Though Dabussy’s enigmatic score remains a fixture of concert halls around the world, after a solitary performance in 1913, Nijinsky’s Jeux performed by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes disappeared into obscurity.
The challenge of researching theatre is once a ballet such as Jeux has been performed it often ceases to exist as something physical. It’s possible to watch or read films and books again and but a performance may exist only as memory. There are recordings of course but theatre is usually defined as being ‘live’ needing both the involvement of performers and an audience. Naturally, in this postmodern age that too is up for debate. Samuel Beckett’s Breath challenges the typical conventions of performer, location and narrative in theatre, but an audience remains.
The difficulty of researching a 1913 ballet that only ever had a single, low key, poorly received performance will be self-explanatory then. Nijinsky himself appeared to care little for it, mentioning it only a handful of times in his published diaries. There exists a handful of modern performances of Jeux, such as the one below.
And since I mentioned it, Damien Hirst’s rendition of Breath: