Dance History

#tbt: Nijinsky's Underrated (and More Prolific) Older Sister, Bronislava Nijinska

Bronislava Nijinska, at 80, staging her Les Noces. Photo by Serge Lido, Courtesy DM Archives

In the August 1963 issue of Dance Magazine, we caught up with Bronislava Nijinska, then 72. After leaving the Mariinsky in 1911 to follow her younger brother, Vaslav Nijinsky, to Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Nijinska carved out a stellar performing career for herself. While Nijinsky often worked out his now-legendary dances, including his Afternoon of a Faun, on her, Nijinska ultimately proved to be the more prolific choreographer—and an equally gifted one, at that. When we spoke to her, she was as energetic as ever, getting up to demonstrate bits of choreography when she felt her words fell short. She told us, "You listen to music through your ears—yes? I listen to music through my eyes. I want my ballets to be music through the eyes, so if you would close your ears you could still hear the music—you could see the music. A paradox! But a paradox close to the center of my idea of ballet."

The Conversation
Career Advice
Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta took their final curtain call on June 9, 2019. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB

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A previous lab cycle. Photo by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade, Courtesy RRR Creative

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