How do you describe someone like Nijinsky? To define him as a ballet dancer is not enough. I believe he was a dancer first, and a humanist second, which made him one of the most sensual passionate dancers in history. He was not a classical dancer by today’s standards. Although his ballet education and technique came from the prestigious Vaganova Academy, he was an exotic and empathic dancer. What I mean by empathic is that he danced with feeling, and in his diary you will often hear him asking us to live and dance with feeling instead of knowing. This is what made him truly brilliant and gravity defying. He is described as having lived in the air during the dance by Feodor Chapin. Nijinsky quite simply was not from this world. He was ahead of his times in choreography, which lead him to being misunderstood. I believe it was Diaghilev’s and his wife’s perception of him being “crazy” that indeed drove him to a psychosis.
According to his sister Bronislava Nijinska’s memoires, Vaslav was a very sensitive and emotional person. This sensitivity made him much more human, and one of my heroes. Vaslav was one of the first vegetarians, in his diary he wrote, “I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death, I left in order not to see their death. I could not bear it I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe, I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb. I chose a mountain, where there were no people. I was afraid of being ridiculed,” (70). He also said quite often in his diary that he felt lighter and more energetic by being a vegetarian.
There is a genius quality to Njinsky as a dancer and as a person. He seems to have understood the implications of eating meat and industrialization before most of us even began discussing global warming, “The earth will also be like Mars but in a few hundred years hence. The earth is suffocating, therefore I am asking everybody to abandon factories and listen to me. I know this is necessary for the salvation of the earth,” (133). My heart aches for Vaslav when I read his diary. I understand what it is like to warn people of something over and over again, and for them to dismiss me without taking my statements into consideration. The destructive behavior of humans is tearing us apart from our roots in nature. It is not up to us as humans to decide who lives or dies, and this should go for animals as well. We are animals, we belong to the same kingdom, why do we get to choose who is or is not our equal? We are not born with the right to put ourselves in a superior position to animals. This is something Vaslav understood quite early in his life, and something humans struggle to comprehend today. I believe indigenous peoples should have the right to hunt, as this is the natural way to eat meat, and it is one of their few resources, but for those of us who do not have to rely on it shouldn’t eat meat.