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Men in Ballet - A Question.

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I've been pondering a bit on a detail from Judith Mackrell's interview feature with Ivan Putrov and Sergei Polunin in the Guardian on Monday. The link is repeated here for reference:




What has struck me was Ivan Putrov selecting Nijinsky in "Spectre de la Rose" as the key moment in the emergence of the male ballet dancer. I respect his judgement, of course, but I do find it strange for, growing up in the 1940s and 50s, images of Nijinsky in Diaghilev roles - the "exquisite, perfumed, hovering creature" described by Ms Mackrell - were just the sort of thing that caused me to dismiss ballet as being worthy of consideration, and I would have expected any male dancer post-Nureyev to have chosen him as their point of reference.


As a matter of history, I could not deny Nijinsky's significance. However, in terms of an aesthetic that would be recognised today, and that has influenced expectations of contemporary male dancers, surely Nureyev is the better choice?


That said, I will now retreat below the parapet and await reactions!

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Ivan Putrov is Russian. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the Russian people venerated Nijinsky for his technical prowess whereas the rest of Europe venerated him because of his modernity. It could well have been Nijinsky who started the emergence of the male dancer in the 20th century. I think in the Danish school men and women had equal status but perhaps Jane S could confirm that.

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I read that it was after his solo in Le Pavilion d'Armide, when he did a huge jete offstage, that Nijinsky first became a sensation, but of course he did the same in Spectre de la Rose , I agree that he brought male dancing to the world's notice whereas before it had been for a smaller elitist audience, so it was the start of superstardom for male dancers.


I must say these days I often book to see a favourite male dancer, even in something like Giselle, Sergei Polunin is a good example!


Men in Motion looks a great programme anyway, I wonder who will actually follow in Nijinsky's footsteps in Spectre?

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I wonder who will actually follow in Nijinsky's footsteps in Spectre?


I'm hoping Putrov: he was good in it at the ROH.


Edit: The Sadler's website doesn't indicate casting for it.

Edited by alison
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Perhaps the "exquisite - hovering - perfumed" creature Nijinsky presented was seen differently in its time. Perhaps it was seen as the essence of the romantic. Sometimes when we see old films of say, Valentino, they seem over the top to us. And, Nijinsky in that particular ballet was not human - he was a rose.


He was certainly the superstar of his day. Nureyev, when he danced the Rose, remarked that he could tell how strong Nijinsky was by the exhausting choreography. Another thing to consider, in Le Spectre de la Rose, while the male dancer does partner the ballerina, he also has quite a bit of solo dancing which began to expand the role of the male. He could shine on the stage while the ballerina slept.

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