After the revolution: as The Rite of Spring turns 100, we take a look at the reverberating impact
© 2013 Dance Magazine, Inc.
February 1, 2013
Le 5acre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) was the ballet that shook the world. One hundred years ago, the chic crowd in Paris booed or cheered, argued loudly, and even came to blows. Nijinsky stood on a chair and yelled out the counts to keep the Ballets Russes dancers going, while Diaghilev commanded the audience, "Let them finish the performance!" According to legend, the riot continued out in the street.
Was it Stravinsky's jagged, haunting, crashing music that riled them? Or was it Nijinsky's primitivism: the turned-in feet and huddled circles oblivious to the outside world? Or maybe it was the idea of the sacrifice where the Chosen One brutally "dances" herself to death?
Accounts differ, and we'll never know for sure. What we do know is that Stravinsky's earth-cracking Rite of Spring has become the mountain that many choreographers feel challenged to climb--more than 30 by our count. We've chosen 18 of them for this photo essay to mark the centenary of the original Sacre du Printemps at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees on May 29, 1913.
1. HEDDY MAALEM
Heddy Maalem's Toulouse-based company, with dancers from all over Africa, in his Le Sacre du Printemps (2004) in 2008
Photo: Ben Rudick, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow
2. PINA BAUSCH
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Bausch's Fruhlingsopfer (Rite of Spring) (1975)
Photo: Still from the film PINA (2012)
3. JOHN NEUMEIER
Hamburg Ballet in Neumeier's Le Sacre (1972)
Photo: [c] E Peyer, DM Archives
4. ANGELIN PRELJOCAJ
Ballet Preljocaj in The Rite of Spring (2001)
Photo: Regine Will, Courtesy BAM
5. SHEN WEI
Shen Wei Dance Arts in Shen Wei's Rite of Spring (2003)
Photo: Bruce R. Feely, DM Archives
6. SALVATORE AIELLO
Nashville Ballet in a 2012 performance of Aiello's Rite of Spring (1995)
Photo: Marianne Leach, Courtesy NB
Reconstruction of Nijinsky's original Sacre du Printemps (1913) by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, 1987, for Joffrey Ballet
Photo: Herbert Migdoll, DM Archives
8. KENNETH MACMILLAN
English National Ballet in a 2012 performance of MacMillan's Rite of Sping (1962)
Photo: Arnaud Stephenson, Courtesy ENB
9. HANS VAN MANEN
Dutch National BaLlet in Van Manen's Sacre du Printemps (1974)
Photo: [c] Jorge Fatauros, DM Archives
10. STIJN CELLS
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in a 2008 performance of Celis' Rite (2005), originally for Bern Ballet
Photo: Paul B. Goode, Courtesy Cedar Lake
11. JORMA ELO
Boston Ballet in Elo's Sacre du Printemps (2009) (Yes, those are real flames.)
Photo: Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy BB
"As the ballet looked back to the dawn of human life, so ... it also looked into the future. to a war that unleashed the accumulated evil in men's souls and to a society ruled by the machine. In this sense, Sacre was a harbinger of modernity." of its assembly lines and masses, its war machines and cities of slain innocents. Stripped of their costumes, Nijinsky's masses were both the agents and victims of twentieth-century barbarism."
--LYNN GARAFOLA IN DIAGHILEV'S BALLETS RUSSES
"As I envisaged the primitiveness of the tribal rites, where the Chosen Maiden must die to save the earth, I felt that my body must draw into itself, must absorb the fury of the hurricane. Strong, brusque, spontaneous movements seemed to fight the elements as the Chosen Maiden protected the earth against the menacing heavens. The Chosen Maiden danced as f possessed, as she must until her frenzied dance in the primitive sacrificial ritual kills her."
--BRONISLAVA NIJINSKA, THE SISTER OF THE CHOREOGRAPHER AND ORIGINATOR OF THE ROLE, EARLY MEMOIRS THIS MONTH: EARLYBIRD RITES OF SPRING
(Look for updates in future issues.)
Joffrey Ballet: Reconstruction of Nijinsky's original Sacre du Printemps: L.A. Music Center, Feb. 1-3; Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis; Feb. 26; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, Feb. 28.
San Francisco Ballet: Yuri Possokhov's The Rite of Spring (world premiere), Feb. 26-March 10, War Memorial Opera House, SF.
Colorado Ballet: Glen Tetley's Le Sacre du Printemps, Feb. 22-March 3, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver, CO.
Ballet Austin: Stephen Mills' choreography, Feb. 15-17, Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX.
Compagnie Marie Chouinard: Chouinard's Le Sacre du Printemps continues its tour to Meany Hall in Seattle, Jan. 24-26, and White Bird in Portland, OR, Jan. 31-Feb. 2.
Meryl Tankard: Touring The Oracle (her version of Rite of Spring), this month to McCarter Theater, Princeton, N J; Skirball Center, NYC; Newman Center, Denver, CO; Barclay Theatre, Irvine, CA.
1. ADAM HOUGLAND
Wendy Whelan, as guest artist with Louisville Ballet in Hougland's Rite of Spring (2009)
Photo: Dave Howard, Courtesy Louisville Ballet
2. MERYL TANKARD
Paul White in Tankard's The Oracle (2009)
Photo: Regis Lansac, Courtesy Skirball
3. MARIE CHOUINARD
Dominique Porte in Chouinard's Le Sacre du Printemps (1993)
Photo: Chouinard, Courtesy Chouinard
4. MOLISSA FENLEY
Molissa Fenley in her own State of Darkness (1988)
Photo: Jack Mitchell
5. GLEN TETLEY
Carlos Acosta in Houston Ballet's 1997 production of Tetley's Sacre du Printemps (1974), created for Munich Ballet
Photo: Drew Donovan, DM Archives