Voracious Vaslav

Vaslav220“His dancing was music made visible.”

Lara Bye directed, Karen Jeynes wrote, Fiona du Plooy choreographed, and Godfrey Johnson performs Vaslav. What a show.

Johnson’s Vaslav is mad. All is heightened. He’s as if in hallucination. Fragmented memories burst out of each other. He’s relentless. He’s unstoppable. Nijinsky’s schizophrenia is at the fore and Johnson makes us feel it.

Vaslav looks at the man, the artistic genius Vaslav Nijinsky. But it does more than that.

Historically and culturally significant events are woven into the script which invoke the atmosphere of Nijinsky’s times, the transformation of the Western world. He mentions Jazz, Nietzsche and Proust, Einstein – the early twentieth century’s revolution in scientific and philosophical thinking, in the major social movements that sparked and spurred each other on. This was the age of machinery, the suffragettes, experimentation and discovery.

The modern world in the making.

Nijinsky’s brother describes him: Vaslav’s soul was like the paintings of Cezanne and Picasso, defragmented and complex. Intense. Debussy, Stravinsky, Ravel: Nijinsky danced to them all. “Close your eyes… if the music doesn’t speak to you, you aren’t listening properly”. These modernist artists and composers captured the restlessness of a world emerging from nineteenth century complacency and redrew their artistic boundaries, reflecting the renewed adventurousness of the new century.

Vaslav as cabaret is adventurous too. Johnson uses the form to its full potential, playing Debussy and Tchaikovsky, and whilst at the piano, recreates iconic imagery from Nijinsky’s ballets. Through song and heightened expressiveness he channels Nijinsky’s obsessiveness. Through dramatic characterisation he brings to life the great genius with magnificent artistry.

Johnson’s performance is passion made visible.

There were many tear stained faces leaving the show. Vaslav is effective, impactful, touching and stirring… a show to catch at this festival’s last weekend.

– Sarah Roberson

Click here for production info. Vaslav is on next today (10/07) @ 18.30 & tomorrow (11/07) @ 21.00 @ the Albany Cabaret Club.

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