Dance review: NIJINSKY

In his refined way, choreographer Goecke planted innuendos to several of the legendary dancer’s roles in Nijinsky.

(photo credit: REGINA BROCKE)
With Stuttgart’s Gauthier Dance Company’s award winning production Nijinsky, choreographer Marco Goecke joins John Neumeier and others in the attempt to decipher in movement the tempestuous persona and stage career of Vaslav Nijinsky, a dancer endowed with unparalleled virtuosity, magnetic charisma and groundbreaking creativity.
Tragically, his very short career ended dramatically (1919) after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Goecke decided to leave aside any attempt to depict Nijinsky’s detailed life story, or put it in the context of the early 20th century, an era which witnessed revolutionary changes in everything from music, dance and art to socio-political perceptions. Goecke looked for the process whereby art and the emotional fiber of the artist affected one another. He wonders whether great artists need a measure of madness to grow.
To explore this theme through dance, Goecke sought a different movement vocabulary, mostly form-based and partially expressionist, yet not a part of any particular discipline.
Furthermore, he relied on balletic positions to establish the solidity of the work’s structural frame, allowing for sporadic stylistic deviations and containing eruptions of swift and forceful repetitive gestures.
This vocabulary is applied to a hectic series of short scenes, filled with fragmented images, hinting at over-excitement and mental instability.
One soon finds the rather complex, original way in which these fragments reveal subtle references to stages of Nijinsky’s career and creations, as well as to his often warped relationships, including to his mentor, lovers, wife and more.
In his refined way, Goecke also planted innuendos to several of the legendary dancer’s roles, by various means.
Goecke avoided some built-in pitfalls in portraying the actual singularity of Nijinsky, counting on specific strengths of Gauthier’s dancers. It turned out to be very cohesive work dealing with the way passion frees the soul to find its own path, as Goecke did.