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The Great Nijinsky: God of Dance

illus. by Lynn Curlee. 120p. photos. Charlesbridge. Apr. 2019. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781580898003.
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Gr 8 Up—Born to Polish parents who worked as traveling performers, Vaslav Nijinsky was raised to be onstage. After training at the Imperial Ballet School in Russia, Nijinsky began performing and his undeniable skills amazed audiences. He also began choreographing, bringing new and sensational pieces such as The Rite of Spring to the stage. In this biography, Nijinsky's accomplishments on the stage are detailed, accompanied by paintings by the author and archival photographs. "Programs" for Nijinsky's performances, including facts and summaries of the ballets, separate the chapters. The biography focuses on more than just Nijinksy's art, delving into his personal life, including his relationships, sexuality, and his mental health. Curlee provides context for Nijinsky's life and introduces readers to the art scene of the time, including brief biographical sketches of other figures such as Fokine and Stravinsky. Appropriate for preliminary research, and simply for those interested in learning more about Nijinsky, the included back matter provides readers looking to delve deeper with avenues to continue exploring.
VERDICT While contemporary conceptions of sexual identity and mental illness cannot easily be superimposed over historical biographies, readers nevertheless are presented with a full picture of Nijinsky's life.

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