Nijinsky's Last Jump

From Saturday 23 April to Thursday 26 May celebrated dance theatre company Company Chordelia will tour their production Nijinsky’s Last Jump across Scotland. The piece explores the life of Russian ballet dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinksy and has received a suite of rave reviews (“a remarkable new piece by Company Chordelia”  ***** The Herald, “Lloyd-Jones does not sentimentalise her material, yet in this impeccably researched, beautifully performed piece, she conjures a world in which genius and insanity, youth and age speak to each and make perfect sense.” ***** The Guardian). 

To find out more about the production we spoke to Company Chordelia Artistic Director Kally Lloyd-Jones

Nijinsky's Last Jump. Photo: Susan Hay 

What can audiences expect from Nijinsky’s Last Jump?

The production explores Nijinsky’s life, with a focus on his mental illness, through an older Nijinsky nearing death and a young Nijinsky. Old Nijinsky is played by actor James Bryce and young Nijinsky is played by dancer/actor Darren Brownlie and the show combines dance and movement with text. I suppose I want the audience to experience something individual and personal. To ponder this man, his life and work, what might have been, and the nature of mental illness - its causes and treatment. I hope they will experience deep empathy or feel something that is about the need for people to be allowed to be unlike everyone else.

What makes Vaslav Nijinsky’s story so captivating?

I bought Richard Buckle’s biography of Nijinsky as a school prize when I was about 14 and it has haunted me. Since then his incredible diary has been published in unedited form - he wrote this over a period of six weeks leading up to his breakdown and diagnosis. Something about Nijinsky touches my heart. I feel that while he loved and wanted to dance, he didn’t belong in the world of fame, of sponsors and politics. His career was very short-lived and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 29 and never really performed again. He was undoubtedly extremely intelligent but there was also something very simple, even child-like, about him. Part of what I wanted to do was explore specifically what happened to Nijinsky and the delicate balance of someone’s mind and what has happened to them - who he was on stage and off. Whatever fascinates me obviously fascinates other people too, but I think it’s probably the tragedy and the waste that is so at odds with the extraordinary vision and talent.

Nijinsky's Last Jump. Photo: Susan Hay 

How did audiences react to the production when it premiered during Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival 2015?

The audience reactions were amazing, and I feel I’ve done my job when I see people in the audience crying at the end every day. The reviews were pretty incredible which generated more audiences, which is everything you want at the fringe, so it was really brilliant.

You’re taking in locations all across Scotland for this tour, how important is bringing your work to new audiences?

I really love taking shows out on the road. It’s a chance to take the show to people all over Scotland and to meet them and have relationships with the venues. All audiences are important so while doing the Fringe means you are reaching a diverse range of people who have converged on Edinburgh in August, taking the show to different locations and types of communities and venues is a big part of what we do. Because we visit so many different types of venues, it will be exciting to change the show a little for each place to make it work best for the environment.  Growing audiences is so important because what we do is not relevant unless we reach and engage people. 

Also, it’s a lovely small cast and team, it will be April/May and we get to go to the most beautiful places!

Nijinsky's Last Jump Trailer from Company Chordelia on Vimeo.

What else do you have planned for 2016?

Company Chordelia have plans for a new show in the pipeline so more on the soon.

I am off to Danish National Opera and Glyndebourne to choreograph I Puritani and Madama Butterfly.  It’s my first time working at Glyndebourne so that’s exciting. And I’m also directing Hansel and Gretel for the St Magnus Festival in June, for a co-production with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Nijinsky’s Last Jump Tour Dates

Paisley Arts Centre – Saturday 23 April 7:30pm £10 / £6 + booking fee 0300 300 1210

Birnam Arts Centre, Dunkeld Tue 26 April 7:30pm £12 / £10 / £5 U16s 01350 727 674

Cumbernauld Theatre Sat 30 April 7:45pm £10 / £8 01236 732887

The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford Wed 4 May 8pm £16 / £13 01865 319450

Tramway, Glasgow Fri 6 May £12 / £8 0845 330 3501

The Brunton, Musselburgh Sat 7 May 7:30pm £12 / £10 / £7.50 under 18s 0131 665 2240

Aros Centre, Isle of Skye Tue 10 May 7:30pm £10 / £8 01478 613750

Byre Theatre, St Andrews Thu 12 May 8pm £12 / £10  01334 475000

Eden Court, Inverness Tue 17 May 8pm £13 / £10 01463 234234

Universal Hall, Findhorn Wed 18 May 7:30pm £10 / 38 / £6 U16s 01309 691170

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling Fri 20 May 7:30pm £12 / £10.50 / £5.50 students 01786 466666

Druimfin, Tobermoray Tue 24 May 7:30pm £10 / £8 01688 302211

Macphail Centre, Ullapool Thu 26 May 7:30pm £8/£6 conc. / £2 under 18s 01854 613336

Company Chordelia received funding through Creative Scotland's Open Project Fund towards Nijinsky's Last Jump.

This article was published on 01 Apr 2016