Not That Will Rogers

Reconstructing Dance History: “The Rite of Spring”
Dancers in traditional Himalayan costumes in "The Rite of Spring"

Dancers in traditional Himalayan costumes in "The Rite of Spring"

You have until March 1 to make it to Joffrey Ballet’s Winter Program.  Totaling four works in all, the cornerstone of this season’s program is Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), originally danced by the famed Bellets Russes. The work reenacts a sacrificial fertility rite in which a young woman dances herself to death.  Tribal and raw, Nijinsky’s dance is set to Stravinsky’s iconic score with scenery and authentic Himalayan costumes by Nikolai Roerich.  When the work premiered in 1913, audiences were so outraged they rioted and stormed the streets.  When was the last time you experienced that in a theater?  The Rite of Spring disappeared after its debut and was only revived by Robert Joffrey in 1987 with the meticulous research of husband and wife dance historian team Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer.  Presented as part of the centennial celebration of the Ballets Russes, if you are into dance you have to see this.  It changed ballet forever and paved the road for modern approaches to a classical form.  If you are just into history that’s another great reason to go.  Visit the Joffrey Ballet website to watch a short video on the history of the work.

While we are on the topic of The Rite of Spring, I would be remissed if I didn’t include a link to a piece done on the riot it caused by my friends at WNYC’s Radiolab.  What could be better than learning more on The Rite of Spring from one of the most exciting shows on the radio (or iTunes)?  Well stop asking questions so I can tell you.  Not only will you hear about the dance, but you will also hear one of my favorite Radiolab degments, “Sound as Touch”.  Click here and enjoy!