The Riot of Spring
Everyone loves a good scandal and the riotous 1913 premiere of The Rite of Spring was easily one of the biggest in the history of twentieth century art. The orchestral-choreographic work—a collaboration between composer Igor Stravinsky, choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, and Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes—portrays rituals of pagan Russia. Though its structure is episodic, the work as a whole is unified around, as Stravinsky put it, “the mystery and great surge of the creative power of Spring.” Perhaps spurred by the avant-garde nature of the music—with its dissonance and pulsing rhythm—or the shocking choreography—eschewing ballet’s expected gracefulness for sharp, jerky movements—the audience quickly began laughing, shouting, scuffling among each other, and hurling objects at the orchestra. The performance forged on despite it all and the furor eventually died down. Initial reviews were mixed.
Below, check out a 1989 recording of a performance from the Joffrey Ballet with Nijinsky’s choreography left fully intact.
This Friday April 1, Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret returns to FringeArts for a performance dubbed Rite of Spring. Will there be a riot down here at the waterfront?