SO WHAT’S UP? What on earth is this pro-Black, brother-Black, big-Black, afro-Black, kinte space cadet doing taking a sizable chunk out of his Soul Train life to work on a piece about Vaslav Nijinsky? What football team am I playing on? What’s my ribboned agenda?

Sure Nijinsky played a lot of romanticized “exotic” characters from somewhat fictional lands in Asia and Africa but I was not thinking about that when I was an impressionable 13-year-old. I also was not thinking obsessively about so-called race or fashionable topics of “alternative sexuality” when I was watching a now-defunct, pioneering, cable channel called On-TV (or was it Select TV—I can’t remember). I saw the Paramount picture “Nijinsky,” the Harry Saltzman Production, deep in an all-Black ‘hood in the working-class city of Los Angeles. I saw the vision of an artist—the timeless vision of an artist—talking directly to my burgeoning sense of aesthetic. And I was deeply impressed.

With regard to his personal life, I try to theorize about his tragic mental illness that became quite apparent at age 29 in “Night in Nijinsky.” There are many books that try to locate a “smoking gun” of sorts and I encourage you to do your own research. You may find two schools studying the Nijinsky biography distinguishing the character of Nijinsky’s wife Romola Nijinsky: the Pro-Romola School (typified by the book Vaslav Nijinsky: A Leap into Madness by Peter F. Ostwald) and the Anti-Romola School (vaugely suggested by the book The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky by Waslaw and Waslav Nijinsky). Please see “Night in Nijinsky,” read some non-fiction books about this man and decide which side I’m on—if any.

Nijinsky, Vaslav 1890–1950.


Written and Visualized by . . . . . . . Bryan Wilhite