Finding Nijinsky in NYC

The surprisingly successful failure  

Over the next month I am planning on following and researching (in a very small way) the route of the supposedly ill-fated Ballets Russes USA tour of 1916. This tour was led by Nijinsky and has often been deemed a failure, as has the première of his last ballet Till Eulenspiegel (which opened on the tour – and was the only ballet Diaghilev never saw). It was also the only coast to coast tour the Ballets Russes ever did in America, covering 57 cities in 5 months.

MET programme 1
1916/17 programme – Copyright NYPL.

Nijinsky was 28 when he led this tour – just a bit younger then me, which makes this story even more poignant. Was this tour really a failure? I am hoping to find out.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting snipets of my research and discoveries.

First stop NYC!

From the 16th of October – 28th of October, 1916, the  Ballets Russes performed at the Manhattan Opera House, now know as the Manhattan Centre. It was also here the Nijinsky’s last ballet Till Eulenspiegel premiered.

Image result for the manhattan opera house
Manhattan Opera House, circa 1910.

The building is still there, on 34th St, and is now used as an event and concert venue – a new facade was added in the 1920s.

Manhattan Center 2017.
Manhattan Center 2017.


The first week on tour the Ballets Russes covered Providence (30/10/16), New Haven (31/10/16 & 1/11/16), Brooklyn (2/11/16) and Springfield (3/11/16 & 4/11/16).

NYPL Brooklyn (1)

NYPL Brooklyn (2)

NYPL Brooklyn (3)

NYPL Brooklyn (4)
1916 programme copyright NYPL.

On the Thursday night the company were in Brooklyn performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The evening included: Les Sylphides, Till Eulenspiegel, L’après-midi d’un faune and Scheherazade.

Brooklyn Academy of Music 2017.

More soon …