Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Rite of Spring

I found the Joffrey Ballet's reconstruction of the legendary original 1913 production with Nijinsky's choreography. I'm not enough of a music and dance maven to pronounce on the authenticity of this, but it is very striking. This is supposedly what provoked the Paris audience into a riot on opening night.

I can imagine that audiences used to Giselle and Swan Lake would find this very upsetting. I would imagine Nijinsky's choreography provoked the rioting just as much as Stravinsky's music.

I've loved this music since I was a kid. Cat Stevens and James Taylor (what my little circle of geeks and freaks in high school listened to) seemed very tame compared to this. Even Led Zepplin is mild compared to this.

So far as I know, Stravinsky never wrote anything quite like this ballet again.

My favorite interpretation is still Seiji Ozawa's from the 70s.

Here's a painting by the artist who designed the sets and costumes for the original 1913 Paris production, Nicholas Roerich.


A Facebook friend, Kathryn Jensen sent in this article from the NY Times archives. The production in the video dates from 1987.
I've only seen old photos of the sets, costumes, and dancers for the original 1913 production. I had no idea anyone at anytime ever tried to reconstruct that production.
Most of the productions I've seen of this ballet universalize it, the common pagan ancestry of us all. What strikes me about Stravinsky's and Roerich's original production is how specifically Russian it is, as much so as Stravinsky's earlier Firebird ballet.


JCF said...

I was going to say "Is this the one where he fake-ejaculated on a scarf at the end?"

...but then I remembered, that was Afternoon of a Faun (that seemed pretty racy when I saw it age 16 or so!)

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

No dreamy elegance here...

rick allen said...

I was privileged to hear the Rite of Spring played by the Boston Symphony under Ozawa in the late '70's, when you could get a student rush ticket for $2.50, and I certainly never heard a better rendering of it.

If, however, this choreography represents the original ballet, I can understand why the debut audience was a bit more demonstrative than usual (especially if they had paid for something more dear than student rush tickets).