What better subject for a new full-length ballet from Carl Davis than the complex and dramatic life of one of the artform’s greatest stars – Vaslav Nijinsky.
Choreographed by Daniel de Andrade with co-direction from Patricia Doyle, Nijinsky – God of the Dance opened in November at the Slovak National Theatre, Bratislava to a rave reception. Lavishly produced, with sets and costumes by Mark Bailey, this remarkable work has few parallels in terms of its complexity – it includes off stage choir, an actor reading Nijinsky’s diaries, and projections of documentary footage from World War I.
Musically, the whole work unfolds as a set of variations on Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 in C minor (to which Nijinsky danced his last public performance in 1919) and also includes popular music from the pre-World War I era when Nijinsky was active including tango, ragtime, samba and rumba. The score is marinated in the repertoire of the Ballets Russes, including Scheherazade, Le Sacre du Printemps (complete with a riot!), and Giselle, which Nijinsky famously performed with Anna Pavlova. In one of the most spectacular set pieces, Nijinsky is crowned Tsar of the Ballet to music from the Coronation Scene of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.
Tracing Nijinsky’s life from early childhood and student years, to his complex relationship with Diaghilev, worldwide recognition and fame, and his ongoing struggle with mental illness, this compelling work sees Davis at the peak of his powers. A revival is already being planned