The Great Nijinsky: God of Dance

By: Lynn Curlee

Illustrator: Lynn Curlee

Dance prodigy, sex symbol, gay pioneer, cultural icon—Vaslav Nijinsky rose to fame as the star of the Ballets Russes in Paris before mental illness stole his career and the last thirty years of his life. A tragic story of a great genius gone mad, this compelling work of narrative nonfiction chronicles a life of obsessive artistry, celebrity, and notoriety. With one grand leap off the stage at the 1909 premiere of the Ballets Russes’s inaugural season, Nijinsky became an overnight sensation and the century’s first superstar, in the days before moving pictures brought popular culture to the masses. Perhaps the greatest dancer of the twentieth century, Nijinsky captured audiences with his sheer animal magnetism and incredible skill.

Author’s note. List of Nijinsky’s performances. “Ballet Performances Online.” Source notes. Bibliography. Index. Full-color illustrations done in acrylic. Full-color and black-and-white photographs and reproductions.

ISBN: 9781580898003

JLG Release: Jul 2019


Sensitive Areas: Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism
Topics: Vaslaw Nijinsky (1890–1950) , Ballet dancers , Russia , Biography , Choreographers

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Awards & Honors

2020 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award Finalist
YALSA Award Honoree - 2020

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews

Horn Book

Vaslav Nijinsky (1890–1950) was the brightest star of the Ballets Russes, a vir¬tuoso dancer and choreographer the likes of whom no one had ever before seen. This heartfelt biography traces Nijinsky’s trajectory from a lonesome childhood through his 1909 Paris debut, ensuing mega-stardom, and notoriety as a bound¬ary-breaking choreographer to Vaslav Nijinsky (1890–1950) was the brightest star of the Ballets Russes, a vir¬tuoso dancer and choreographer the likes of whom no one had ever before seen. This heartfelt biography traces Nijinsky’s trajectory from a lonesome childhood through his 1909 Paris debut, ensuing mega-stardom, and notoriety as a bound¬ary-breaking choreographer to his diagnosis of schizophrenia and, at age thirty, his institutionalization. In his five short years with the Ballet Russes, “Vatsa” originated several of ballet’s most iconic roles and created the landmark modern¬ist works The Afternoon of a Faun and The Rite of Spring (the latter considered so scandalous its premiere incited a riot). Curlee sensitively explores Nijinsky’s contradictions as a magnetic, expressive dancer with little social grace; a provoca¬tive performer and sex symbol tormented by his own sexual desires and behaviors; a bisexual man who has retroactively become a celebrated “gay icon” but who passively “followed in [the] wake” of his out-and-proud partner, impresario Sergei Diaghilev; and a visionary artist intent on documenting his descent into mental illness. Beautifully designed, the book is punctuated with theater program–like spreads with brief descriptions of ballets accompanied by Curlee’s striking jewel-toned portraits and archival photographs.

Book Details

ISBN

9781580898003

First Release

July 2019

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

792.8092

Trim Size

10" x 7 1/2"

Page Count

128

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Charlesbridge

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism

Topics

Vaslaw Nijinsky (1890–1950), Ballet dancers, Russia, Biography, Choreographers,

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