Eva Stachniak: ‘We live in a country that embodies the essence of the 21st century’
The Chosen Maiden was born out of my fascination with Ballets Russes, a Russian dance company which, in the summer of 1909, took Paris by storm, and fundamentally transformed Western notions of modern art. I wrote it because, after over 30 years in Canada, I’m still exploring the encounters between East and West, their exhilarating possibilities and illuminating setbacks. My heroine, Bronislava (Bronia) Nijinska, the intended Chosen Maiden from the 1913 production of The Rite of Spring choreographed by her famous brother Vaslav, was a brilliant dancer and a ground-breaking choreographer. The tantalizing relationship between Bronia and Vaslav is one of the novel’s main themes. Another is a life fuelled by a passion for art and lived in between cultures, languages and ideologies, against the backdrop of bloody political upheavals – two world wars and the Russian Revolution. With the Nijinsky men gone – by choice or tragic fate – it’s the women who pick up the pieces. For me this makes The Chosen Maiden both personal and universal. Personal for it evokes the spirit of the Polish women who raised me, brave and nurturing, determined to wrench the slightest sliver of happiness from the hardest of times. Universal, for I see the very same spirit anywhere where women know that the survival of their families depends on them. MORE
Eva Stachniak on blacklisted words and the dreams of the exiled
Whether she’s re-imagining the rise of Catherine the Great or – in her latest novel, The Chosen Maiden – a gifted Russian ballet dancer, historical novelist Eva Stachniak is drawn to visionary women and how they challenge the status quo.
In the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A, Stachniak answers eight questions from eight of her fellow authors.
The Morning Show:
Author Eva Stachniak explores ballet in the late 1800’s and early 1930’s in her new novel.
… a tale of intrigue, love, betrayal and redemption set in the realm of art and artists, exploring the line between dedication and obsession, creation and madness.
… Stachniak weaves together beautifully the myriad moments that bring this fascinating family and period to life.
… exquisite fictionalized memoir.
… Drawing on her thorough research into Bronia’s archives, the author has teased out revealing insights into the art of the dance, and she writes skillfully about the emotional truths that arose from Bronia’s ambitions, family relations, and deep anxieties. Dance fans will welcome this graceful and entrancing foray into the recent past.
Quill and Quire:
Many works of fiction take as their inspiration true events and persons of historical significance, but few do so as lovingly and imaginatively as Eva Stachniak’s fifth novel
a remarkable work of historical fiction
The Chosen Maiden is both a tribute to a female artist who remained true to her vision despite numerous obstacles, and to the woman behind her who made it possible. MORE