate!
Nijinsky opens tonight at 7.30 at Festival Theatre, then plays Saturday 15th at 1.30 and 7.30, Monday 17th at 6.30 and Tuesday 18th at 7.30.
There is also an opportunity to sit in on a morning class with the company, on Tuesday 18th.
Article by Tracey Korsten
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