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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Nijinsky (Profile Books), by Lucy Moore

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Western civilization felt exhausted in the years before World War I; Russian culture was welcomed as a source of new color, texture and rhythm. Nowhere was Russian influence felt as strikingly as in ballet and no one was a brighter star in the Ballets Russes than Vaslav Nijinsky. Lucy Moore’s biography (out now in paperback) is immensely enjoyable to read, well crafted from research that follows the dancer’s story through his impoverished origins through the dazzling heights he achieved before the madness of his final years. Even before he danced at the premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913), Nijinsky had surpassed the necessity of skill and arrived at something like ecstasy.