Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

Vaslav Nijinsky | The greatest male dancer of the early 20th century

It was his last dance. Vaslav Nijinsky,the Russian dancer and choregrapher of Polish descent encountered a group of Russian soldiers decamped outside of Vienna,during the last days of the World War 2,playing traditional folk tunes. Inspired by the music and his reunion with his ountrymen,Nijinsky leapt into an exquisite dance,astounding the men with the complexity and grace of his figures.

       Vaslsv Nijinsky was born in 1889 or 1890 in Kiev,Ukraine,a part of Russian Empire as Waclaw Nizynski,to ethnic Polish parents,dancers Tomasz Nizynski and Eleonora Bereda.Nijinsky was christened in Warsaw,and considered himself to be a Pole despite difficulties in properly speaking the language as a result of his childhood in Russian's interior where his parents worked.

       In 1900 Nijinsky joined the Imperial Ballet School,where he studied under Enrico Cecchetti,Nikolai Legat,and Pavel Gerdt.In 1904 at the age of just 14 Nijinsky was selected by the great choreographer Marius Petipa to dance a principal role in what proved to be the choregrapher's last ballet,La Romance de rose et d'un Papillon.But the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War.In subsequent years Nijinsky was given several soloist roles.In 1910,the company's Prima ballerina Mathiled Nijinsky to dance in a revival.

       Cited as the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century,he grew to be celebrated for his virtuosity and for the depth and intensity of his characterizations.He could perform en pointe,a rare skill among male dancers at the time and his ability to perform seemingly gravity-defying leaps was also legendary.

       Nijinsky became acquainted with Romola de pulszky,a Hungarian countess.An ardent fan of Nijinsky,she took up ballet and used her family connections to get close to him.Despite her efforts to attract him,Nijinsky initially appeared unaware of her interest.They married while overseas.

       During World War I,Nijinsky was interned in Hungary and it was around this time in his life that signs of his schizophrenia were becoming apparent to members of the company. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and taken to Switzerland by his wife,where he was treated unsuccessfully by psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler.

       He spent the rest of his life in and asylums. Nijinsky died in a clinic in London on April 8,1950 and was buried in London until 1953 when his body was moved to Montmartre Cemetery,Paris,France beside the graves of Gaetan Vestris,Theophile Gautier,and Emma Livry.

Sara Baras| An outstanding Flanmenco exponent

 She stood motionless and free of expression for the few moments of the song. As she began to feel the music,began a steady beat of loud hand clapping. As emotions began to build she started a passionate dance.The dance involved fierce stomping,sometimes got louder with percussion attachments on her shoes and graceful arm movements. It was Sara Pereyra Baras performing the flamenco dance which UNESCO has declared in 2010 as one of the "masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity".

       Sara Baras is one of the internationally famous exponents of flamenco dance form which is a genre of Spanish music,song and dance form from Andalusia.

       She was born in San Fernando,Cadiz,Spain and was taught to dance by her mother,Concha Baras,who ran a dance school in Spain. Sara grew up in the same streets as her "artistic godfather",Camaron de la Isla,the singer she admired most and a man she would later pay tribute to,appearing in many performances in his honour.

       Her artistic break came when she joined Manuel Morao's Gitanos de Jerez,a company set up by the jerezano guitarist whose aim was to showcase new flamence talent from the province of Cadiz.

       In 1991 she went on tour with this company where she spent two months working at the Edward VII Theater in paris and after this,in 1992,she undertook six-month tour of Japan with the Seville born dancer Javier Baron.However,this period of her life was largely taken up by her work with Morao's Gitanos de Jerez and her next stop was the Expo 92 in Seville.

       She also perfprmed at this World Exhilbition accompanied by Manuel Morao in a show that was also showcased at the Town Hall Theater in New York.

       From here her career seemed to snowball and her participation in the tribute concert to the dance Antonio el Bailarin during the 1994 Bienal de Flamenco in Seville secured her popularity as one of the most promising new artistes on the flamenco circuit.

       Her newfound reputation was assured in the same year when she was awarded the Madrono Flamenco in Montellano (Seville) for deing the "Most outstanding artiste of the year". She became a regular performer at the summer flamenco festivals that are held throughout Andalucia and she also participated in the Bienal de la Danza de Lyon.

       She was also noticed by Merche Esmerlda,who realized her potential and hired her as guest dancer in her show Mujeres,and Sara Baras,who herself was already being called the "New Queen of Dance" by writers and critics,also perforned in front of the Queen of Spanin.

       As a also dancer,she took part in several tributes to Camaron de la Isla. In 1997,she started her own company,with which she closed the Festival Nacional de Cante de las Minas. The company's first shows included Sensaciones (1998) and Suenos (1999).

Margot Fonteyn| One of the greatest classical dancers of all time

 Her entire career was spent as a dancer with Royal Ballet and was eventually appointed "Prima Ballerina Assoluta" of the company by HM Queen Elizabeth 2.Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias,DBE,was an English ballerina of the 20th century.She is widely regarded as one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of all time.

          Fonteyn was born Margaret Hookham on 18 May 1919 in Reigate,Surrey,to an English father and a half-Irish half-Brazilian mother;her mother's father was the industrialist Antonio Fontes of Brazil. Very early in her career,Margaret transformed the Fontes into Fonteyn (a surname her bother adopted as well) and Margaret into Margot:thus her stage name.

          Fonteyn was most noted in the ballets of Sir Frederick Ashton,including Ondine,Daphnis and Chloe,and Sylvia. She was especially renowned for her portrayal of Aurora in Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beaut Fonteyn also worked with the choreographer Roland Petit and later in life,Martha Graham. In 1949 when the Royal Ballet toured the United States,Fonteyn instantly became a celebrity for her performances,in the 1940s.

          Fonteyn began her greatest artistic partnership at a time when many (including the head of the Royal Ballet,Ninette de Valois) thought she was about to retire.In 1961 Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West,and on 21 February 1962,he and Fonteyn first performance was a great success;During the curtain calls Nureyev dropped to his knees and kissed Fonteyn's hand.They created an on-and-offstage partnersship that lasted until her 1979 retirement,and were lifelong friends.

          During the late 1930s and early 1940s,Fonteyn had a long relationship with composer Constant Lambert. Lambert expressed some aspects of this in his ballet Horoscope (1938).

          In 1955, Fonteyn married Dr.Roberto Arias,a Panamanian diplomat to London. Their marriage was initially rocky due to his infidelities.She was arrested when he attempted a Panamanian government.In 1964,a rival Panamanian politician shot Arias,leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.Information released on 28 May 2010 indicated Dame Margot knew of,and coup attempt.After her retirement,she spent all her husband and his children from an earlier marriage.Shortly before her husband's death,in 1989,Fonteyn was diagnosed with a cancer and she died on 21 February 1991 in a hospital Panama City.

Rudolf Nureyev| Creator of a new role for male ballet dancers

One of the most celebrated ballet dancers of the 20th century,Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev's artistic skills explored the expressive areas of the dance form,providing a new role to the male ballet dancer who once served only as the support the woman.

          Nureyev was born on 17th March,19,1938 on a Trans-siberin train near Irkutsk,Siberia,Soviet Union,while his mother Feride was travelling to Vladivostok,where his father Hamit,a Red Army political commissar,was stationed.When his mother took him and his sisters into a performance of the ballet "Song of the Cranes",he fell in love with dance. Nureyev was auditioned for the bolshoi ballet company and was accepted.

          By the late 1950s,Nureyev had beocme a sensation in the Soviet Union. Yet,as the Kirov Ballet was preparing to go on a European tour,Nureyev's rebellious character and a non-conformist attitude quickly made him the unlikely candidate for a trip to the West,which was to be of crucial importance to the the Soviet government's ambitions to portray their cultural supermacy. However,in 1961,the Kirov's leading male dancer,Konstanin Sergeyev,was injured,and Nureyev was chosen to replace him on the Kirov's European tour.In paris,his performances electrified audiences electrified audiences and critics.

         Nureyev was seen to have broken the rules about mingling with foreigners,which alarmed the Kirov's management.The KGB wanted to send him back to the Soviet Union immediately. As a subterfuge,they told him that he would not travel with the company to London to continune the tour because he was needed to dance at a special performance in the Kremlin.When that didn't work they told him his mother had fallen severely ill and he needed to come home immediately to see her. He knew these were lies and believed that if he returned to the USSR,he would likely be imprisoned because KGB agents had been investing him.

          On 16 June 1961at the Le Bourget Airport in Paris,Rudolf Nureyev defected with the help of French police and Parisian socilite friend Clara Saint.According to KGB archives studied by Peter Wastson,Nikita Khrushchev Personally signed an order to have Nureyev killed.Within a week,he was signed up by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas and was performing the Sleeping Beauty with Nina Vyroubova. On a tour of Denmark he met Erik Bruhn,soloist at the Royal Danish Ballet who became his lover,his clouset friend and his protector until Bruhn's death in 1986.

          He was tested positive for HIV in 1984,but for several years he simply denied that anything was wrong with his health.Nureyev began a marked decline only in the summer of 1991 and entered the final phase of the disease in the spring of 1992.

          He died from carediac complication a few months later,aged 54. His funeral was held in the marble foyer of the Paris Garnier Opera House.Nureyev's grave,at a Russian cemetery in Sainte Genevieve-des-Bois near Paris,features a tomb draped in a mosaic of an oriental carpet.

Michael Jackson| American Superstar

 A musical prodigy, Michael Jackson's singing and dancing talents were amazingly mature,and focus of The Jackson 5 comprising his brothers Jackie,Tito,Jermaine and Marlon..

            An opening act for such soul groups as the O-Jays and James Brown,it was Gladys Kight who officially brought the group to Berry Gordy;s attention,and by 1969,the boys were producing back-to-back chartbusting hits as Motown artists ("I Want You Back","ABC"."Never can Say Goodbye","Got to Be There,"etc.). As a product of the 1970s,the boys emerged as one of the most accomplished black pop/soul vocal groups in music history,successfully evoliving from a group like The Temptations to a disco phenomenon.

            Michael Jackson was born in Gary,Indiana,on August 29,1958,and entertained audiences nearly his entire life.His father,Joe Jackson,had been a guitarist but was forced to give up his musical interests at home.

            Solo success for Michael was inevitable,and by the 1980s,he had become infinitely more popular than his brotherly group.Record sales consistently orbited,culminating in the biggest-selling album of all time,"Thriller" in 1982.A TV natural,he ventured rather uneasily into films,such as playing the Scarecrow in The Wiz (1978),but had muth better luck with elaborate music videos.

            In 1977 Michael made his first film debut when he starred in the musical "The Wiz"playing Scarecrow with Diana Ross in the lead role of Dorothy.In 1984 Michael won a record breaking 8 Grammy awards in one night.The awards were for his work on the 'Thriller' album and narrative for the 'ET Storybook'.

            After many successes in September,2001 Michael celebrated his 30th anniversary as a solo artist with two concerts to be held in New York.USA.Later in March 2009,Michael annouced a shock comeback tour at the O2 Arena in London to start in July 2009,intially for 10 dates but the total grew to a sold out 50 dates with over 750,000 tickets sold.All sold tickets sold out within minutes of being released.

            In the 1990s,the downside as an 1980s pop phenomenon began to rear itself. Michael grew terribly child-like and introverted by his peerless celebrity.A rather timorous,androgynous figure to begin with,his physical appearance began to change drastically,and his behavior grew alarmingly for scandal-making,despite his numerous charitable acts.

            Two brief marriages-one to Elvis presley's daughter Lisa Maric Presley-were forged and two children produced by his second wife during that time,but the purposes behind then appeared image-oriented.Despite it all,Michael Jackson's passion and artistry as a singer,dancer,writer and businessman are unparalleled,and it is these prodigious talents that will ultimately prevall over the extermely negative aspects of his seriously troubled abult life.

            For it all to end on June 25,2009,with his sudden death at age 50 of a drug-induced cardiac arrest,just as he was coming out of a four-year reclusive period and rehearsing for a sold-out London concert "comeback" in July,seems uncommonly cruel and tragic. Millions upon millions of dedicated fans will remember where they were "the day Michael died".

Rukmini Devi Arundale| Important revivalist of Bharata Natyam

When Bharata Natyam was considered a low and vulgar art in the 1930s Rukmini Devi espoused the cause of this classical dance form despite strong public protests. Recognizing the beauty and the spiritual value of this art form,she not only learned the dance,but also presented it on stage despite strong public protests.

          Rukmini Devi was considered as the most important revivalist in the Indian classical dance form of Bharat Natyam from its original 'sadhir' style,prevalent amongst the temple dancers,Devadasis,she also worked for the re-establishment of traditional Indian arts and crafts.

          Rukmini Devi features in India Today's list of '100 People who shaped India' She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956,and sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1967.

         Rukmini Devi was born on 29 February 1904 in an upper class Brahmin family in Madurai.Her father in Neelakanta Sastri was an engineer with the Public Works Department and a scholar,and Seshammal was a music enthusiast. He had a transferable job and the family moved frequently.He was introduced to the Theosophical Society in 1901.Deeply influenced by the Theosphical Movement as a follower of Dr.Annie Besant,Neelakanta Sastri moved to Adyar,Chennai upon retirement,where he built his home near the headquarters of the Theosophical Society Adyar.It was here that young Rukmini was exposed to not just theosophical thought,but also new ideas on culture,theatre,music and dance,and later met the prominent British Theosophist Dr.George Arundale,who was a close associate of Annie Besant and later the principal of the Cantral Hindu College in Varanasi,and soon build a lasting bond with him.

   They got married in 1920 much to the shock of the then conservative society.

         In 1928,the famous Russian ballerina Anna Povlova visited Bombay and the performance,and later happened to travel on the same ship as her,to Austrelia where she was to perform next;over the course of the journey their friendship grew,and soon Rukmini Devi started learning dance from one of Anna's leading solo dancers,Cleo Nordi.It was later at the dehest of Anna that Rukmini Devi turned her attention to discovering traditional Indian dance forms,which had fallen to disrepute and dedicated the rest of her life into their revival.

         Originally known as sadhir,the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam owes its current name,to E.Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale,who has been instrumental in modifying mainly the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam and bringing it to the global attention,and removing the extraneous sringaar and erotic elements from the dance,which were the legacy of its Devadasi association in the past,thereby raising it to the status of puritan art form.

         In 1977,Morarji Desai offered to nominate her for the post of President of India,which she turned down. Rukmini Devi Arundale died on 24 February 1986 at Chennai.               

Isadora Duncan| creator of modern dance

       Isadora Duncan's philosophy of dance moved away from rigid ballet technique and towards what she perceived as natural movement. To restore dance to a high art form instead of entertainment,she sought the connection between emotions and movement.

       She wanted the dance to be the divine expression of the human spirit through the medium of the body's movement.Duncan was inspired by ancient Greece and combined it with an American love of freedom.This is exemplified in her revolutionary costume of a white Grecian tunic and bare feet.Inspired by Grecian forms,her tunice also allowed a freedom of movement corseted ballet costumes were not the only inspiration Duncan took from Greece.Both in her professional and private lives,Duncan flouted traditional mores and morality.

       Considered by many to be the creator of modern dance Angela Isadora Duncan was born on May 27th,1877 in San Franciso,California,as the youngest of four siblings.Her two brothers were Augustin Duncan and Raymond Duncan;her sister Elizabeth Duncan was also a dancer.

       Their  parents were Joseph Charles Duncan (1819-1898),a banker,mining engineer and connoisseur of the arts,and Mary Isadora Gray (1819-1922).Soon after Isadora's birth,her father lost the bank and he was publicy disgraced and the family became extremely poor.

       Her Parents were divorced by 1880 (the papers were lost in the San Francisco earthquake),and her mother moved with her family to Oakland.She worked there as a pianist and music teacher.In her early years,Duncan did attend school but,finding it to be constricting to her individuality,she dropped out.she dropped out.Asher family was very poor,both she and her sister gave dance classes to local children to earn extra money Duncan's fondness for flowing scarves was the cause of her death in an automobile accident in Nice,France,when she was passenger in an Amilcar.Her slik scarf,draped around her neck,became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle,breaking her neck.She lived in Western Europe and the Soviet Union from the age of 22 until her death at age 50.

       Duncan began her dancing career by teaching lessons in her home from the time she was six through her teenage years. Her different approach to dance is evident in these preliminary classes,in which she "followed [her] head".Duncan bore two children,both out of wedlock and both children died in an accident on the Seine River on April 19,1913,In 1922 she married the Russian poet Sergei Yesenin who was 18 years'her junior.Yesenin accompanied her on a tour of Europe and the United States.The following year he left Duncan and returned to Moscow.He committed suicide in 1925,aged 30.Duncan also had an affair with poet and playwright Mercedes de Acosta which is documented in numerous revealing letters they wrote to each other.

       Duncan restored dance to a high plase among the arts.Breaking with convention,she tracad the art of dance back to its roots as a sacred art,folk dances, social dances,nature and natural forces as well as an approach to the new American athleticim which included skipping,running,jumping,leaping and tossing.