Festival preview: Nijinsky's Last Jump

This article is from 2015

Festival preview: Nijinsky's Last Jump

Company Chordelia's new show is inspired by the one of the 20th century's most famous dancers

In Nijinsky’s Last Jump, the iconic dancer is shown as an obsessive risk-taker. We talk to choreographer Kally Lloyd-Jones about putting his different lives on stage

You don’t become the greatest male dancer of the 20th century without taking a few risks. And when it came to pushing boundaries in the early 1900s, Vaslav Nijinsky was at the front of the queue. But at what cost? That’s the question choreographer Kally Lloyd-Jones will be asking in Nijinsky’s Last Jump, her new show for Company Chordelia.

‘I’m interested in the idea of obsession and perfectionism,’ she says. ‘And what it was like to be part of such an exciting time in the history of the arts, with all those incredible composers and designers and this sudden rush for change. But I’m particularly interested in Nijinsky’s inner life: his mental state and the relationship between that and his creativity. The way in which people submerged themselves so intensely in what they were doing often meant they couldn’t find their way back out again.’

Best known for his ground-breaking works with the famous Ballets Russes – including L’après-midi d’un faune and The Rite of Spring – Nijinsky was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for much of his life. Using two performers to depict his adult and younger self, Lloyd-Jones will fuse text and choreography to explore his life; not chronologically or biographically, but emotionally.

Working with writer Michael Daviot, she has been inspired by Nijinsky’s own diaries, plus the many photographic and painted images created of him during his time on stage. ‘In a time when the notion of celebrity was quite new, and the way information was disseminated was very different, what we have left is very little in the way of film,’ she says. ‘But what we do have are iconic images, and through those he has become an icon for change and for taking risks.’

Nijinsky’s Last Jump, Dance Base, Grassmarket, 0131 225 5525, 11–23 Aug (not 17), 2pm, £10 (£8). Previews 7–9 Aug, £8 (£6).

Nijinsky's Last Jump

Award-winning two man dance theatre piece that takes you inside the troubled psyche of legendary dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky.