The world-renown German ballet company is on a United States tour with “Nijinsky and “The Little Mermaid,” both choreographed by John Neumeier, its Milwaukee-born dancer/director and chief choreographer.
Created in 2000 by Neumeier, “Nijinsky” was a tribute on the 50th anniversary of the Polish-Russian dancer’s death.
The ballet opens at the Suvretta House Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland, where Nijinsky gave his last performance. After thinking he spots former mentor and lover Sergei Diaghilev in the audience Nijinsky recalls past successes at the Ballets Russes which Diaghilev directed, and his personal problems through several dream-like sequences.
To express Nijinsky’s turmoil, Neumeier turned to Dimitri Shostakovich, 3rd movement of the 11th Symphony op. 103. “There is so much of the inner world of Nijinsky in this music,” Neumeier said during a recent luncheon.
He uses Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “ Scheherazade” op 35 to interpret some famous Nijinsky roles. “It is the external side, the highlights of his career,” Neumeier said.
The ballet also uses Frederic Chopin’s “Prelude” No. 20 and Robert Schumann’s “ Faschingsschwank aus Wien” op. 26.
The woman in red in the ballet is Romola de Pulsky whom Nijinski meets aboard a voyage to South America and marries. This angers Diaghilev who dismisses Nijinski.
Part II of the ballet projects Nijinsky’s despair at his wife’s infidelity, World War I and in not performing. It also is an interpretation of Nijinsky’s descent in madness.
“In Nijinskyh’s eyes, it is the world around him, not Nijinsky that has gone mad,” Neumeier said.
Details: “Nijinsky” is 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1-2 at Harris Theater, Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL 60601. Tickets are $30-$75. For tickets and more information call 312-334-7777 and visit Harris Theater.