Nijinsky Dances on Film….sort of

by Nicholas James Bruder

If you haven’t read it yet, check out Joan Acocella’s article, “The Faun,” in this week’s New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2009/06/29/090629ta_talk_acocella

It’s a really interesting article about Christian Comte, a French artist, who makes animations from still images. Recently he chose Vaslav Nijinsky, the much revered Ballet Russe dancer and choreographer, as his subject, and posted what appeared to be film fragments of the artist on YouTube that were never known to exist before. The appearance of the clips sparked a frenzy of excitement and debate among balletomanes and dance historians.

If you go to his YouTube page you can see all the videos he’s made and all the comments users have left. They have said everything from praise for Compte “finding” these videos, to appreciation of him using his talent to finally bring some idea of Nijinsky’s movements to life, as well as reprimands for him fooling them. He does insist that he is not trying to pass his films off as originals, but the confusion is understandable…sometimes.

Here are couple of Comte’s videos:


I think Comte is a fantastic artist. Although some people have felt disappointed or duped by his work, Comte’s animation techniques reveal a whole new avenue for movement, film, and photography. If people can let go of their hopes of seeing a legendary dancer come back to life, I think they will be able to appreciate Comte’s contribution to the film and dance world, as well as the web community.  He has only added to our circle of art, and gotten us to think. Shouldn’t those two things be appreciated and asked for in art?

We’d love to hear your responses to this work and the debate surrounding it.

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