Role models of greatness.
Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
While still a teenager, Nijinsky, possessed of a distinctly androgynous appearance, had a homosexual affair with the much older Prince Pavel Dimitrievitch Lvov, who showered him with luxuries, providing an apartment, splendid clothes and diamond rings; as well, the prince assisted Nijinsky’s mother financially. His affair with the prince was quickly followed by one with Count Tishkievitch. During that time Nijinsky became the leading star of the Mariinsky Ballet and was a frequent guest star at the Bolshoi Ballet, in spite of his being short and having a stocky build. His most famous partner was none other than Anna Pavlova, and his talent and fame were such that he counted Tsar Nicholas II among his patrons. By the time he was nineteen, Vaslav had begun his romantic and professional partnership with dance impresario Sergei Diaghilev, a Russian nobleman under whose tutelage Nijinsky became known as the God of Dance. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes dance company was without peer in Europe, and Nijinsky became its star by the age of twenty.
While on tour in South America later that year, he impulsively married Romola de Pulszky, a Hungarian corps-de-ballet dancer who had been chasing him around the globe. Their wedding in Buenos Aires resulted in professional tragedy. Enraged when he got the news, Diaghilev fired him. Nijinsky attempted to strike out on his own, but was unsuccessful in starting his own dance troupe. Accustomed to being adored, pampered and lavished with luxuries, he found himself broke, unemployed and responsible for supporting a manipulative, domineering wife and children in Hungary, while still in his mid-20s. When WW I broke out, he was living in Budapest and, as a Russian citizen, was incarcerated as an enemy prisoner of war. In 1916 Diaghilev rescued him by arranging for Vaslav and his family to arrive in New York City, so he could join a Russian touring company. Nijinsky’s wife was jealous of the former lovers’ reunion and thwarted their reconciliation at every turn. As a result, Diaghilev abandoned Nijinsky and returned to Europe, while the tour company struggled under Nijinsky’s inept management.
His career in ruins and bereft of a patron, Nijinsky realized that his marriage had been a grave mistake. He was also depressed by the war and began to recede into delusion. His homophobic wife was also delusional, in that she perceived Vaslav as a passive victim of Diaghilev’s lechery, and herself as her husband’s savior, when, in fact, she had single handedly ruined his career. But she was just getting started. Romola committed Nijinsky to a mental institution in Switzerland in 1919, where drugs and experimental shock treatments were administered in an attempt to cure his homosexuality and depression. He was only 29 years old at the time, and his wife’s actions effectively destroyed him – he never danced again. For the next 30 years he was shuttled between private homes and institutions until he died of kidney failure in London in 1950.
Vaslav lay buried in London until 1953, when his body was moved to the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris, over the strong objections of Romola. When she died of cancer in 1978, Nijinsky's family refused to bury her beside him. In 2005, after a long legal battle, Nijinsky's sepulcher was opened and Romola was re-buried next to Nijinsky, but her name was not added to the tombstone.
La Danse Siamoise (The Siamese Dance 1910) to music by Carl Sinding; the choreography was Nijinsky’s own. This was but one movement from the ballet suite, Les Orientales, with music by various composers, including Edvard Grieg, Anton Arensky, and Alexander Glazunov.