The Ballet Greats – Vaslav Nijinsky

On March 12 it is the birthday of Vaslav Nijinsky – 12th March 1889. Nijinsky was one of the greatest male dancers of the 20th century – along with Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. He was not only a great ballet dancer but also a choreographer, creating a number of ballets that were considered controversial at the time.

When I was about 10 years old a friend of my parents gave me a paperback book about the life of Vaslav Nijinsky. It was old and well used but I loved it!

I had never heard of Nijinsky before that and avidly looked through the centre of the book where all the pictures were.

I don’t know what it is about Nijinsky but he has such poise and communicates such emotion. I have since seen a few clips of him actually dancing which brings the photos to life and his dancing is mesmerising.

This inspired me to create a drawing of Nijinsky. This was no small feat because the pages of the book were around 4 inches wide and the photos, dating back to the early 1900’s, were very small, grainy and dark.

It’s funny how, when you’re a child, nothing seems impossible so I put pencil to paper and drew the picture. It of this photo from the ballet L’Apres-midi d’un Faune.

Since that time I have done many drawings of him – some small, some large. I don’t have that original drawing but here are just a few of the early ones – approximately 35 years old!

I like to think I’ve improved over the years and these are some of the more recent drawings.

The last 3 drawings are available to buy.