On May 29, 1913 Paris witnessed history’s most famous theatrical riot. The audience for the first performance of The Rite of Spring was shocked, so the story goes, by Stravinsky’s unprecedented music and Diaghilev’s daring choreography. Fights broke out and the police had to be called to quell the brouhaha.
But as with many good stories in history, nothing is quite as it seems.
By the second performance the following night everything was calm and the audience applauded heartily. It seems that the opening night crowd came ready to make trouble even before the first note sounded. The art world in Paris had its factions and loyalties, and animosities ran deep.
As innovative as Stravinsky’s music certainly was, and as profoundly as it and the ballet probed the visceral impulses of human experience, the work was recognized almost from the beginning as one of the most interesting and influential creations of the 20th Century.
Now, 101 years later, we get to revisit this extraordinary work on the stage when Ballet Victoria brings its brand new production of The Rite of Spring to ArtSpring on Sunday, March 16.
Artistic Director Paul Destrooper is widely acknowledged as one of the most talented and influential choreographers working in ballet in British Columbia. In the last half dozen years he has built Ballet Victoria into a tight, disciplined, coherent company of young professional dancers. The company produces excellent traditional and contemporary ballet, and has twice before brought its work to ArtSpring.
In addition to the newly choreographed Rite of Spring, Sunday’s programme will also include three additional short dance works:
Bruce Monk from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet has created a new Pas de Deux on the music of Arvo Part, and has also created a suite of dances on three Leonard Cohen songs. And the programme also presents the world premiere of new choreography on the music of Leonard Bernstein by Shawn Hounsell.
“Alltogether, this will be a rich programme showcasing Ballet Victoria’s breadth of talent,” says ArtSpring Executive Director George Sipos. “We will get a great glimpse at some of the exciting work being done by a traditional ballet company as it faces the modern world. Not unlike Paris in 1913 come to think of it. Minus the riot.”
Tickets for the Sunday 2:30 performance are available now from the ArtSpring Ticket Centre 537-2102 or online at www.tickets.artspring.ca at $23 for adults and $5 for youth. Ballet Victoria will present the same programme the following weekend at UVic’s Farquhar Audiorium (where tickets will cost $55 adult and $20 student).