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Slovak National Ballet - Nijinsky, God of Dance - World Premiere 27/11/2015 - Bratislava


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Slovak National Ballet - Nijinsky, God of Dance - World Premiere - 27/11/2015 Bratislava

 

 

Daniel de Andrade, Ballet Master at Northern Ballet, was commissioned to create a new 3-act ballet for the Slovak National Ballet and Nijinsky, God of Dance is the result.  I was in Bratislava for the premiere on Friday evening.

 

The programme was particularly good value at €4 and has three sections in Slovak, English and German with lots of great photographs and plenty of reading.  I had a huge lump in my throat before the performance even started when I read that it is presented in honour of Christopher Gable.  In the programme Daniel explains that Christopher had been working on the scenario for a ballet about Nijinsky with dramaturg Patricia Doyle and that she had given him her draft scenario and other notes from that time.

 

The music is by Carl Davis and is very tuneful and incredibly clever including references to the music from the works that Nijinsky was associated with.

 

The synopsis was very detailed, so much so that it was almost off-putting but, in reality, my friend and I found it very easy to follow the plot.

 

There is a prologue and epilogue with Nijinsky in the sanatorium dancing for the patients.  Act 1 covers Nijinsky’s childhood up to where he meets Diaghilev and the setting up of the Ballets Russes.  We see Nijinsky’s father dancing while his family look on and him rejecting his family.  This scene is reminiscent of the scene in Coppelia where Franz is flirting with the Gypsy and the music reminded me of both Coppelia and Giselle.  Projections are used from time to time and there is a projection of the outside of the Imperial Ballet School in St Petersburg as Nijinsky and his mother and sister arrive there.  We see Nijinsky dancing the Bluebird solo to great acclaim and we see Pavlova having a tantrum after Giselle when Nijinsky is presented with a bouquet.

 

As you can see, incidents from his life are entwined with snippets of the ballets for which he is known.  It really is so clever.

 

There is an electric scene where Nijinsky meets Diaghilev.  They dance a breath-taking tango.

 

Act 2, for me, was not quite so successful.  It covers the Ballets Russes in Paris and I found it a little messy until we get to the presentation of Rite of Spring and the riot.  There is a choir on stage for something that looks like a Firebird section and there are some sections from Sheherezade and L’Apres-Midi.  The riot at the Rite really was exciting to watch.  During the first part of this act we see Romola and see her setting her sights at Nijinsky.

 

Act 3 covers the liner to South America, Nijinsky’s wedding to Romola and subsequent estrangement from Diaghilev.  On board the liner we see the dancers having fun and there are salsa rhythms aplenty to dance to.  As we are approaching the end we see Nijinsky’s distress at the carnage of WW1.  

 

Throughout, the choreography is attractive to watch and moves the story along.  The Slovak National Ballet is a good looking company and I would definitely want to see them again.  I would like to see this work again as it is complex and would bear repeated viewings.

 

It was a huge undertaking with around 50 dancers, a chorus and what looked to be a huge orchestra.

 

Opening night honours went to Igor Leushin as Nijinsky, Andrej Szabo as Diaghilev and Romina Kolodziej as Romola.  All three of them were superb in role and the scenes between Leushin and Szabo were particularly electric.

 

The performance was very well received with most of the audience on their feet at the end.  I am very glad I was there!

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