Bronislava Nijinska

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Bronislava Nijinska
Bronislava Nijinska.jpg
Native name Бронисла́ва Фоми́нична Нижи́нская
Born Bronislava Fominichna Nizhinskaya
(1891-01-08)January 8, 1891
Minsk, Russian Empire
Died February 21, 1972(1972-02-21) (aged 81)
Pacific Palisades, California
Occupation ballet dancer, choreographer, ballet teacher
Spouse(s) Alexandre Kochetovsky
Nicholas Singaevsky
Children Leo Kochetovsky, Irina Nijinska
Relatives Vaslav Nijinsky (brother)
Awards National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame, 1994

Bronislava Nijinska (Polish: Bronisława Niżyńska; Russian: Бронисла́ва Фоми́нична Нижи́нская, Bronislava Fominichna Nizhinskaya, Belarusian: Браніслава Ніжынская); (January 8, 1891 [O.S. December 27, 1890] — February 21, 1972) was a Polish dancer, choreographer, and teacher.[1] In 1908 after years of formal ballet training in the Russian capital Sankt Peterburg, she became an 'Artist of the Imperial Theatres'. Yet Nijinska played a pioneering role in the movement that diverged from 19th-century Classicism. The introduction of modern form and motion, and a minimalist narrative, set the stage for the neoclassical ballet works to come.[2]

An early breakthrough came in 1910, when for her solo Nijinska created the role of Papillon in Carnaval, a ballet designed by Fokine and staged by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. In the early 1920s she became the sole choreographer for this famous ballet company.[3] She continued to design ballets and mount stage performances in Europe and the Americas during the 1930s. In the 1940s she settled in Los Angeles, where she taught dance and acted as a consultant. Her Early Memoirs were translated into English and published posthumously.

Her brother was Vaslav Nijinsky (Wacław Niżyński).


Early life[edit]

Bronislava Nijinska, the third child of the Polish dancers Tomasz Nijinsky[4] and Eleonora Nijinska (maiden name Bereda), was born in Minsk but all three children were baptized in Warsaw. Bronlslava was the younger sister of Vaslav Nijinsky, the renowned ballet star.

A family of dancers[edit]

Each of their parents had begun dancing careers in Warsaw at the Teatr Wielki. When they later met each had already become a ballet professional with the Setov troupe based in Kiev, which performed at theaters of provincial capitals in the then Russian Empire. They were married in Baku. Tomasz, five years younger, had risen to be premier danseur and ballet master. His wife Eleonora, orphaned at seven, had followed her elder sister into ballet, and now danced as a first soloist.[5]

Her father Tomasz Nijinsky, using his abilities as a ballet master, came to manage his own small troupe of a dozen dancers, plus students. For example, in 1896 he staged the Fountain of Bakhchisarai a ballet pantomime in Circus-Theaters, using Polish and Russian music. Her mother Eleonora danced the role of a captured princess. Tomasz choreographed "two very successful ballets" namely Fountains of Bakhchisara and Zaporozbeskaya Tcharovnitza. Nijinska implies that their small troupe made money, but that is disputed.[6] In addition to renting out theaters, he contracted to perform at Café Chantants, popular night-spots where patrons dined while being entertained with music and dance. At work and at home the family was surrounded by artists. Her father "loved to be with painters, writers, actors, and musicians."[7]

In the past Tomasz had forgone opportunities, turning down dance offers because of his family. In 1897 near Sankt Peterburg, Eleonora and Thomasz danced on stage together for the last time. He continued on the road as a dancer. On a prior trip to Finland, he had became involved with a fellow dancer. It led to separation from his wife, and the dissolution of his marriage. Eleonora soon established permanent residence in Sankt Peterburg for her three children, after years of continual travel. Bronislava records that her brother Vaslav (or Vatsa) became bitter and years latter turned against his father for the pain his mother endured.[8][9]

Her brother Vatsa[edit]

Her brother Vaslav Nijinsky
and Bronislava Nijinska,
sculpture by Giennadij Jerszow,
the Grand Theatre, Warsaw

"By nature Vaslav [Vatsa] was a very lively and adventurous boy." In her book Early Memoirs Nijinska writes about many of the childhood adventures of Vatsa, her older brother by 22 months. Living with a mother and father who regularly danced on stage, the children acquired a attitude that encouraged a physical prowess in everyday life. The parents basically encouraged their children's progress, and while scolding misbehavior were not punitive. Curious, Vatsa was driven to explore his surroundings despite parential wishes. His bravery and daring on rooftops impressed Broni.

"How Vatsa loved to climb! Whenever he was at the top of a tree, on a high post, on the swing, or on the roof of our house, I noticed a rapturous delight on his face, a delight to feel his body high above the ground, suspended in midair."

Vatsa proved fearless when investigating the strange streets of different towns and cities where the family's theatrical life took them. He trained his body which became an instrument of extraordinary strength and balance. He enjoyed this freedom to explore and develop. His mind grew innovative and daring. Vatsa often invited Broni, who sometimes accompanied him. From Vatsa's adventures she acquired early skills useful for a dancer.[10]

Childhood dance skills[edit]

Her parents not only were continually dancing in theatrical productions, they also taught ballroom dancing to adults and had special dance classes for children, including their own. From an early age they instructed their daughter in folk dances: Polish, Hungarian, Italian, and Russian. She learned ballet together with all kinds of dancing. She picked up some acrobatic techniques from her father, who sometimes worked adjacent to circus performers. Later she was able to draw on this rich experience in her choreographic works.[11][12]

Enrico Cecchetti,
St. Petersburg, c.1900

Broni Nijinska was not quite four when she made her theatrical debut in a Christmas pageant with her brothers in Nizhny Novgorod. She'd grow familiar with being on stage. Joining her brothers she trained to dance and act in children's dance productions, or to make brief appearances on the adult stage. Her aunt Stepha, her mothers older sister, had retired from performance but was teaching dance in Vilno; she helped Broni. Dancers who knew her parents would give her lessons or tips, e.g., Louis Chalif, Maria Giuri, Vladimir Dourov, Mikhail Lentovsky. After their parents' separation, her brother Vaslav Nijinsky entered the Imperial Theatrical School. When about nine years old, Broni began ballet lessons with the famous Enrico Cecchetti who quickly recognized her skills.[13]

Imperial Theatrical School[edit]

In 1900, following two years after Vaslav her brother, Bronislava Nijinska was accepted into the same state-sponsored school for performing arts in Sankt Peterburg. It was a years-long program. As with Vaslav's acceptance, her mother enlisted support from various ballet people, including Stanilas Gillert and Cecchetti. 214 candidates had appeared at the entrance examination to demonstrate their dance abilities, with legendary ballet master Marius Petipa present. Twelve girls were accepted.

Bronislava graduated in 1908, taking 'First Award' for achievement both in academic subjects and in dance. Seven women graduated that year. She was also enlisted as an 'Artist of the Imperial Theatre' which assured her a secure and privileged life as a professional dancer.[14][15]

Career as a dancer[edit]

Maryinsky Theater in Sankt Peterburg[edit]

In 1908, Nijinsky was admitted to the Imperial Ballet (then also known as the Mariinsky Ballet and later known as the Kirov Ballet) following in her brother's footsteps.[16] In her first year, she performed in Fokine's Les Sylphides Here she directly experienced Fokine's choreographic vision. Both she and Nijinsky left Russia in the summers of 1909 and 1910 to perform for Diaghilev's company in Paris..[17]

Nijinska danced with the Maryinsky Ballet for three years. She resigned after the dismissal of her brother Vaslav, chiefly for his performing in Paris. As a result, Nijinska was deprived of her right to use the title 'Artist of the Imperial Theaters' and its associated privileges.[18]

Diaghlev and 'Ballets Russes' 1909-1913[edit]

Nijinska appeared in the Sergei Pavlovitch Diaghilev's first two Paris seasons, 1909 and 1910. After leaving the Maryinsky, she became a permanent member of his newly formed company, Ballets Russes.

Of her brother Vaslav Nijinsky[edit]

painting of a ballet performance on stage
'Ballet Russes' by August Macke, 1912

It is argued that Bronislava Nijinska's brother Vaslav Nijinsky had the greatest influence on her. In Nijinska’s memoir, she speaks of the overwhelming curiosity Vaslav possessed from a young age. His low performance in school is recorded; Nijinska attributes this to his disinterest and impatience. He instead wanted to explore the world and test his physical limits. He became an incredible dancer. At Mariinsky Theater and at Ballets Russes, too, Vaslav quickly rose. Soon Vaslav was performing as principal dancer.[19][20]

"As his pupil she became the first person to know and be influenced by his radically new ideas regarding dance and his desire to substitute a rigorously stylized form of movement for the classical ballet tradition."[21]

She describes his innovations in creating a new Blue Bird role for the ballet The Sleeping Princess in 1907: how he changed the restrictive costume, and energized the movements. When Nijinsky created "L'Après-midi d'un Faune" [Afternoon of the Faun] in 1912 he used Nijinska to rehearse it in secret, to follow with her body his description of the steps one by one. She similarly assisted him in creating Le Sacre du Printemps [Rite of Spring]. Due to her pregnancy Nijinska withdrew from the part of the Chosen Maiden.[22] It was during a 1913 South American tour that Nijinsky controversially married Romola de Pulszky. If Nijinska had been on tour, it might have been different. She explains in her memoirs that Vaslav was very reserved and, other than herself, had few close colleagues or collaborators in the dance world.[23]

"Although Bronislave Nijinska is often identified as the sister of the celebrated Vaslav Nijinsky, she was a major artist in her own right and a key figure in the development of twentieth-century ballet.[24]

Bronislava's roles as a Dancer[edit]

Nijinska in Petrouchka, Fokine's choreography. Ballets Russes, 1913

Nijinska danced initially in the corps de ballet of Ballets Russes. As she developed, her early roles included Papillon in “Carnaval” and the Ballerina Doll in “Petruchka”.[25] Her brother helped her create the role of Papillon in Fokine's Carnaval. The role of the Ballerina Doll in Petruchka she transformed, modernizing it by a realistic approach. She changed the demeanor to be more street normal, and kept in character rather than resuming the classical ballet look. In Cleopatra, at first she danced the Bacchanale, then she got the role of Ta-Hor. As she followed his dancing instructions, she assisted her brother Vaslav in his creation of the Chosen Maiden role in Rites of Spring. Yet her pregnancy required that she withdraw before the opening performance.[26]

About her qualities as a dancer generally, several professionals have commented. "She was a very strong dancer, and danced very athletically for a lady, and had a big jump," commented dancer and ballet master Frederic Franklin. "She had incredible endurance, and seemed never to be tired," recalled Anatole Vilzak, who worked with her in the 1920s and 1930s. Lydia Sokolova thought her "a most unfeminine woman, though there was nothing particularly masculine about her character. Thin but immensely strong, she had iron muscles in her arms and legs, and her highly developed calf muscles resembled Vaslav's; she had the same way of jumping and pausing in the air." Alicia Markova concluded that Nijinska "was a strange combination, this terrific strength, and yet there was a softness."[27]

'Saison Nijinsky' in London 1914[edit]

Nijinska had left the Ballet Russes. She elected to follow her brother Vaslav after Diaghilev dismissed him from the company over artistic quarrels, his military draft status, his September, 1913, marriage in Buenos Aires, and his demand for payments in arrears.[28]

In early 1914 Vaslav, with Bronislava's assistance, started a new ballet company in London: Saison Nijinsky. Only a short time was allowed for the preparations required for the theatrical production to open in March. Nijinska traveled to Russia to recruit dancers, and herself performed leading roles in the show. It's anticipated premier was well received, with Vaslav's brilliant dancing drawing prolonged applause. After two weeks of performances, however, a business dispute with the theater owner led to the cancellation of the company's season.[29][30] Some attributed the downfall of the company to Vaslav’s erratic emotional tendencies.


Petrograd, her first choreographies[edit]

At the start of World War I, Nijinska, her husband Aleksandr Kochtovsky (married in 1912), and their infant daughter Nina returned to Petrograd (the Russian capital's new name). They both became leading dancers at the Petrograd Private Opera Theatre. In 1915 Nijinska produced her first choreographies: Le Poupée [The Doll], and Autumn Song. These creations were for her solo performances at the Narodny Dom Theatre.[31]

She was twenty-five. The 1915 program described her as "the celebrated prima ballerina-artist of the State Ballet". The music for her creation Autumn Song was by Tchaikovsky, and Liadov for The Doll. On that program at the Narodny Dom [People's House] were also ballets choreographed by Michel Fokine of Ballets Russes, danced by Nijinska and her husband. Her choreography for Autumn Song, "the more important" of her two solos, "owed a debt to Fokine".[32]

Kiev, her 'Ecole du Mouvement'[edit]

Alexandra Exter.

In 1916 the family moved to Kiev. Her husband became ballet master at the State Opera Theater. They both worked there staging divertissements and ballets. In 1917 Nijinska began teaching at several institutions: the State Conservatory of Music, Central State Ballet Studio, the Yiddish Cultural Center Drama Studio, and the Ukrainian Drama School.[33] She also met the artist Alexandra Exter a constructivist visual designer. They began a fruitful collaboration on various production projects which would continue after both independently moved from Kiev to Paris.[34]

Her "theoretical speculations" about modern ballet apparently began to crystallize. During a brief trip to Moscow shortly after the October Revolution, Nijinska started her treatise: The School of Movement (Theory of Choreography). It was published in 1920 but has become lost to posterity, like much of the dance designs she created in Kiev. A 1930 essay, however, recapitulates its key ideas: "On movement and the school of movement".[35][36][37]

"It is in this essay that she documents her search for a new means of expression based on the extension of the classical vocabulary of dance steps."[38]

In February, 1919, she opened a school in Kiev called L'Ecole de Mouvement [School of Movement]. This was shortly after giving birth to her son Léon. Her training philosophy focused on preparing dancers to work with innovative choreographers such as her brother Vaslav. She asked for flowing movement, free use of the torso, and a quickness in linking steps.[39]

Under the aegis of the school she gave solo dance concerts. They included "her first plotless ballet compositions": Mephisto Valse (1919), and Twelfth Rhapsody (1920). These may be "the first abstract ballets" of the 20th century.[40]

Diaghilev's 'Ballets Russes' 1921-1925[edit]

Choreographer of the company[edit]

In 1921, Nijinska was asked by Diaghilev to return to Ballet Russes, this time as a choreographer. Diaghilev had learned that Nijinska had staged Petipa's Swan Lake in Kiev, Ukraine in 1919.[41] She was in line to be the Company's first and only female choreographer, as well as principal dancer, and ballet mistress.[42] Yet he was uncertain of her ability, and was determined to first assign her specific tasks to test her work.

As events unfolded, Ballets Russes became faced with a practical problems in finance concerning the London production of the ballet The Sleeping Princess. In consequence, Nijinska under Diaghilev's direction reworked parts of the ballet, turning the traditional, but unprofitable, three-act version into a viable one-act affair, entitled Aurora's Wedding.[43]

La Belle au bois dormant, then called The Sleeping Princess (1921)[edit]
The wicked fairy Carabosse by Léon Bakst, who created 300 costume designs for Diaghilev's lavish 1921 London production of The Sleeping Beauty.

This ballet, most often called now The Sleeping Beauty, was "one of the great Petipa classics from the old Imperial Russian repertory, La Belle au bois dormant [The beauty in woods asleep]." Based on a French fairy tale of that name by Charles Perrault, its music was by Tchaikovsky. In 1921 Diaghilev had revived the Petipa choreography in three acts. "Additional choreography was provided by Bronislava Nijinska," e.g., the rousing hopak for the Three Ivans.[44][45] Leon Bakst designed the sets which "were of surpassing grandeur and magnificence and no expense was spared... ."[46][47]

Yet Nijinska was arriving in London from "Russia in revolution". She wrote that the Diaghilev's revival of The Sleeping Princess "seemed to me an absurdity, a dropping into the past". Instead she preferred the pre-war Diaghilev who had been "searching for the creation of a new ballet... ." Hence she recalled that "I started my first work full of protest against myself."[48]

Aurora's Wedding, or Le Marriage d'Aurore (1922)[edit]

A ballet in one act that Nijinska assisted in creating, a miniture of the longer, three-act ballet The Sleeping Beauty. Its 1921 London production, after running three months, was not making a profit. To rescue his investment in costumes and sets Diaghilev, with the collaboration of Stravinsky and Nijinska,[49] "salvaged only a one-act ballet, which he called Aurora's Wedding." Yet it proved very popular. For decades the shorter ballet remained in the repertory.[50][51][52][53]

Les Contes de Fées [Stories of the fairies] (1925)[edit]

Les Contes de Fées is a ballet drawn from the fairy tales in Aurora's Wedding and originally seen in Act III of La Belle au bois dormant. It premiered February, 1925, in Monte Carlo.[54]

Her Ballet Creations[edit]

For Ballets Russes, Nijinska alone choreographed nine ballets in the 1920s. Six are discussed here. Romeo and Juliet (1926) is discussed later. Two are but mentioned now: and, Les Contes de Fées [fairy tales from Aurora's Wedding] (February 1925). She has minor choreography credit after Marius Petipa for two others: The Sleeping Princess (1921), and its one-act spin off Aurora's Wedding (discussed below).[55][56][57] [under construction]

Le Renard [The Fox] (1922)[edit]

Nijinska's first ballet in her new position as choreographer for Ballets Russes was Le Renard. The music composed by Stravinsky was apparently provided her by Diaghilev.[58] Nijinska, Stanislas Idzikowski, and two others were principal dancers.[59]

In her memoirs Nijinska discusses Fokine's innovative "Dance of the Fauns". There the "fauns looked like animals" which were not presented using "classical ballet" techniques, yet Fokine claimed the result conformed to the "animal characteristics of the dance." Nijinska then makes this comment:

"I, who always spoke against the use of acrobatics in the ballet, made use of somersaults in my very first ballet, Stravinsky's Le Renard (1922). But there was no contradiction. I did not use those steps as a trick but to achieve an artistic aim."[60]

Mavra (1922)[edit]

An opera of Stravinsky, Mavra was choreographed by Nijinska,[61] perhaps its ballet scenes.

Les Noces [The Wedding] (1923)[edit]
Igor Stravinsky in Paris,
by Picasso, 1920.

Nijinska created the ballet Les noces (or Svadebka in its original Russian title) as a ballet depicting a peasant wedding.[62] Igor Stravinsky composed both the words taken from Russian wedding songs, and the music in a cantata form for chorus, solo voices, and "an orchestra of percussion, dominated by four pianos." It conjured a "deeply moving evocation" of events surrounding a marriage ceremony. The minimalist visual designs were by Natalia Goncharova, the color scheme being "earthen gold, blue grey, and black." Strains of feminism can be seen throughout the work, according to Greskovic, as Les noces highlights the obligation of marriage and a bride who appears devoid of emotion.[63][64]

Dance academic and critic Lynn Garafola, discusses the 1920s competitors of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. She notes that Ballets suédois (Swedish ballet) led by Rolf de Maré had "largely succeeded in edging Diaghilev to the sidelines of avant-garde Paris." Nonetheless Garafola also admired the ballet Le Renard that Nijinska had earlier created for Diaghilev. She continues:

"[I]t was only in 1923 that Diaghilev staged a modernist masterpiece that transcended the best of his rival's offerings. Les Noces, probably the greatest dance work of the decade, teamed three of his closest Russian collaborators: Stravinsky, his 'first son', as composer; Natalia Goncharova, as designer; and Bronislava Nijinska, as choreographer."[65]

"Bronislava Nijinska's Les noces [grew] out of boldness of conception without regard for precedent or consequences," wrote John Martin, dance critic for The New York Times.[66] Nijinska herself wrote about Noces: "I was informed as a choreographer [by my brother's ballets] Jeux and Le Sacre du Printemps. The unconscious art of those ballets inspired my initial work."[67]

Nijinska researched ethnological studies of the peasant customs of Russia. Yet satified Diaghilev when she directed the women dancers to wear pointe shoes, in order to elongate their silhouettes to resemble Russian icons. The sound of pointe shoes jabbing the ground gives power to the dancing. The movements of Nijinska's groupings of women is very frontal and largely in unison. For part of the dance, they are connected by long braids of the bride’s hair, exaggerated in size, as if the women were "sailors taking up the mooring lines of a boat." The whole piece, tethered to an ancient folk tradition, has an overwhelming sense of control and conformity.[68]

"Les Noces was Nijinska's answer to Sacre" created by her brother Vaslav, writes Jennifer Homans. "It was a reenactment of a Russian peasant wedding: not a joyous occasion but a foreboding social ritual in which feelings were strictly contained and limited by ceremonial forms." Nijinska here followed Stravinsky to find an escape from her brother's nihilism "through the formal beauty and discipline of the Orthodox liturgy." Yet it was "a modern tragedy, a complicated and very Russian drama that celebrated authority" yet showed its "brutal effect on the lives of individuals."[69][70]

Les Tentations de la Bergère [Temptations of the shepherdess] (1924)[edit]

This one-act ballet featured baroque music composed by Michel de Montéclair (1667-1737), recently orchestrated by Henri Casadesus, with sets, costumes, and curtain by Juan Gris.[71][72] It opened in Monte Carlo.

In the mid-1920s "a significant part of the Ballet Russes repertory turned away from modernism and themes of contemporary life," including Les Tentations de la Bergère.[73] This ballet and the ballet Les Fâcheux were "two works produced by the Ballets Russes during the 1920s that focused on themes related to eighteenth-century France. These productions were rooted in France’s post-World War I fascination with bygone monarchies and court life." An alternative title is L'Amour Vainqueur [Love Victorious].[74]

Les Biches [The Does, or The Hinds] (1924), also called The House Party[edit]
head and shoulder shot of young man looking towards the camera
Poulenc (early 1920s).
Marie Laurencin (1912)

Les biches[75] depicts a house party. It was danced to music by Francis Poulenc, original libretto by Jean Cocteau, scenery and costumes by Marie Laurencin. The opening 1924 cast at the Théâtre de Monte Carlo included Anton Dolin, and also Ninette de Valois. Several English-speaking ballet companies elected to change the title for their production, i.e., The House Party or The Gazelles.[76] Yet the French means female deer, or more colloquially in reference to young girls, "the little darlings".[77]

The role of the house party's hostess was originally played by Nijinska herself. The ballet has a 'romantic' theme rather than a plot. The characters are dancers. The hostess is an older woman, her guests are younger: twelve girls and three boys. The ballet has eight parts in sequence, each with a different dance music. The young guests flirt, or take no notice, or play dance games in a setting filled with social satire and ambiguous sexuality. The hostess is dressed in yellow, and brandishes a cigarette holder. Balanchine comments that she seems driven to remain in motion, and unable to image herself alone. The ballet was well received by the Parisian audience.[78] In the role of the yellow-clad hostess, Nijinska

"flew round the stage, performing amazing contortions of her body, beating her feet, sliding backwards and forwards, screwing her face into an abandoned attitude on the sofa. She danced as the mood took her and was brilliant."[79]

In Les Biches, writes Garafola, Nijinska "cracked open the gender codes of classical style, transforming a piece of twenties chic into a critique of sexual mores." The decor was designed by cubist painter Marie Laurencin, chosen by Diaghilev because her art had "the same ambiguous blend of innocence and corruption" as the ballet. It opens in a flood of pink light that is "voluptuously feminine" with the drop curtain in pastels: "greys, blues, salmons, mauves". Here are "explored a host of taboo themes-narcissism, voyeurism, female sexual power, castration, sapphism". Diaghilev disapproved of its pessimism, its sour look at gender relations. Portrayed here is a femininity "only skin-deep, a subterfuge applied like make-up, a construction elaborated over time by men, not an innnate female property." The usual "male bravura dance" is exposed as pretentious. The ballet "divorces the appearance of love from its reality." Les Biches, concludes Garafola, reveals Nijinska's "unease with traditional representations of femininity."[80]

Les Fâcheux [The Mad, or The Bores] (1924)[edit]
Playwright Molière
by Mignard (ca. 1658).

fr:Les Fâcheux was originally a three-act ballet comedy, written by the French playwright, librettist, and actor, known by his stage name Molière (1622-1673). It opened in 1661, with baroque music by Pierre Beauchamp and Jean-Baptiste Lully.[81][82] Without a plot, characters appear, do a monologue, then exit never to return. "Molière's hero Éraste [is] continually hindered by well-meaning bores while on his way to visit his lady love."[83] Adopted for Ballets Russes, the music was by Georges Auric, with scenery designed by Georges Braque,[84] libretto by Jean Cocteau after Molière, choreography by Nijinska.[85][86]

Georges Auric was associated with fellow French composers Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, and Arthur Honegger, part of a group called Les Six. French writer Jean Cocteau courted the group as representing a new approach to the arts, including poetry and painting. Ballets suédois in the early 1920s commissioned members of Les Six to compose music for its dance productions. Ballets Russes followed suit. Some 1920s music critics dismissed Les Six compositions as musiquette. But current critic Lynn Garafola sees in ballet revivals like Les Fâcheux that employ their music a "gaiety and freshness" in their "unpretentious tunes and depiction of everyday life" and Garafola appreciates "the independence of the music in relation to the choreography."[87][88]

Ballets Russes dancer Lydia Lopokova, however, about Nijinska's ballet Les Fâcheux and similar works, commented that it was smooth and professional, but nothing or no one moved her. She longed for very old-fashioned ballets without abstract ideas, with simplicity and poetry. "Massine and Nijinska choreography clever as it is have too much intellect," she felt.[89]

La Nuit sur le Mont chauve [Night on Bald Mountain] (1924)[edit]

The ballet premiered in April, 1924, in Monte Carlo, with principal dancers Lydia Sokolova and Michel Fedorov. The choreography by Nijinska was set to the music of a work that was being composed by Modest Mussorgsky in years prior to his death in 1881. This was his unfinished opera Sorochintsy yarmarka [The Fair at Sorochintsy]. The opera contained a 'ballet act'.[90] Its libretto was written by Mussorgsky himself, based on Nikolai Gogol's short story of the same name.

Yet the music here is nonetheless that from another score of his, La Nuit sur le Mont chauve (1867). Mussorgsky had incorporated the music of this 'symphonic poem' into his unfinished opera, music that was later orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov. Night on Bald Mountain was also inspired by a story by Gogol, St. John's Eve.[91]

Designers then were experimenting "with costumes that 'reconstructed' the body, transforming its natural shape." For Night on Bald Mountain, Nijinska's sketches "show elongated, arc-like forms." The costumes that Alexandra Exter actually designed "were lighter, leaner, more elegant."[92]

Le Train Bleu [The Blue Train] (1924)[edit]
Dolin in 1939 staging
of The Prodigal Son.

The ballet Le train blue has been called a 'danced operetta'. Darius Milhaud composed the music, with the ballet libretto by Jean Cocteau (writer also of Les Bishes). Costumes, including "bathing costumes of the period", were by 'Coco' Chanel, with scenery by Henri Laurens. The cast: a handsome kid (Anton Dolin), a bathing belle (Lydia Sokolova), a golfer (Leon Woizikowski), and a tennis player (Nijinska).[93][94]

Jean Cocteau, portrait
by Marie Laurencin, 1921

The Cocteau libretto has a thin plot. Its title refers to the actual Train Bleu, whose destination was Côte d'Azur, a fashionable resort area, specifically Monte Carlo. "The Blue Train used to bring the beau monde down to the south from Paris... ." Diaghilev remarked, "The first point about Le train bleu is that there is no Blue Train in it." The scenario "took place on a beach, where pleasure-seekers disported themselves." Inspired in part by youth "showing off" with "acrobatic stunts", the ballet "was a smart piece about a fashionable plage" [beach].[95][96]

"Nijinska created a special ambiance through the language of dance, she introduced angular and geometrical movements and organized dancers on stage as interactive groups, that alluded to images of sports activities, such as golf, tennis and recreational games on a beach."[97]

The ballet probably suffered when the supposed collaboration between Nijinska and librettist Cocteau quickly collapsed. Issues contested included gender (Cocteau entertaining a "dim view of women" versus Nijinska's unease with traditional femininity), story and gesture verses 'abstract ballet' (Cocteau favored substituting out dance for pantomime), and the changing aesthetics of dance (Cocteau favoring acrobatics over dance, which for Nijinska was a delicate series of judgments). Garafola further opines that "Only Nijinska had the technical wherewithal... to wrest irony from the language and traditions of [classical dance]."[98]

Le train bleu anticipated the 1933 ballet Beach. "Massine's choreography, like Nijinska's, was a stylization of sport motifs and different dance idioms within a structured balletic framework." The athletic dance scenes incorporated jazz movements.[99]

Companies and ballets 1925-1940[edit]

1925 marked Nijinska's departure from Ballet Russes. George Balanchine then filled the choreographer position. Nijinska continued to choreograph in a freelance capacity, working for ballet companies and institutions in Europe, South America, and the United States. She also several times formed a ballet company of her own.[100][101]

'Théâtre Chorégraphiques' in Paris: Le Guignol[edit]

Guignol de Lyon.

In 1925 Nijinska formed her own ballet company: Théâtre Chorégraphiques Nijinska. She employed eleven dancers, and arranged for the Russian avant-garde visual artist Alexandra Exter to design the costumes for the ballet productions. She had first met Exter in Kiev during the war and revolution, a contact that continued into the early 1920s when she choreographed for Ballets Russes. For the 1925 summer season, her company toured English resort towns and provincial cities. It then performed selections in Paris.[102][103]

Nijinska choreographed six short ballets for her company: Holy Etudes, The Sports and Touring Ballet Revue, Savage Jazz, On the Road, Le Guignol [a character in a French puppet show], Night on Bald Mountain.[104] Le Guignol with music by Lanner was latter performed in 1926 at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.[105]

'Théâtre de l'Opéra' in Paris: Bien Aimée [Beloved][edit]

A one-act ballet, music by Schubert and Liszt, libretto and decor by Benois, with Rubinstein and Vilzak dancing the Nijinska choreography, staged in 1928. The thin plot has a poet reminiscing at the piano about his departed Muse, and his youth. The ballet was revived by the Markova-Dolan company in 1937. The Ballet Theater in New York City had Nijinska stage its American premier in 1941/1942.[106]

Also at the Paris Opera, in 1924 Nijinska choreographed the ballet La Rencontres [The Encounters], libretto by Kochno, music by Sauguet. Oedipus meets the Sphinx in a circus.[107]

Diaghilev's 'Ballets Russes' in Monte Carlo: Romeo and Juliet[edit]

A new version of Romeo and Juliet with music by Constant Lambert premiered in 1926. The ballet impressed Massine, who saw it later in London. "Nijinska's choreography was an admirable attempt to express the poignancy of Shakespeare's play in the most modern terms." At the end, the leading dancers Karsavina and Lifar, lovers in real life, "eloped in an aeroplane". Max Ernst did design work, Balanchine an entr'acte. "It seemed to me that this ballet was far in advance of its time," Massine later wrote.[108][109]

'Teatro Colón' in Buenos Aires: Etude Bach, Le Baiser de la Fée[edit]

A 1935 gala premiere
at Teatro Colón.

Nijinska became choreographic director and principal dancer with Teatro Colón in 1926, an association that would endure until 1946.[110] Years earlier in 1913, the Ballets Russes toured Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Rio de Janeiro, but Nijinska with child did not go. Her brother Nijinsky did.[111]

Nijinska created the Etude Bach in 1926, a ballet to be performed at the Teatro Colón. She drew on innovative ideas she'd first developed in Kiev during the war and the revolution.

"This abstract ballet, inspired by the spirituality of the music, was choreographed to an arrangement of the six Brandenburg Concertos and was the first ballet to be mounted to the music of J. S. Bach."[112][113]

In 1927 for Teatro Colón (Columbus Theater), Nijinska directed ballet choreography that had been created by Fokine during the early years of Ballets Russes: Daphnis et Chloë, music composed by Maurice Ravel, and Petrouchka, music by Igor Stravinsky.[114]

In 1933 she presented at Teatro Colón her ballet Le Baiser de la Fée [Kiss of the fairy], first staged for Ida Rubinstein's Company in 1928. It was based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale The Ice-Maiden. Yet, putting positive spin on the tale, music composer Igor Stravinsky changed the eerie maiden into a fruitful Muse, inverting Anderson's original story in which the ice-maiden, disguised as a beautiful woman, attracts young men who are led to their death.[115] In 1937 Nijinska returned to Buenos Aires for its reprise performance at the Stravinsky Festival.[116][117]

'Ida Rubinstein Ballet' in Paris: Boléro, Le Baiser de la Fée[edit]

Rubinstein in 1922

Ida Rubinstein formed a ballet company in 1928, with Nijinska as the choreographer. Rubinstein quickly arranged for Maurice Ravel to compose music for her new company. By luck or genius, one of Ravel's pieces became immediately popular and famous, and has remained so: his Boléro. Nijinska choreographed for Rubinstein the original Boléro ballet. In it she created an ambient scene where a large circular platform, center stage, is surrounded by various individual dancers. At times attention may be drawn to the side where several begin to dance. The movements inspired by Spanish dance are yet abbreviated, stylized.[118][119]

Rubinstein herself had danced for Diaghilev in the early years of his company Ballets Russes. In the 1910 ballet Shéhérazade (also by Ravel) she and Nijinska's brother Vaslav Nijinsky both had leading roles, dancing together in a scene Nijinska called "breathtaking".[120][121] Now resident in Paris, her company also performed the Nijinska-created ballet for Ravel's La valse.[122][123]

A version of the ballet Le Baiser de la Fée [Kiss of the Fairy] originated when Ida Rubinstein asked Igor Stravinsky to compose music to be choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska. It would be staged in 1928. "The idea was that I should compose something inspired by the music of Tchaikovsky," wrote Stravinsky. For a theme he chose Hans Christian Anderson's 'eerie' tale of The Ice-Maiden, to which he put a positive spin: "A fairy imprints her magic kiss on a child at birth... . Twenty year later... she repeats the fatal kiss and carries him off to live in supreme happiness with her... ." Stravinsy understood the story's fairy to be the Muse whose kiss branded Tchaikovsky with a 'magic imprint' inspiring his music. Nijinska created the choreography.[124][125]

The composer Stravinsky conducted the orchestra for the ballet's first performance at the Opéra in Paris in 1928. Le Baiser de la Fée played at other European capitals, and in 1933 at the Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires. In 1935 Ashton choreographed a new version that played in London, and in 1937 Balanchine did so for a version that played in New York.[126][127][128]

'Opéra Russe à Paris': Capriccio Espagnol[edit]

This ballet company was founded in 1925 by a Russian singer and her husband, a nephew of French composer Massenet. A company director was Wassily de Basil (the former Vassily Voskresensky, a Russian entrepreneur, and perhaps Cossack officer). Since Sergei Diaghilev's death in 1929, an discomforting void existed in the world of European ballet.[129] René Blum (brother of the French politician Léon Blum) was then "organizing the ballet seasons at the Casino de Monte Carlo." He began talks with de Basil about combining ballet operations, i.e., the naissant company 'Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo'. From de Basil would come "dancers, repertory, scenery, and costumes" and from Blum "the theater and its facilities and financial support". A contract was signed in January 1932. "From the beginning de Basil acted as impresario,"[130][131] In 1936 Blum and de Basil split, each with his own company.[132]

Nijinska had joined the company 'Opèra Russe à Paris' in 1930 "to choreograph the ballet sequences" in several operas,[133] and "to create works for the all-ballet evenings that alternated with evenings of opera." Consequently, she created the ballet for Capriccio Espagnol by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. She also staged several of her previous ballet creations (Les Noces and Les Biches) and other Ballets Russes fare of the Diaghilev era. She then turned down an "unusually generous" offer from de Basil's 'Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo' in order to start her own company, 'Ballets Nijinska'.[134]

'Théâtre de la Danse' in Paris: Hamlet, Variations[edit]

Franz Liszt, photo by Hanfstaengl, 1867

From 1932 to 1934 Nijinska directed her own Paris-based company, Théâtre de la Danse. Previously, she had been choreographer of 'Ballets Nijinska' and directing its productions at the Opéra-Comique in Paris.[135]

In 1934 she choreographed Hamlet, based on Shakespeare's play, performed to music by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Nijinska played the title role. "Her choreography, however, instead of retelling Shakespeare's plot, emphasized the feelings of the tragedy's tormented characters."[136] Eight years later another Hamlet ballet, created by Robert Helpmann to music by Tchaikovsky, was staged in London, also not following the original plot.[137]

Another new ballet Variations had been staged in 1932 by Nijinska's company. It was an abstract or plotless ballet, inspired by the music by Ludwig van Beethoven. Also, there were performances of two of her remarkable ballets from the mid-1920s, Les Biches (aka The House Party) in 1932 and in 1933 Les Noces [The Wedding]. Nijinska's Théâtre de la Danse spent ballet seasons in Paris and Barcelona, and toured France and Italy.[138]

Nijinska then joined her dance company to Wassily de Basil's company Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. For the 1934 Opera and Ballet seasons, she directed the Monte Carlo productions of the combined companies.[139]

de Basil's 'Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo': Les Cent Baisers[edit]

Nijinska choreographed Les Cent Baisers [The hundred kisses] in 1935 for de Basil's company. This one-act ballet, with music by d'Erlanger, opened in London.[140][141] The libretto by Boris Kochno followed the fairy tale "The swineherd and the princess" by Hans Christian Anderson. Nijinska's choreography is here considered one of her more classical. Yet she incorporated subtle variations from the usual academic steps, according to Baranova who danced the role of the princess. It gave the piece a special feeling of the east.[142]

Max Reinhardt's Hollywood film: A Midsummer Night's Dream[edit]

Cast of Midsummer Night's Dream: Ross Alexander, Dick Powell,
Jean Muir and Olivia de Havilland.

In 1934 Max Reinhardt requested that Nijinska travel to Los Angeles to choreograph the dances for his 1935 film A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was a Hollywood recreation of the William Shakespeare's comedy, with music by Felix Mendelssohn. The music was probably taken from his two compositions about that very Shakespearen play. The first was his 1826 concert overture, the second his 1842 incidental music, which incorporated the overture.[143]

The Midsummer Night's Dream film was not Nijinska's first time in the employ of Max Reinhardt. The well-known impresario had staged many and various types of performance art in theaters across Europe. In 1931 in Berlin she had staged the ballet scenes for Offenbach's opera The Tales of Hoffmann.[144]

Evidently Los Angeles agreed with Nijinska, who would be living there in a few years.

'Markova-Dolin Ballet' in London: Les Biches[edit]

Nijinska staged her Les Biches in a reprise performance by the Markova-Dolin Ballet in 1937. In 1935 Alicia Markova had left the Vic-Wells ballet company of Ninette de Valois in order to "help form the Markova-Dolin Company (1935-1938), with Bronislava Nijinsky as chief choreographer." Anton Dolin, once a dance partner of Markova in Diaghilev's company, later became a choreographer for the American Ballet Theatre.[145]

Previously Nijinska had given Markova 'creative sessions' in ballet, including instructions in her choreographed dances. In particular she taught Markova her early work from Kiev Autumn Song. In 1953 Markova danced this ballet for television.[146][147]

'Ballet Polonais' in Warsaw: Concerto de Chopin[edit]

In 1937 Nijinska became the artistic director and choreographer for the Ballet Polonais (Polish Ballet). She created five new ballets for the company, including Concerto de Chopin. Its opening performance was in Paris, at the Exposition Internationale, where the Ballet Polonais was awarded the Grand Prix and Nijinska the Grand Prix for choreography. The company then performed in London, Berlin, and Warsaw; also it toured many cities in Germany and Poland.[148]

About her Chopin Concerto as performed in 1944, critic Edward Denby wrote:

The structure of the piece-like that of much of Mme Nijinska's work-is based on a formal contrast: in the background, rigid impersonal groups or clusters of dancers, which seem to have the weight of statues; in the foreground, rapid arrowy flights performed by individual soloists. One appreciates their flashes of lightness and freedom because of the weight they seem to rise over, as if the constraints of the group were the springboard for the soloist's release."[149]

ABT: La Fille Mal Guardée, and the Hollywood Bowl[edit]

Nijinska in 1940, for the inaugural season of the Ballet Theater in New York City (later renamed the American Ballet Theatre), choreographed La Fille Mal Guardée.[150] Later that year she staged a three-ballet performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Her program: Ravel's Boléro, the Chopin Concerto, and Etude-Bach. In 1939 she had returned to the United States, and then established her residence in Los Angeles.[151]

Ballet based in Los Angeles[edit]

The approach of World War II restricted ballet performance in Europe. Nijinska moved to Los Angeles in 1938. "Bronislava Nijinska did not understand Americans, or they her. She was almost deaf by the time she reached the United States, and life (exile, her brother's madness, her son's death) had let her down badly." She opened her school for dance, training noteworthy students. She also continued to work as a ballet mistress and guest choreographer into the 1960s. In 1949 she had become a citizen of the United States.[152]

Choreographies after 1940[edit]

'Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo': Snow Maiden[edit]

Nijinska choreographed Snow Maiden (1942) with music by Glazunov, and Ancient Russia (1942), music by Tchaikovsky, for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.[153] The Snow Maiden drew on Russian folklore. The maiden, daughter of King Frost, would melt in the heat of the sun if she fell in love with a mortal man.[154]

'Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas': The Sleeping Beauty[edit]

Pictures at an Exhibition (1944), music by Mussorgsky, and The Sleeping Beauty (1960), music by Tchaikovsky, for the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. Nijinska was familiar with The Sleeping Beauty. She had in 1921 worked for Diaghilev on Petipa's traditional 1990 version of the three-act ballet The Sleeping Princess, and from it she had with Stravinsky abreviated the one-act ballet Aurora's Wedding.[155] Nijinska also served as the ballet mistress for the Marquis de Cuevas Ballet.[156]

'The Royal Ballet' of London: Les Biches and Les Noces[edit]
Frederick Ashton (1904-1988).

In 1964 Nijinska was asked by choreographer Frederick Ashton to stage her Les Biches (1924) at Covent Gardens for The Royal Ballet. An associate director since 1952, he had been appointed the director of the London company in 1963.[157]

When he was a young ballet student Nijinska had mentored his career. Then a dancer with the Ida Rubinstein Ballet Company, he'd danced in several of her choreographed works. Ashton consider her ballet creations influential in the development of ballet generally, and her choreography had informed his own progress in that art.[158] The staging of the revived Les Biches went well. Two years later, Ashton asked her to return to London and stage her Les Noces (1923) on his company.[159][160][161] According to Horst Koegler, these London productions "confirmed her reputation as one of the formative choreographers of the 20th century."[162] In 1934 Ashton wrote:

“Her achievements have proved to me time and again that through the medium of classical ballet any emotion may be expressed. She might be called the architect of dancing, building her work brick by brick into the amazing structures that result in masterpieces like Les Noces.“[163]

Teaching dance[edit]

Her students included the prima ballerinas Maria Tallchief and Marjorie Tallchief, as well as the dancer Cyd Charisse. Also: Serge Lifar in Kiev, Ashton and Alicia Markova in Paris.

Nijinska trained and choreographed a trio that included the Tallchief sisters and Jeanne Adele Sook. They performed in the Civic Light Operas in Los Angeles and San Francisco under the direction of Edwin Lester. In a publicity shot for the show, Nijinska and the photographer wouldn't allow Maria Tallchief in the photo, "because her toe shoes were too dirty."

Work on her Memoirs[edit]

Following her death in 1972, Bronislava Nijinska's daughter Irina Nijinska edited and translated into English her Early Memoirs. They were published in 1981. These writings describe in detail her early years traveling in provincial Russia with her dancer parents, her brother Vaslav's development as a dancer, and her schooling and first years as a professional in the Diaglhiev era of Russian ballet.[164]

Bronislava Nijinska died from a heart attack on February 21, 1972 in the Pacific Palisades, California.[165]

Personal life[edit]

Nijinska married twice. Her first husband was Alexandre Kochetovsky, a fellow Ballet Russes dancer. They married in 1912, and had two children: their daughter Irina Nijinska, born 1913, and Leon Kochetovsky, their son, born 1919. Leon was killed in a traffic accident in 1935. Their daughter Irina became a ballet dancer in her own right, yet she also was seriously injured in the same traffic collision.[166] Nijinska had separated from Alexandre in 1919. In 1921 she left Soviet Russia with her children and her mother. They were divorced in 1924.[167][168] Alexandre died of a heart attack in Houston, Texas, at the age of 63. Nijinska calls him "Sasha in her Early Memoirs.[169]

Nijinska was married to her second husband Nicholas Singaevsky, also a dancer, for more than 40 years.[170] In production and management, he worked with her in staging various ballet performances. He died in 1968, four years before her.

Upon his passing Irina Nijinska her daughter took care of her mother. Subsequently, Irina carried on her mother's work which included editing and translating the Early Memoirs, and then seeing the work to publication.[171] Irina had been her mother's rehearsal assistant, and continued to stage her ballets after her death.

The true love of her life, but whom she did not marry, was also a theatrical personality. Their career paths crossed several times, but circumstances worked against them. This was the Russian opera singer, the renowned basso, Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938).[172][173]

See also[edit]




  • Jack Anderson, The One and Only. The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (New York: Dance Horizons 1981).
  • George Balanchine, Balanchine's complete stories of the great ballets (New York: Doubleday 1954).
  • Alexander Bland, The Royal Ballet. The first 50 years (New York: Threshold/Doubleday 1981), forward by Ninette de Valois.
  • Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp, Ballet. An illustrated history (London: A & C Black 1973; rev'd 1992, Hamish Hamilton, London).
  • Agnes de Mille, The Book of the Dance (London: Paul Hamlyn 1963).
  • Agnes de Mille, Portrait Gallery (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1990).
  • Lynn Garafola, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (Oxford University 1989, reprint Da Capo Press).
  • Vincente García-Márquez, The Ballets Russes. Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo 1932-1952 (NY: Knopf 1990).
  • Robert Greskovic, Ballet. A complete guide (London: Robert Hale 2000).
  • Jennifer Homans, Apollo's Angels. A history of ballet (New York: Random House 2010).
  • Allegra Kent, Once a Dancer. An autobiography (New York: St. Martin's Press 1997).
  • Léonide Massine, My Life in Ballet (London: Macmillan 1968).
  • Vicki Woolf, Dancing in the Vortex: The Story of Ida Rubinstein (Routledge 2001).
    • Willi Apel, et al., Harvard Dictionary of Music (Harvard University 1944, 2d ed. 1969, 1972).
    • Horst Koegler, et al., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet ([1972], Oxford University 1977).
    • Irena Rima Makaryk and Virlana Tkacz, eds., Modernism in Kiev: Jubilant Experimentation (University of Toronto 2010).
  • Joan Acocella, "Secrets of Nijinsky" in The New York Review of Books, January 14, 1999. Acc'd 2017-05-11.
  • Lorna Sanders, "Les Noces (Svadebka/The Wedding)" in Dancing Times, vol. 95 (Oct. 2004), pp. 48-53. Print.
  • Maria Tallchief with Larry Kaplan, "Maria Tallchief. America's Prima Ballerina" in The Washington Post, 1997. Acc'd 2017-04-28.
Inspired by Nijinska


  1. ^ N. V. B. (2003).
  2. ^ Greskovic (1998).
  3. ^ Kisselgoff (1972).
  4. ^ Tomasz is "Foma" in Russian. Nijinska (1981), p.538.
  5. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 3-8 (mother), 9-11 (father), 11-12 (marriage), 12-13 (birth. baptism of three children), 11 & 14 (ballet master, ranks)
  6. ^ Avocella (1999), family's money troubles.
  7. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 22-23 (Tomas' dance group), 25-26 (African-American dancers visit), 35, 40-41, 447 (Fountain production), 44, 55-56 (Tomasz as choreographer), 23, 44, 246 (financial success, poorer later), 46-47 (surrounded by artists, quote at 46).
  8. ^ Nijinska (1981, 44 (forgone opportunities), 56-57, 58, 92, 93 (parents separate), 59, 60 (family's move to Sankt Peterburg), 159-164 (father's visit), 57, 85, 190-192 (Vaslav bitter, in 1907 breaks with his father, Broni's letter), 418 (father's attempt in 1912 to reconcile with her mother), 444 (Nijinska's marriage, guilt), 447-448 (father's death).
  9. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p. 214 (parents separate).
  10. ^ Nijinska (1981), p.75 (opening quote), pp. 53-54 (parents not punitive); pp. 39, 51-52 (rooftops, quote at 51), 31-33 (sneaking into a circus), 42-43 (as actors in family friend's circus), 39, 50 (world of birds), 36-39 (exploring city streets), 41 (juggling, somersaults), 51 (over the top on a swing), 50, 52-53 (adventures with gypsy boys and their horses).
  11. ^ Makaryk and Tkacz. (2010).
  12. ^ Nijinska (1981), p.41: "Picking up all these acrobatics from the circus proven useful to me eventually in my choreography." Cf. p. 25-26.
  13. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 18-19, 20, 26 (parents taught dance), 41 (mixed dance and BN's later choreography), 25-28, 33-34, 42-43 (child debut, performances), 6, 33, 43-44, 85 (aunt Stepha), 19, 22, 28/42, 31 (dancers LC, MG, VD, ML), 90-91, 94-95 (Cecchetti).
  14. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p. 214-215 (First Award).
  15. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 94-96 (examination, acceptance), 74 (supporters), 235-236 (graduation, First Award).
  16. ^ Sanders (2004).
  17. ^ Garafola (1989).
  18. ^ Kisselgoff (1972).
  19. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.215.
  20. ^ Nijinska (1981).
  21. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.215 (quote).
  22. ^ Sanders (2004).
  23. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 207-210 (his Blue Bird role), 315-316 (creating Faune in secret), 448-450 (Le Sacre), 484-485 (his marriage).
  24. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.214 (quote).
  25. ^ Kisselgoff (1972).
  26. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 284-288 (Carnaval), 410 (Cleopatre), 422-426 (Petruchka), 450, 461-462 (Rites of Spring).
  27. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 199-200.
  28. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 478-480 (marriage), 480-482 (military draft), 482 (artistic quarrels), 482-484 (break), 486-487 (money owed), 488-491 (Nijinska and Diaghilev).
  29. ^ Elwood (2002).
  30. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 498-508, chapter "The Saison Nijinsky".
  31. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p. 216.
  32. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 194-195, at 194 (quotes).
  33. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.216 (Kiev).
  34. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 70-71.
  35. ^ Nijinska (1930), her essay.
  36. ^ Garafola (2005), p.198 (her essay).
  37. ^ Garafola (1989), p.123 (quote, her essay), pp. 434-435 notes 60 and 61.
  38. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.216 (quote).
  39. ^ Sanders (2004).
  40. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.216 (son Leon, quotes, ballets).
  41. ^ Garafola (1989).
  42. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p. 217.
  43. ^ Greskovic (1998).
  44. ^ Garafola (2005), p.196.
  45. ^ Garafola (1989), p.124: list of her seven or eight choreographic contributions to Aurora's Wedding.
  46. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1973, 1992), p.119-120 (three quotes). Cf. p.89.
  47. ^ Balanchine (1954), pp. 336-354 (Sleeping Beauty), 349, 352-353 (Aurora's Wedding); Nijinska at 336, 352.
  48. ^ Garafola (1989), p.124, quoting from an excerpt of a pre-1937 essay by Nijinska provided by Garafola.
  49. ^ Garafola (2005), p.201.
  50. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1973, 1992), p.120-121, quote at 121. Cf. p.161.
  51. ^ Greskovik (1998), pp. 78, 90, 290-295, 553.
  52. ^ Balanchine (1954), pp. 336, 349.
  53. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.519.
  54. ^ Garafola (1989), pp. 239, 411 (Act III, premier).
  55. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 519-520.
  56. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p. 217.
  57. ^ Garagola (1989), pp. 408-412: eleven ballet listed for 1921-1926 at Ballets Russes, those seven discussed individually in this section below, plus these four ballets in two of which Nijinska shared credit for choreography: The Sleeping Princess (1921), after Marius Petipa; In 1926, she choreographed Romeo and Juliet, which is discussed in another section, and in which Balanchine did a entr'acte.
  58. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1992), p. 122.
  59. ^ Garafola (1989), p. 409.
  60. ^ Nijinska (1981), p.140 (quote re Le renard). Cf., p.41. In Fokine's 1905 "Fauns", her brother Nijinsky danced a solo before twelve "boy students" playing the animalistic fauns (p.140)..
  61. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.519.
  62. ^ Lille (2011). The ballet Les Nocees lasts 24 minutes. Dancers are usually unfamiliar with the intense group movements. "When you are truly moving together your individuality is really evident." Photographs of group scenes from rehearsals at Juilliard. H. G. Wells called Les Noces "a rendering in sound and vision of the peasant soul."
  63. ^ Greskovic (1998), pp. 78-79, 399-408.
  64. ^ Balanchine (1954), pp. 245-246.
  65. ^ Garafola (2005), p. 109, re Les noces.
  66. ^ Anderson (1981), p.28, quoting a John Martin ballet review of Massine's St. Francis.
  67. ^ Nijinska (1981), p.469.
  68. ^ Greskovic (1998), pp. 399, 400, 401 (quote). The author provides an analysis of the ballet's scenes (pp. 399-408), inviting the reader to follow the action via the VHS Paris dances Diaghilev.
  69. ^ Homans (2010), pp. 333-334 (quotes).
  70. ^ Nijinska, however, identified as Polish, was raised Catholic. Cf. Nijinska (1981), e.g., pp. 13, 85, 157-158, 254-255.
  71. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1973, 1992), p.123.
  72. ^ García-Márquez (1990), p. 200-201 (the costumes of Gris were latter used by Diaghilev for the 1928 ballet Les Dieux Mendiants).
  73. ^ Garafola (2005), p. 109 (quote).
  74. ^ Bronislave Nijinska collection: Les tentations de la Bergère (quote).
  75. ^ Greskovic (1998), p.79. The title Les Biches (signifying female deer, the plural of doe) "is 1920s terminology for young women; [it] celebrates ballet women as chic young ladies."
  76. ^ Balanchine (1954), p. 39.
  77. ^ Koegler (1977), p.73.
  78. ^ Balanchine (1954), pp. 39-42.
  79. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 199-200, quoting Ballets Russes dancer Lydia Sokolova, who admired Nijinska's energy.
  80. ^ Garafola (1989), pp. 129-132 (quotes).
  81. ^ Greskovic (1998), p.32.
  82. ^ Balanchine (1954), p.442.
  83. ^ Massine (1968), p.171 re Les Fâcheux.
  84. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1992), p.123.
  85. ^ Garafola (1989), pp. 254, 410.
  86. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.520.
  87. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 50 (Les Six), 51 (quote).
  88. ^ García-Márquez (1990), p. 124: Auric played one of the four pianos in the London premiere of Les noces by Nijinska.
  89. ^ Garafola (2005), p. 176 (Lopokova quote).
  90. ^ Garafola (1989), p.410.
  91. ^ Apel (1972), p.574.
  92. ^ Garafola (2005), p.199.
  93. ^ Greskovic (1998), p.79.
  94. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1992), p.123 (cast and dancers).
  95. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1992), pp. 122, 123 (quotes). Photo of scene from the ballet at 122.
  96. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 383-390: "Tracking down Le train bleu".
  97. ^ Shelokhonov (n.d.), quote re Le train bleu.
  98. ^ Garafola (1998), pp. 132-134.
  99. ^ García-Márquez (1990), p. 74.
  100. ^ Koegler (1977), p.385.
  101. ^ Nijinska [Nižinska] (1981), pp. 320-323.
  102. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.217.
  103. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 70-71, 199 (Alexandra Exter).
  104. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.217 (six ballets).
  105. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.520.
  106. ^ Koegler (1977), p.65.
  107. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), pp. 520 (La Rencontres in Paris), 522 (Beloved in NY).
  108. ^ Massine (1968), pp.169-170, quotes.
  109. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.520.
  110. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p. 217.
  111. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 473-474, 475.
  112. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.520 (quote).
  113. ^ Cf. Balanchine (1954), who writes that while "Bach had no idea of composing music for a ballet," actually "it seems to me that the music of Bach and Mozart is always very close to dancing" (p.526). Balanchine in 1940 choreographed a ballet to music by Bach (pp. 91-93). Balanchine adds:

    "[I]f the dance designer sees in the development of classical dancing a counterpart in the development of music and has studied them both, he will derive continual inspiration from great scores. He will also be careful... not to stretch the music to accommodate a literary idea... [and may] present his impression in terms of pure dance" (p.92).

  114. ^ Cf., Balanchine (1954), pp. 114-117 (Daphne et Chloe ballet), 268-275 (Petrouchka ballet).
  115. ^ Koegler (1977), p.268: 1928 Stravinsky and Nijinska. Fyodor Lopokov had choreographed the eerie narrative ballet in 1927, but to the music of Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt.
  116. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), pp. 520-521, 521-522.
  117. ^ See below for Nijinska's 1928 Le Baiser de la Fée for Ida Rubinstein's company.
  118. ^ Woolf (2000).
  119. ^ See below 'Exterior links'.
  120. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 292-298 (Sheherazade), Rubinstein and Nijinsky partnered at 297.
  121. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 158, 159, 181-182: Rubinstein and Nijinsky also partnered in the ballet Cléopâtre a year before. Rubinstein played the title role. The ballet was "the runaway success of the 1909 season that made her an overnight star" (p.158).
  122. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p. 521.
  123. ^ Anderson (1991), La Valse is said to take place in a "cursed ballroom".
  124. ^ Balanchine (1954), pp. 26-32, at pp. 31-32 (quotes from Stravinsky; Nijinska).
  125. ^ Garafola (2005), p.49 (Stravinsky and Rubinstein).
  126. ^ Balanchine (1954), p.32 (performances, versions).
  127. ^ Greskovic (1998), p.92 (Ashton, 'eerie').
  128. ^ See above, 'Teatro Colón'.
  129. ^ Homans (2010), pp. 338-339: Diaghilev's death "was felt across Europe" and left his colleagues "disoriented and unhinged." Said one, "A part of the world has died with him."
  130. ^ García-Márquez (1990), pp. xi-xii, xvi, 3-6, quotes at 4 (Blum), 5 (de Basil and Blum), and 6 (impresario).
  131. ^ Cf. Garafola (1989), p.376-377.
  132. ^ Massine (1968), p.183.
  133. ^ The Russian Ruslan et Lyudmila (Glinka), the Czech Rusalka (Dvorak), and Sadko (Rimsky-Korsakov).
  134. ^ García-Márquez (1990), pp. 4, 5 (her program), 6 (her own company).
  135. ^ García-Márquez (1990), pp. 6 (Ballets Nijinska), 319,n12 (repertory of Ballets Nijinska).
  136. ^ Anderson (1991), quote.
  137. ^ Balanchine (1954), pp.195-198.
  138. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 521-522.
  139. ^ García-Márquez (1990). pp. xiii, 51, 111-112.
  140. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.522.
  141. ^ Koegler (1977), p.111.
  142. ^ Garía-Márquez (1990), pp.139-147, Baronova at 147. Nijinska in 1935 had worked with the de Basil company in Monte Carlo.
  143. ^ Nijinska [Nižinska] (1981), p. (film).
  144. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.521 (Reinhardt).
  145. ^ de Mille (1990), pp. 26, 27 (quote); re Dolin, pp. 26, 28.
  146. ^ Garafola (2005), pp. 194-195, re Autumn Song for television's Show of Shows.
  147. ^ Kisselgoff (1986), 'creative sessions'.
  148. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), pp. 521, 522.
  149. ^ Garafola (2005), p. 198 (Denby quote).
  150. ^ Balanchine (1954), pp. 143-149, at 143, 148.
  151. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p. 522.
  152. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.214 (quote from Joan Acocella); citizen.
  153. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), p.522.
  154. ^ Massine (1968), p.74.
  155. ^ Irina Nijinska (1981), pp 519, 522-523. See section above.
  156. ^ Elwood (2002).
  157. ^ Koegler (1977), p.28.
  158. ^ Kisselgoff (1972).
  159. ^ Bland (1981).
  160. ^ Clarke and Crisp (1992), pp. 161-162.
  161. ^ Nijinska (1981), p.xxi (Editors' Forward): In 1970 she staged Les Noces at Teatro Fenice in Venice, "where she celebrated her eightieth birthday on stage."
  162. ^ Koegler (1977), p.385 (quote).
  163. ^ Kisselgoff (1972), quote.
  164. ^ Nijinska [Nižinska] (1981).
  165. ^ Nijinska [Nižinska] (1981).
  166. ^ García-Marquez (1990), p.135 (traffic collision).
  167. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.216 (AK marriage, children), p.218 (traffic accident 1935).
  168. ^ Nijinska (1981), pp. 408, 438 (meets AK, marriage); pp. 473-474, 480 (daughter), p.513 (son), p.514 (leaves Soviet Russia).
  169. ^ Nijinska (1981), p.408 ("Sasha").
  170. ^ N. V. B. (2003), p.217 (NS marriage).
  171. ^ Nijinska [Nižinska] (1981), "Editors' Foreword" at pp. xxi-xxii (death of NS, Irina's role).
  172. ^ Nijinska (1981), e.g., p.332*, quoting from Bronislava Nijinska's diaries, "The diaries are the soul of my book... as my love for Chaliapin has been the inspiration for my work for the rest of my life." In their last meeting, described in her diaries (quoted at p. 440), in 1912 Chiliapin came to her tiny dressing room during intermission for a brief moment, and asked, "Bronia, do you love me?" "Yes, I love you forever."
  173. ^ Shelokhonov (n.d.), re Chiliapin.

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