Amazing. Unreal. Incredible.

Tonight’s performance of Nijinski by the Hamburg Ballet completely blew me away. I loved the premise, I loved the narrative, I loved the design. And the dancing? Oh, the dancing!

This week at home has just been ‘one of those’. I’ve been madly helping my Mum finish preparations for her children’s clothing stall at the Mathilda Markets and we explored Home Festival at Kangaroo Point yesterday. My six month old got some strange nappy rash that required a special cream and both, yes both, of our cars broke down at the same time.

I say these things because if I was ever likely to fall asleep in a darkened theatre while watching a performance it should have been tonight! But instead I was inspired. Spellbound.

I described in a recent post the feeling of being carried away by music… How while the orchestra and opera performances I saw last week were enjoyable, I didn’t find myself lost. I did, however, lose myself in Nijinkski. Highly theatrical, combining contemporary dance, classical ballet, and an awesome stage design to boot, this has certainly been the highlight of The Hamburg Series for me.

Artists create art for many reasons. To celebrate, to challenge, to inspire, to provoke. Nijinski was all of these. Performance that requires an audience’s unwavering attention excite me! They get my mind racing, and I often find myself sitting so upright, and so rigid in my seat that I almost exhaust myself with the intensity of my observation.

Reflecting on this performance amongst all of my Hamburg experience so far is interesting. Ballet is the form with which I have had the least to do during the Series. None of the ‘Conversations’ leading up the to program were related to the Hamburg Ballet, nor their productions. I attended no rehearsals, nor had any other form of engagement with the Hamburg Ballet or the ideas that form Nijinski.

However, it is by far the event I have enjoyed the most.

Perhaps this enjoyment does actually stem from a previous ‘immersion’ in this art form. I danced as a child and studied classical ballet for six years. Which is not long in the scheme of things, but I think counts as a fair bit of ‘immersion’ by comparison to my understanding of opera and symphony. I am certain that my time spent studying ballet gives me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the form. I, like every other childhood dancer, I’m sure, watch professionals and wonder “could that have been me if I had kept up my dance training?”. And from that thought stems admiration and awe. For the skill, the control, the commitment that can be seen in every movement, through every limb, and even shooting out of pinky fingers and pinky toes.

And then there’s the Drama teacher in me. The lover of symbolism, of complex, episodic narratives, of conceptualism and dramatic meaning. I watched this performance almost as a teacher once more, burning images, thoughts, and interpretations in my mind so that I may discuss them with a class preparing for an analytical response.

My intellectual mind was awakened, thoughts of nappy rash and shopping lists were forgotten.

My emotional mind was reminded of stories outside those of my little family, as I experienced the emotions, the moments and the intensity of Nijinski’s story.

Just as those passionate about Wagner and Mahler insisted one must be a marble statue not to be moved by the music, I would say the same about Nijinski.

Although, while my instant summation would be adamant, “you will be moved!”, my Hamburg experience has reminded me that nothing in the Arts is absolute. Every audience member, every individual brings their own everything and nothing to a performance.

I wasn’t particularly moved by Mahler, nor by Wagner. In fact, I may have had a little cat nap. I was, however, absolutely moved by Nijinski, while the lady in the seat beside me slept quietly.

There exists so much art, for there is so much in the world. And for each of us I am sure there is art that speaks to us. That moves us, that carries us away. That ignites our minds, our emotions, our instincts.

And so I can only be thankful. To the choreographer, the performers, to QPAC, and to Nijinski himself. For this art was one for me.

Nijinski by The Hamburg Ballet: A Reflection

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