Review of The Great Nijinsky, by Lynn Curlee

The Great Nijinsky

God of Dance

by Lynn Curlee

Charlesbridge Teen, 2019. 112 pages.
Review written May 12, 2020, from a library book
A 2020 Capitol Choices selection
2020 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalist

The Great Nijinsky: God of Dance is a biography of Vaslav Nijinsky, who took the world of ballet by storm in 1909, when he was only 20 years old.

Nijinsky danced only ten more years but is still considered one of the greatest dancers of all time. He also choreographed some groundbreaking ballets, beginning an entirely new style for the twentieth century.

Much of the book focuses on Nijinsky’s status as one of the first wildly popular performer celebrities. People would even break into his dressing room for souvenirs. He was a sex symbol, especially with some of the new suggestive choreography, and he was the center of scandal for being openly the lover of a man at the start of his career. He later married a woman who’d become obsessed with him and was probably bisexual. Tragically, the last thirty years of his life, he stopped performing because of mental illness.

An interesting part of this book is the series of paintings of Nijinsky in various roles. We learn in the author’s note at the back that the author painted many of them life-size in the 1970s, long before he’d ever thought of writing a book to go with his paintings. So this book was the culmination of a long-held interest in Vaslav Nijinsky.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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