Monday, June 3, 2019

The Great Nijinsky: God of Dance by Lynn Curlee –OPTIONAL

The Great Nijinsky: God of Dance by Lynn Curlee. BIOGRAPHY 112 pages, Charlesbridge Teen, 2019 $20
Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG13 (STD, Prostitution, Masturbation, and Sexuality); Violence: G



Readers learn about the tumultuous life of Vaslav Nijinsky from his rigorous training, to his brief but wild success, and the his fall into mental illness. He was born in the Ukraine in 1889 and trained almost his entire youth as a dancer. In his career he was a super star and when given the opportunity to choreograph for himself, he was ahead of his time and pushed the boundaries of traditional ballet both in dance form and topics. For some years during the height of his fame he lived in an openly gay relationship though he did end up marrying a woman and having a child. Tragically, the last half of his life was marked by severe mental illness.

This is right there on the edge of being for adults, both in the complexity of the writing as well as the content. If Vaslav had been a pioneer in gay rights, this would probably be a good book to add to your collection. But he was more swept into his lifestyle, with the key ballet director as his lover, which ensured his success. Which had sort of a Hollywood style #metoo type feel, though that isn’t discussed in the book. The artistic portraits of Vaslav are gorgeous and add a lot to a fleshing out life that wasn’t photographed very often.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

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