In 1917, when Vaslav Nijinsky appeared with Serge de Diaghileff's Ballet Russe at the Empress Theatre, then called the Vancouver Opera House, the North American tour was arranged in New York by Otto Kahn, Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera's Board of Directors. Vancouver arrangements were made by Mr. H. Chrimes, Secretary of the Sun Publishing Corporation, which could explain the silence on the part of the Province with regard to the company's appearance. The Vancouver Daily Sun, on the other hand, ran an enormous number of photos and previews, finishing with a review that ran two long columns. Stilicho (another writer using a pseudonym) is bowled over not so much by one individual as by the whole “Color-Chorus-Dance-Symphonics of M. Serge de Diaghileff, the Russian super-Wagner...”
Nijinsky, who was directing the company for this tour, with Vancouver the only Canadian stop, made one last-minute change to the program. On January 15, the day of the performance, a Sun article announced that due to the stage being larger than anticipated, Nijinsky was replacing Les Sylphides with Cléopâtre. Stilicho waxes long and poetic over Mlle. Flora Revalles as Cleopatra, whose “mesmerizing power over her lover is only less remarkable than her silent power and sovereignty over the spectators.”
Three-quarters of the way through, Stilicho gets to Nijinsky, who performed La Princesse Enchantée (the Bluebird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty) with Lydia Lopokova: “We do not see Nijinsky in the classical Faun pose, but as a superb master of the more conventional art of the ballet, transfiguring it into something vast and Russian and individual” (Sun, Jan. 16, 1917). Where had Stilicho seen Nijinsky's 1912 masterpiece, L'après-midi d'un faune? Or had he just heard about it? Nijinsky also appeared as Harlequin in Fokine's Carnaval.
The major artists who performed in Vancouver in the second decade of the last century proved how exciting and satisfying a full evening of dance could be. There was still a great deal of dance in the short, sweet presentational style of specialty artistes, as vaudeville continued to offer opportunities to artists of all kinds. The later Vancouver appearances of St. Denis were part of vaudeville bills, which provided the only way to make a living for many. (next page)
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