More or less the greatest ballet ever Go to your sofa and see „Nijinsky“! John Neumeier created it in 2000, and now a DVD is on the market. Arte shows it first on Sunday, but around midnight

"Nijinsky" by John Neumeier is now as DVD on the market.

Alexandre Riabko is „Nijinsky“ – in the ballet made completely by John Neumeier. Photo: Kiran West

Maybe this is the greatest ballet in the history of dance, because it contains in a highly brilliant way the biography and the work of the most important ballet dancer who has ever lived. No, this is not Rudolf Nureyev, but the very famous and also very tragic star of the Ballets Russes, Vaslav Nijinsky. Hamburg’s ballet boss John Neumeier was inspired by a book about Nijinsky very early in his live – and made his decision to become a dancer and choreographer by himself when he was reading this book. 18 years ago, he created a ballet about the soul and art of Nijinsky that has already been shown and celebrated in most continents. Now the DVD with Hamburg Ballet is on the market – with fabulous Alexandre Riabko in the title role. Read more about this cast in German here, please. Arte shows its recording directed by Thomas Grimm on 15th of April, 2018 (next Sunday), but at late night, starting 45 minutes after midnight.- Oh, arte changed the point of time when it will start, so it will begin ten minutes after midnight (even much too late).

Nevertheless the piece will find its audience.

Multiple styles and scenes herein are mixed up to a collage about Nijinsky’s themes.

But this is not just a medley, it is, indeed, a complex choreographic work with many references to all the ballets Nijinsky created or danced in his live.

"Nijinsky" by John Neumeier is now as DVD on the market.

Alexandre Riabko as „Nijinsky“ dances with his scandal role, the Faun, and with Romola, his wife… and we take part in John Neumeier’s ballet. On the picture here from the Hamburg Ballet we see the cast with Karen Azatyan and Hélène Bouchet as Nijinsky’s dance partners. Photo: Kiran West

So we see the „Sacre“, we see the „Spectre“, we see „Sheherazade“ and „Jeux“, the „Faun“ and „Petrushka“, but we see also Nijinsky’s very last performance that took place in the ballroom of the Hotel Suvretta Houe in Switzerland when the well-known artist was mentally ill and could not work steadily any more.

That was in 1919, and the story in the ballet starts here.

Neumeier who created all – lighting, set, costume design and of course the choreography – was inspired by reality (photos of the hotel and the figures) as well as by sketches by Léon Bakst who worked several times for the Ballets Russes, and they were the company, Nijinsky became famous with.

Their impresario here is also dancing to act, it is Serge Diaghilev, danced by Ivan Urban.

"Nijinsky" by John Neumeier is now as DVD on the market.

This relationship is full of love and hate: „Nijinsky“ (Alexandre Riabko, left) and Diaghilev (Ivan Urban, right). Photo: Kiran West / Hamburg Ballet

By the way, in the internationally known interpretation of this piece by the National Ballet of Canada, a former ballerino from Stuttgart – elegant and expressive Evan McKie – dances the role of Diaghilev, in combination with the role of Petrushka. With a special make-up in the face and a very pure energy in the body, he created an own style to show how intensively happiness and tragedy were mixed up in Njinsky’s live.

In this recording, Lloyd Riggins dances Petrushka, and it is one of his very best parts, full of live and passion.

Primoballerinos like graceful and handsome Alexandr Trusch personify the memories and the past roles of Nijinsky.

"Nijinsky" by John Neumeier is now as DVD on the market.

Evan McKie with his make-up for Petrushka in John Neumeier’s „Nijinsky“ – a very extraordinary interpretation, full of suspense and mixed feelings. Facsimile from Facebook: Gisela Sonnenburg

And Aleix Martínez illustrates with tremendous power the touching breakdown of Nijinsky’s brother who was mentally insane in a very young age.

The whole piece is structured like a mere or a series of strange dreams, with few happy or even complicated moments whithin. It is framed by Nijinsky’s last performance in the Suvretta House.

The relationship of the insane artist to his wife, the dancer Romola Nijinsky – here danced with faith in the beautiful eyes by primaballerina Carolina Agüero – is also shown with a lot of feeling in the fingertips and in the beautiful steps.

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In a heartbreaking pas de deux, she helps him by holding him, leading him, pulling him on a sled.

How much women suffer and work emotionally behind the scenaries of a marriage, here we can suspect it!

Last but not least World War I breaks into Nijinsky’s mind and changes his perception of the world. Soldiers dance this with heavy rhythms, meanwhile „Le Sacre du Printemps“ is created by Nijinsky, shouting out his pain.

The ballet ends where it started, but with a really enormous final solo.

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Dancing and fighting with long textile drapes, Nijinsky seems to slide into another universe, and the dramatic music composed by Dmitri Shostakovich completes the impression that here mankind itself loses ist last chance.

Know it, love it – or stay blind for a real modern ballet culture!
Gisela Sonnenburg

Online you can enjoy it from 16th until 22nd of April 2018 on www.arte.tv

The DVD „Nijinsky – A ballet by John Neumeier“ came out with C Major Entertainment 2018

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