Nijinsky's first ballet
"Nijinsky's first ballet L'Après-midi d'un faune is a landmark in the history of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. It marked the close of its first period in which Fokine was predominant, and emergence of the dancer Nijinsky as a choreographer whose ideas, stimulated no doubt by Diaghilev, lay outside, and even ran counter, to the classical tradition of St. Petersburg. Prepared with an unprecedented number of rehearsals, the ballet puzzled the Paris public when first performed at Théâtre du Châtelet on May 12, 1912, but the role of the faun, with its hints of sensuality and languor, was to eclipse the more virtuosic parts on which Nijinsky's reputation in Western Europe originally rested. After a nervous breakdown tragically brought his career to an end in 1918, the ballet survived and has been handed down, somewhat fitfully, to the present day. Few people were aware that Nijinsky had recorded the choreography of Faune in his own system of notation in 1914-15, and those that were could not read it until Ann Hutchinson Guest and Claudia Jeschke deciphered it in 1988. The result of their work is the ballet as Nijinsky conceived it, a ballet considerably more subtle than the increasingly corrupted version that has been handed down by memory. Its reconstruction reveals Nijinsky as a creative artist of exceptional intellectual calibre with an insight into human movement greatly in advance of his time."
- Ivor Guest