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Vaslav Nijinski

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

to Volume 3 Table of Contents


Vaslav Nijinski—Ballet Dancer

(1890-1950) March 12, 1890, NS, Kiev, Russia, 10:30 PM, LMT. (Source: rectification by ARA and Michael Erlewine, based upon biography of his wife Ramola stating that he was “born in the evening after his mother danced at the theater”. LMR cites Chronicle Nativities whicn makes the same quote, “He was born an hour after his mother performed at the theater, approximately 10:30 PM LMT.” An alternative time of 10:04 PM, LMT is suggestive for the Saturn placement and the house placement of the Sun and Venus, by Placidus.      

(Ascendant, Scorpio; MC, Leo with Saturn in Leo, H10; Sun conjunct Venus in Pisces with Mercury also in Pisces; Moon conjunct Mars in Sagittarius; Jupiter in Aquarius; Uranus in Libra; Neptune conjunct Pluto in Scorpio)         

The greatest male dancer of all time, especially noted for his high and soaring leaps. Entered ballet school at age 9; debut 1908. Married a dancer 1913. Hospitalized with hopeless schizophrenia at the age of 28.


People like eccentrics. Therefore they will leave me alone, saying that I am a 'mad clown'.

I merely leap and pause.

I know everyone will say 'Nijinsky has gone mad' but I don't care because I have already played the mad man at home. That is what everyone will think, but they wonâ??t put me in an insane asylum because I dance very well and give money to anyone who asks. People like eccentrics, so they will leave me alone and say Iâ??m a mad clown. I like the mentally ill because I know how to talk to them. When my brother was in an insane asylum, I loved him and he could feel me. His friends liked me. I was eighteen then. I understood the life of a mentally ill person.â?

Quotes about Nijinsky
"Nijinsky's life can be simply summed up: ten years of growth, ten years of learning, ten years of dancing, thirty years of darkness. Altogether some sixty years. How long he will live on in people's memories, we can only guess."

I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death. I could not bear it. I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe. I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb. ~Vaslav Nijinsky


Vaslav Fomich Nijinsky |Polish language: Waclaw Nizynski) (March 12, 1890 – April 8, 1950) was a Polish-born Russian ballet dancer and choreographer. Thought to be among the great male dancers in history, he became celebrated for his virtuosity and for the depth and intensity of his characterizations. He could perform en pointe, a rare skill among male dancers at the time (Albright, 2004) and his ability to perform seemingly gravity-defying leaps was also legendary.
He was born in Kiev to a a Russified Polish dancers' family; despite poor language knowledge, he regarded himself as a Pole. In 1900 he joined the Imperial Ballet School, where he studied under Enrico Cecchetti, Nicholas Legat, and Paul Gerdt. At 18 years old he had leading roles in the Mariinsky Theatre.
A turning point for Nijinsky was his meeting with Sergei Diaghilev, a member of the St Petersburg elite and wealthy patron of the arts, promoting Russian visual and musical art abroad, particularly in Paris. Nijinsky and Diaghilev became lovers, and Diaghilev became heavily involved in directing Nijinsky's career. In 1909 Diaghilev took a company to Paris, with Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova as the leads. The show was a great success and increased the reputation of both the leads and Diaghilev throughout the artistic circles of Europe. Diaghilev created Les Ballets Russes in its wake, and with choreographer Michel Fokine, made it one of the most well-known companies of the time.
Nijinsky's talent showed in Fokine's pieces such as “Pavilion Armidy” (music by Nikolai Tcherepnin), “Cleopatra” (music by Anton Arensky and other Russian composers) and a divertissement “The Feast”. His execution of a pas de deux from the “Sleeping Beauty” (Tchaikovsky) was a tremendous success; in 1910 he shone in “Giselle”, and Fokine’s ballets “The Carnival” and “Scheherazade” (based on the orchestral suite by Rimsky-Korsakov).
Then Nijinsky went back to the Mariinsky Theatre, but was soon dismissed as a result of scandal and became a regular member of Diaghilev’s troupe, whose projects centered around him. He had leading roles in Fokine's new productions “The Spectre of the Rose” (Weber) and Igor Stravinsky's “Petrushka”.
With Diaghilev's support, Nijinsky began to work as a choreographer himself, influenced by Dalcroze's eurhythmics, producing three ballets, L'après-midi d'un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun, with music by Claude Debussy) (1912), Jeux (1913), Till Eulenspiegel (1916) and Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring, with music by Igor Stravinsky (1913). Nijinsky created revolutionary movements in his shows, moving away from the traditional flowing movements of mainstream ballet. His radical angular movements combined with heavy sexual overtones caused a riot in the Théâtre de Champs-Elysées when Le Sacre du Printemps was premiered in Paris. He had "masturbated" with the faun's scarf in The Afternoon of the Faun (Albright, 2004).
In 1913 the Ballets Russes toured South America, and because of his fear of ocean voyages Diaghilev did not accompany them. Without his mentor's supervision Nijinsky fell in love with Romola de Pulszky (Pulszky Romola), a Hungarian ballerina. They were married in Buenos Aires: when the company returned to Europe, Diaghilev, in a jealous rage, fired them both. Nijinsky tried to create his own troupe, but its crucial London engagement failed due to administrative problems.
During World War I Nijinsky, a Russian citizen, was interned in Hungary. Diaghilev succeeded in getting him out for a North American tour in 1916, during which he choreographed and danced the leading role in Till Eulenspiegel. Signs of his dementia praecox were becoming apparent to members of the company. He became afraid of other dancers and that a trap door would be left open.
Nijinsky had a nervous breakdown in 1919 and his career effectively ended. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and taken to Switzerland by his wife where he was treated by psychiatrist Eugene Bleuler. He spent the rest of his life in and out of psychiatric hospitals and asylums. He also wrote a two-part diary then. He died in a London clinic on April 8, 1950 and was buried in London until 1953 when his body was moved to Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris, France beside the graves of Gaetano Vestris, Theophile Gautier, and Emma Livry.
He is mentioned in Groucho Marx's song Lydia the Tattooed Lady and W.H. Auden's poem "September 1, 1939". Presumably, the famous race horse, Nijinsky II, was named after him.
In 2001, his diaries were adapted into a film by Paul Cox. The screenplay was written directly from the diaries by Cox and then read over related imagery. The subject matter included his work, his sickness, and his relationships with Diaghilev as well as his wife.

Vaslav Nijinsky was born in Kiev, probably in 1889. His parents were Polish dancers who traveled around the Polish and Russian empires. He, and later his sister Bronislava, entered the Imperial Theatrical School in St. Petersburg for training in ballet. His ability was recognized quickly and he joined the Imperial Ballet at the Maryinsky Theatre on graduation.

Serge Pavlovich Diaghilev was a prominent member of St. Petersburg’s intellectual and artistic life, dedicated to presenting Russian creativity to Western Europe. He had curated a successful exhibition of Russian art in 1906 and presented concert music and opera in 1907 and 1908 seasons in Paris. In 1909, he brought a company from the Imperial Ballets to Paris, led by Nijinsky with Anna Pavlova. Their dancing, designs by Russian artists, and the new repertory won enormous acclaim and established Diaghilev and Nijinsky, an openly gay couple, as the centers of the Western Europe’s artistic elite. Pavlova left to pursue her own touring career, but the creative core of the Ballets Russes remained with Diaghilev in Paris.

Vaslav Nijinsky spent the final six weeks before his permanent consignment to an insane asylum as something a madman in the attic. With his family--wife, young daughters and occasionally, mother-in-law--and household staff downstairs, the legendary dancer retreated to his room in a remote Swiss villa to tangle with his burgeoning psychosis. Fearful that his wife would (as she ultimately did) commit him, and highly suspicious of the physician-cum-amateur psychiatrist who daily came by to examine him, Nijinsky perceived the diary as the only safe haven for the rambling thoughts that were overtaking him. Throughout, the anxiety and anguish are palpable, as Nijinsky writes about his disillusionment with his mentor and lover, Ballets Russes director Serge Diaghilev; his alienation from and distrust of his closest family members; and his fear of insanity and its consequential confinement. His writing becomes more obscure as the weeks progress and he examines his relationship to God, writing "I am God" at one point, and later: "God said to me, 'Go home and tell your wife that you are mad.'" As his schizophrenia evolves, the pace and style of Nijinsky's prose changes radically--toward the end he writes in abstract verse--but he remains, with a dancer's sensibility, attuned to the cadences of his environment. The noises of the household, the ringing of the phone, footsteps down the hall, smatterings of conversations overheard are all registered as a sort of accompaniment to his dance with madness and function perhaps as a final tether to reality.
Nijinsky's wife stumbled upon the diary in a locked trunk some years after her husband disappeared into the abyss of madness and soon released it for publication to feed public interest in her famous mate--but not before she sanitized the manuscript to such a degree (removing references to his homosexuality, overblown ego, bizarre paranoia, and various obsessions with bodily functions and sex acts) that its essence was obscured. Now 80 years after it was written, 20 years after its renegade editor died, and six years after the copyright that Nijinsky's daughters held expired, the unexpurgated version of the diaries faithfully restores the fascinating record of a great artist's struggle for his life.

From Publishers Weekly
One of this century's finest male dancers, Nijinsky might have become known as the greatest ballet choreographer of the modern era had his career not ended so early. Nijinsky danced professionally for only 10 years (1907-1917), and his reputation as a choreographer was established by only three ballets, all choreographed for the Ballets Russes between 1912 and 1913. Scandal surrounded his career: under Sergei Diaghilev, his lover and the impresario behind the Ballets Russes, Nijinsky choreographed The Afternoon of a Faun, which contained movements suggestive of masturbation; the premiere of his Rite of Spring, choreographed to Stravinsky's dissonant score, caused audiences to riot and storm out of the theater. After severing ties with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes at age 29, Nijinsky slid into insanity, and these diaries chronicle six weeks (January 19-March 4, 1919) of this period. The publication of this new translation (initially published in bowdlerized form in 1936), which for the first time includes a fourth journal of letters and poems, gives readers a chance to read an autobiography of a great artist during his psychological decline. This does not always make for easy reading: Nijinsky's thoughts are circuitous; he records his experience moment by moment and often breaks his train of thought to describe an incident in the next room. Although he is sometimes lucid, he often writes in contradictions and non sequiturs. Fitzlyon's excellent translation, which provides helpful and nonintrusive footnotes to explain Nijinsky's many linguistic idiosyncrasies, is complemented by Acocella's (Mark Morris) illuminating introduction. (Feb.) FYI: Acocella has just been named as the dance critic of the New Yorker.


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