Lynn Garafola’s La Nijinska: Choreographer of the Modern (Oxford University Press, 2022) is reviewed in The New York Review of Books by Alastair Macaulay, former chief dance critic of The New York Times. Garafola is Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College.
None is more remarkable than Bronislava Nijinska, the radical dancer-choreographer sister of the legendary radical dancer-choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Yet Lynn Garafola’s La Nijinska: Choreographer of the Modern is the first full-length biography of this singular creator.
We see what a pioneer Nijinska was in choreographic responses to music. She staged the premieres of scores by Stravinsky, Poulenc, Ravel, Georges Auric, Jacques Ibert, and Constant Lambert in ways that put the dialogue of music and dance in the forefront of modernism and earned the respect of those composers. The critic-composer Roland-Manuel wrote in 1925 of her Les Rencontres, made to music by Ibert, “The choreographic element…enjoys a certain independence here. It does not slavishly fit the music; it scarcely follows it; it encounters it.”