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LGBT People of History 13 - Diaghilev and Nijinsky

Updated on April 24, 2012
Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Diaghilev | Source
Nijinsky dancing
Nijinsky dancing | Source
Vaslav Nijinsky
Vaslav Nijinsky | Source

Diaghilev and Nijinsky

Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872 – 1929) was a Russian impresario who founded the Ballet Russe and took the world by storm in the early twentieth century. He came from a wealthy background and moved to Paris in 1906 where he formed the Ballet Russe. He commissioned ballets from composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Prokofiev and Stravinsky. The ballets he produced were sensational due to their freedom of movement, intrinsic joie de vivre and the exceptional dancers he employed (Nijinsky, Pavlova etc). He was a very hard task master but had a kind side also. He died in Venice and is interred there.

Vaslav Nijinsky (1889 – 1950) was perhaps the most famous dancer of the first half of the twentieth century. His athleticism and intensity of his characterisations became legendary. He joined Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe and danced some of his most famous roles there. He always pushed the envelope and seemed to be an impressionable young man. He married Romola de Pulszky, a domineering woman, in 1913 in South America. Late in WW1 he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent much of the rest of his life in and out of clinics until his death in London in 1950.

Diaghilev and Nijinsky became lovers in 1908. Their relationship was tempestuous and intense, but enabled Nijinsky to produce some of his finest work. The relationship was controlled by Diaghilev, who dismissed Nijinsky from the ballet Russe after he found out that he had married the manipulative Pulszky. However Diaghilev did help to have him removed from internment in Hungary during WW1. Their relationship however never recovered to the heights of before.

Ian and Callum.

With thanks to Wikipedia.

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    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Nijinsky inspired a generation of dancers including Nureyev, Dexter.

      We are going to profile some ladies soon.


    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      I had never heard of these two before. Quite interesting! Thanks!

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      That we are, Callum!


    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Another great one Ian we are one hell of a team :)