Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: With the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, who enlisted him as a premier dancer in the Ballet Russe company, Nijinsky established the popularity of Russian ballet throughout the Western world in the second decade of the twentieth century. As a choreographer, he was also very instrumental in adapting dance movements to the new music of the twentieth century, especially that of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
Vaslav Nijinsky was born in Kiev when his dancer parents were on tour in the Ukraine. Both of his parents, Eleonora Nikolayevich and Thomas, were Polish, and when young Vaslav was two they took him to Warsaw for baptism in the Catholic religion. Vaslav was the second of three children. An elder brother, Stanislav, was mentally retarded following a fall at age six. The youngest was Bronisława, who became a celebrated ballerina in St. Petersburg. After Thomas deserted the family, Eleonora took the children to St. Petersburg and enrolled Vaslav, then age nine, in the Imperial School of Ballet. The celebrated dancer Nicholas Legat noticed his athleticism and recommended his admittance. He began his studies there in 1898, graduating in 1907. He quickly caught the eyes of the critics with his exceptional leaping ability. Aside from dance, Nijinsky was a poor student and was teased by other boys for his Tatar-like features. Young Nijinsky never made a real friend there.
(The entire section is 2149 words.)
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