To start this week off on the right foot (haHA crappy Monday jokes), here’s Vaslav Nijinsky (March 12, 1898 – April 8, 1950), a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer of Polish descent wildly considered the greatest dancer of the 20th century. He was one of the few male dancers who could dance en pointe and he apparently had ups to rival Michael Jordan (citation needed).
He was introduced to dance by his parents, who were also dancers, and he entered the Imperial Ballet School in Russia before he was 10. In 1909, he joined the Ballets Russes (founded by Sergei Diaghilev who eventually became Nijinsky’s lover…more on that later) and rose in popularity and acclaim as the star dancer of the company.
Along the lines of Lisztomania, the public went insane when they watched him perform (and even went on panty raids backstage): “An electric shock passed through the entire audience. Intoxicated, entranced, gasping for breath, we followed this superhuman being… the power, the featherweight lightness, the steel-like strength, the suppleness of his movements…” I’m not even sure how one would execute a panty raid on a member of the corps de ballet. Are there panties to raid? Anyhoo…
We also have to spend some time here talking about how he married his fangirl stalker. No, really. (For more ridiculous details, see #3 on this Cracked article here. “Romola de Pulszky Shared Her Sexy, Schizophrenic Husband With His Male Boss” sums it up pretty darn well.) Her name was Romola de Pulszky and apparently, she saw him perform once and then made a determined effort to get to know him (i.e., broke off her previous engagement, followed his touring company across Europe, convinced Diaghilev that she was a rich benefactress to get his attention and secure ballet lessons with one of the troupes dance-masters, AND, despite his continual ignoring of her, booked train compartments and hotel rooms next to him and told people she wanted to have his child. YIKES.).
Even MORE strangely, he randomly proposed to her (through halting French and mime, since neither spoke the others’ language. No, I am not making this up.). I mean, look at this crap:
“On board ship, Romola had a cabin in first class, which allowed her to keep a watch on Nijinsky’s door, while most of the company were exiled to second class. She befriended his masseur and was rewarded with a rundown on his musculature. Determined to take every opportunity, she succeeded in spending more and more time in his company. The unexpected friendliness was noticed by Baron de Gunsbourg, an investor in the Ballets Russes, who had been tasked with keeping an eye on the company. Instead of reporting back to Diaghilev on what was occurring, Gunsbourg agreed to act on Nijinsky’s behalf in presenting a proposal of marriage to Romola. Romola thought a cruel joke was being played on her, and ran off to her cabin crying. However, Nijinsky asked her again, in broken French and mime, and she accepted. Although Gunsbourg had a financial interest in Ballets Russes, he was also interested in forming his own company, and a split between Diaghilev and his star dancer might have presented him with an opportunity. … Back in Europe, Diaghilev “gave himself to a wild orgy of dissipation…Sobbing shamelessly in Russian despair, he bellowed accusations and recriminations; he cursed Nijinsky’s ingratitude, Romola’s treachery, and his own stupidity”.
…BUT THE CRAZY CONTINUES.
“As the company was due to start performing immediately, there was no honeymoon. A few days after the marriage, Nijinsky tried to teach Romola some ballet, but she was not interested. “I asked her to learn dancing because for me dancing was the highest thing in the world”, “I realized that I had made a mistake, but the mistake was irreparable. I had put myself in the hands of someone who did not love me.” Romola and Nijinsky did not share accommodation until after the season was safely underway, when she was eventually invited to join him in separate bedrooms in his hotel suite. She “almost cried with thankfulness” that he showed no interest in making love on their wedding night.”
I’ve got nothing, folks. If you want even more of the crazy, check out that Cracked article that I linked; it includes bisexual affairs, more crazy letter writing, revisionist history, attempts to pray away Nijinsky’s homosexuality, bouts of schizophrenia, and an eventual committal to an asylum. He died in a London clinic in 1950 and his body is buried at Montmartre Cemetery in Paris. Despite his Jerry Springeresque marital dysfunction, he’ll forever be known as one of the most outstanding and sensual performers to ever grace the stage.