Vaslav Nijinsky

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People like eccentrics and they will therefore leave me alone, saying that I am a "mad clown."

Vaslav Fomich Nijinsky (March 12, 1890April 8, 1950) was a famous Russian ballet dancer.


  • People like eccentrics and they will therefore leave me alone, saying that I am a "mad clown."
    • As quoted in Vaslav Nijinsky : A Leap into Madness by Peter F. Ostwald, Ch. 8: Playing the Role of a Madman, p. 176
    • Unsourced variant: I know everyone will say "Nijinsky has gone mad," but I don’t care because I have already played the mad man at home. That is what everyone will think, but they won’t put me in an insane asylum because I dance very well and give money to anyone who asks. People like eccentrics, so they will leave me alone and say I’m a mad clown. I like the mentally ill because I know how to talk to them. When my brother was in an insane asylum, I loved him and he could feel me. His friends liked me. I was eighteen then. I understood the life of a mentally ill person.

Quotes about Nijinsky[edit]

How long he will live on in people’s memories, we can only guess. ~ Richard Buckle
Alphabetized by author
  • Nijinsky’s life can be simply summed up: ten years of growth, ten years of learning, ten years of dancing, thirty years of darkness. Altogether some sixty years. How long he will live on in people’s memories, we can only guess.
  • New artistic impulses were coming to life all over Europe, and most of them had a definite relation with the art of the theatre in one or other of its numerous forms. The full history of these fresh developments, and of the resulting cleavage between the old ballet and the new, has yet to be written. Here we must be content to trace that cleavage in part to the influence of a new school of music which had risen to power within Russia itself, in part also to the more extraneous influences which came, via Moscow, from Prof. Reinhardt the German, and from Gordon Craig the Englishman. Nor must we forget the liberating force which sprang from the art of Isadora Duncan, whose heroic practice has done more than any precepts of philosophy to widen our ideas as to the intellectual and spiritual possibilities of the dance.
    • Geoffrey Whitworth, on influences on Nijinsky, in The Art of Nijinsky (1914), Ch. 2, p. 17
  • Hebetude. It is a graph of a theme that flings
    The dancer kneeling on nothing into the wings
    And Nijinsky hadn't the words to make the laws
    For learning to loiter in air; he merely said,
    "I merely leap and pause."
  • The Diary of Vaslav Nijinjsky reaches a limit of sincerity beyond any of the documents that we have referred to on this study. There are other modern works that express the same sense that civilized life is a form of living death; notably the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the novels of Franz Kafka; but there is an element of prophetic denunciation in both, the attitude of healthy men rebuking their sick neighbors. We possess no other record of the Outsider's problems that was written by a man about to be defeated and permanently smashed by those problems.

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