Dance History

You Only Have A Week to See Rodin's Nijinsky Sculpture at The Met

We can all relate to the feeling: You go see a new dance work that you absolutely love, and when you get home, you have no choice but to create a bronze sculpture depicting the performance.

Okay, maybe not. But in 1912, that's exactly what Auguste Rodin did after seeing the premiere of Vaslav Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun.

And for a short time, the iconic sculptor's depiction of Nijinsky, as well as his cast plaster for the piece, are on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as part of a Rodin exhibition.

Several days after Afternoon of a Faun scandalized audiences at its premiere, Rodin, who loved the work, invited Nijinsky to come pose for him. The resulting sculpture, not cast in bronze until 1959, captures the jaggedness and angularity of the choreographer's signature style, as well as a sense of motion. Nijinsky looks ready to explode into a leap, his captivating expressiveness clear in the detailed torsion of his upper body. Rodin's skillful depiction of movement is no accident: The artist spent years studying dancers and creating many meticulous sculptures of various steps and positions.

And just like with dance, an in-person, up-close viewing is necessary to experience the full magic of Rodin's creation. But hurry—the exhibition's last day is February 4.

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