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In Search of Eden

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Bronislava Nijinska in California

Bronislava Nijinska spent the last thirty-two years of her life in Southern California. Beginning with her first visit to Hollywood in 1934 to choreograph the dances in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this essay examines her activities in California both as a teacher and a choreographer. It looks closely at her Hollywood bowl season of 1940, when she staged three of her ballets, all new to the United States; the dancers she trained who went on to distinguished professional careers, and her approach to teaching. It briefly summarizes her activities in the 1940s, when she choreographed for Ballet Theatre, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and Ballet International; the 1950s, when she worked for the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas; and the 1960s, when the revival of Les Noces and Les Biches by the Royal Ballet brought her most celebrated works back into repertory. Finally, it speculates on the reasons she settled in California, given the limited opportunities it offered her for creative work.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Dance, Barnard College, Columbia


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