Nijinsky – “God of Dance”
An interactive illustrated eBook/App for the iPhone/iPad & Android devices
Designed for those who love dance
Schéhérazade, Auguste Bert, Paris 1910
This unique eBook/App presents 242 photographs of the legendary ballet dancer and star of the Ballets Russes
Discover Nijinsky in 21 ballets from 1906 to 1916 together with images of him in civil life from 1902 to 1928
“One of the most remarkable collections in the world”
View video introduction to the App:
Danse Siamoise, selections from a series of 19 photographs by Eugène Druet, Paris 1910
San Francisco Classical Voice, December 3, 2013
With this eBook/App, viewers have access to the Roger Pryor Dodge Collection at their fingertips accompanied by two of his articles on Nijinsky. Additionally, a tribute by Tamara Karsavina, one of Nijinsky´s principal dance partners, offers a personal expression of his artistry. Coupled with several ballets, Nijinsky's sister Bronislava Nijinska, in her memoires, provides evocative commentary on his technique. The App includes the seminal article by Edwin Denby and a meditation by Daniel Gesmer, both inspired by this collection, offering illuminating observations to provide a more profound viewing experience. Writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten, and by Cyril W. Beaumont, a dance writer, publisher and bookseller, who attended every season of the Ballets Russes in London from 1912 to their final performance in 1929, give a first hand impression of Nijinsky´s brilliance.
21 Ballets: Le Roi Candaule, The Pharaoh’s Daughter, Don Giovanni, Le Pavillon d’Armide, Eunice, Le Talisman, Le Festin, L’Oiseau d’Or, Les Sylphides, Giselle, Les Orientales, Schéhérazade, Carnaval, Le Spectre de la Rose, Narcisse, Cléopâtra, Petrouchka, Le Dieu Bleu, L’Après-midi d’un faune, Jeux, and Tyl Eulenspiegel.
This eBook/App offers two identical sets of photographs for a varied and interactive experience. One set is divided between the sections Ballets, Student Life, and Civil Life, with supporting information on the majority of photographs. In the second set, located in the Photo Album, they are thumbnails that allow for zooming and swiping. Considering the large number of photographs in the collection, this section facilitates immediate access to all the images, thus providing viewers, especially dancers, the possibility to quickly skip between photos to compare poses, gestures, expressions, and costumes. The Photo Album is presented without supporting information to offer a more contemplative experience without textual diversion. The accompanying articles are by no means the last word. With this in mind and the desire to stimulate discussion, this App invites users' observations and commentary which, upon review, will be frequently uploaded to the App's Forum.
These remarkable photographs of Vaslav Nijinsky are from the collection of Roger Pryor Dodge (1898–1974). He was fortunate to have seen Nijinsky dance in Tyl Eulenspiegel when the Ballets Russes performed in New York in 1916. Already active as a social dancer, Dodge´s first exposure to ballet proved to be a momentous experience, so inspiring that he began taking classes in ballet. In 1920 at age 22, he moved to Paris to continue his training with Nikolai Legat, one of Nijinsky´s teachers, Lubov Egorova, who had partnered with Nijinsky with the Ballets Russes, and Léo Staats, the maître de ballet at the Paris Opera.
Nijinsky´s career had ended prematurely due to the onset of schizophrenia; his last performance took place in 1919 at the age of 30 in front of an invited audience in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Realizing that photography was the only available means to experience Nijinsky´s greatness as no films of him dancing were ever produced, my father had the foresight to preserve a photographic record of that era´s greatest dancer. He proceeded to purchase prints from the photographers who had taken studio portraits of Nijinsky in his various roles, sometimes even skipping meals to afford them. Additionally, this pursuit took him to newspaper offices so that he could acquire every available image. His years of collecting resulted in the most comprehensive collection of photographic images of Vaslav Nijinsky.
Upon returning to New York in 1921, my father entered the Metropolitan Opera corps de ballet, an engagement he held for six seasons while continuing his ballet training with Mikhail Fokine, the creator of several ballets featuring Nijinsky. In 1925 he took a leave of absence from the Metropolitan Opera to join the company of another member of the Ballets Russes, Adolph Bolm, when Bolm brought his troupe to Argentina to perform Le Coq D´Or at the Teatro Colón, where Nijinsky had performed.
A small selection from my father´s collection was first published when loaned to Romola Nijinsky for her book, Nijinsky, published in 1934. Lincoln Kirstein, who collaborated on this book, later wrote that "Roger Dodge´s close observation of Fokine´s early ballets and Nijinsky´s performance and choreography kindled my own attempts to study theatrical movement."1
In 1937, with the desire that a new generation share his enthusiasm and be inspired by Nijinsky, and realizing that keeping these photographs to himself for his own private enjoyment would be of little service to Nijinsky´s memory, my father made his collection available to the public by donating it to the Dance Collection at the New York Public Library (currently the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center). Later, during the 1950s–60s, seeking a broader exposure for the photos, my father approached editors to propose a major illustrated book. His design concept resembled a photographic portfolio, with one image per page and the facing page left blank, to insure that viewers would indulge in the beauty of the images without textual distraction. He was unable to interest publishers as he would not compromise on the format he believed these photographs required to achieve the greatest effect. His expectations were too high and the specifications too costly. Besides, ballet, and dance in general, had not yet developed a sufficiently dedicated public and market to warrant a major illustrated book, let alone one of such extravagance.
In 1975, two years after my father´s death, the widely acclaimed illustrated book Nijinsky Dancing eventually unveiled a large selection of his collection to a wider audience. The book was the brainchild of Lincoln Kirstein who wrote the text. A balletomane par excellence, Kirstein was an early supporter of George Balanchine; together they founded the New York City Ballet in 1948.
Beaumont, Cyril W. The Diaghilev Ballet in London — A Personal Record . London: Adam and Charles Black, 1951 (First edition, Putnam 1940).
Bourman, Anatole, in collaboration with D. Lyman. The Tragedy of Nijinsky . New York: Whittlesey House (McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc.), 1936.
Buckle, Richard. Nijinsky: A Life of Genius and Madness. New York: Pegasus Books, 2013.
Buckle, Richard. Diaghilev. New York: Atheneum, 1979.
Buckle, Richard. Nijinsky. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971.
Denby, Edwin. "Notes on Nijinsky Photographs," Dance Index. New York: Vol. II No. 3, March 1943, pp. 37-40.
Dodge, Roger Pryor. Hot Jazz and Jazz Dance; Collected Writings, 1929-1964, edited by Pryor Dodge. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (Includes articles on Nijinsky, Serge Lifar, Alicia Markova, Alicia Alonso, Les Sylphides.)
Foster, Andrew R. Tamara Karsavina: Diaghilev’s Ballerina. London: Andrew Foster, 2010.
Garafola, Lynn. Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. New York: Da Capo Press, 1998 (First edition, Oxford University Press, 1989).
Gaspers, Kinga Szakáts Nijinsky. Nijinsky in America: The American Tour of the Ballet Russe, [sic] 1916-1917. Columbus, OH: Biblio Publishing/The Educational Publisher Inc., 2013.
Haskell, Arnold L., in collaboration with Walter Nouvel. Diaghilev, His Artistic and Private Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935.
Järvinen, Hanna. Dancing Genius, The Stardom of Vaslav Nijinsky. London, New York: Pelgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Karsavina, Tamara. Theatre Street — The Reminiscences of Tamara Karsavina. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1936.
Kirstein, Lincoln. Nijinsky Dancing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975.
Moore, Lucy. Nijinsky. London: Profile Books, 2013.
Nijinska, Bronislava. Early Memoirs, translated and edited by Irina Nijinska and Jean Rawlinson. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981. London: Faber & Faber, 1982. Reprint, Durham: Duke University Press, 1992.
Nijinsky, Romola. Nijinsky. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1934.
Nijinsky, Vaslav. The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky: Unexpurgated Edition, translated from the Russian by Kyril FitzLyon, edited by Joan Acocella. New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giraux, 1999.
Pritchard, Jane (ed.). Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929. London: Victoria and Albert Museum 2010; Washington: National Gallery of Art 2013.
Reiss, Françoise. Nijinsky, translated from the French by Helen and Stephen Haskell. London: Adam and Charles Black, Ltd., 1960.
Scheijen, Sjeng. Diaghilev: A Life. London: Profile Books, 2009.
Stanciu-Reiss, Françoise, and Jean-Michel Pourvoyeur, Eds. Ecrits sur Nijinsky—La Recherche en danse. Paris: Editions Chiron, 1992.
Van Vechten, Carl. "Interpreters," Dance Index. New York: Vol. 1, Nos. 9-11, September-November, 1942, pp. 167-176.