Page:The Art of Nijinsky.djvu/35

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the first native director of real eminence, that Marius Petipa, to whose work in the 'fifties and 'sixties so much of the present supremacy of the Russian Ballet is undoubtedly due. The ballets produced by Petipa still conformed to the traditional type—three or four acts, and lasting a whole evening. But Petipa did work of enormous importance by assisting the emergence of a national feeling and by encouraging native talent to take its place in the highest grades of the ballet.

It was under his rule, at any rate, that Russian dancing began to achieve self-sufficiency, and to realise itself as equal, nay, superior, to the dancing of any other country in Europe.

Heir to this period of artistic expansiveness, Nijinsky began his career as a student in the Imperial School. A little senior to him was a whole galaxy of