The centenary of a sacred scandal: this is how spring dances like

Le sacre du printemps casts a massive influence over the field of dance. Nijinsky’s interpretation of Stravinsky’s score brought down many paradigms in ballet. This breakthrough inspired many choreographers to create their reinterpretations. A lot of them have felt the need to own it, through the invention of new steps and poses.

The following videos present what many consider is the Holy Trinity of choreographies based on Stravinsky’s score. On every one of them his music gets a new meaning. I invite you to enjoy each one of these versions and to later draw the fascinating contrasts that grow between them.

Reconstruction of Nijinsky’s original choreography by Kenneth Archer and Millicent Hodson

Kenneth Archer and Millicent Hodson embarked on a seemingly impossible mission: to rescue Vaslav Nijinsky’s original choreography. They did an exhaustive research around the world over 16 years that led them, among other things, to get the support of Marie Rambert, Nijinsky’s rehearsal assistant. This is a reconstruction, meaning that it can’t be taken as gospel. However this the closest thing to what Nijinsky once created. This is extremely valuable for people interested in finding out what the Paris audience first saw that infamous night. The Joffrey Ballet debuted this version in 1987, and even when it was received with certain trepidation, audiences and critics were grateful to the astounding undertaking put forward by this restless couple of dance experts.

Maurice Béjart

French choreographer Maurice Béjart was a populist choreographer. That usually implies contempt from the critics. With his take on Le sacre du printemps, though, he seemed to have gained both of them over. His version was radical and experimental. The New York Times even blamed Béjart for turning Stravinsky’s work into “an animalistic mating rite” Among Béjart’s wide catalog of works, Le sacre du printemps is still considered by many as his best, one that even posed a philosophical reflection that looked upon the dichotomy between the individual and the collective. His interpretation was so successful that La Monnaie, Brussels’ royal opera theater, invited him to have his Ballet of the 20th Century, become its resident troupe.

Pina Bausch

For many dance experts, Le sacre du printemps’ nature was perfect for a dance maker like Pina Bausch. The physicality of her so-called “dance theater” definitely represented a great match for the groundbreaking nature of the music written by Stravinsky. She was definitely able to seize that opportunity. According to dance writer Michelle Porter, “The movement was so expressive of changes in rhythm, sonority, volume and so forth that the music and movement became powerful partners. There was an organic relationship between the music and the choreography (…) Bausch has an eye for the structure of movement and for arranging bodies over the space of the stage. Whether she arranges the dancers into one or two or several tightly knit groups, or has them move around the stage in one larger circle, or scatters them apparently randomly over the stage space with each dancer performing individually, the effect is always powerful and always harmonious”.


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