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."

Dance Training
Robin Worrall via Unsplash

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UA Dance Ensemble members Candice Barth and Gregory Taylor in Jessica Lang's "Among the Stars." Photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona

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Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

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Dance History
Sergei Diaghilev, who was terrified of the sea, posing with a life preserver aboard a ship. Photo courtesy DM Archives

On August 19, 1929, shockwaves were felt throughout the dance world as news spread that impresario Sergei Diaghilev had died. The founder of the Ballets Russes rewrote the course of ballet history as the company toured Europe and the U.S., championing collaborations with modernist composers, artists and designers such as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. The company launched the careers of its five principal choreographers: Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine.

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