The pioneering Russian dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky created Jeux in 1913, to a wonderful commissioned score by Debussy. As with Nijinsky’s scandalous ballet The Rite of Spring from the same year, the original choreography for Jeux has been lost – but in 1980, for Herbert Ross’s film Nijinsky, Kenneth MacMillan reconstructed elements of both ballets, drawing on photographs and his own choreographic sensibility to construct a living idea of Nijinsky’s original.
MacMillan only choreographed fragments of Jeux, and despite the strong positive response his work received on set, decided not to complete the ballet. In 2012 Wayne Eagling, then director of English National Ballet, took on that task, re-creating MacMillan’s choreography for the stage as part of his company’s ‘Beyond Ballets Russes’ programme. Inspired by Nijinsky’s tragic life, Eagling expands the ballet’s original focus on the dangerous games adults play into a compelling meditation on the power and vulnerability of the artist.