Sunday, April 23, 2017

You Might Be Playing Nijinsky Too


Eric Hofbauer,


Of course, you broke the Rite down to it's pieces as is par for the course.  I hate when people screw with The Rite of Spring I just hate it!  There is only one person who should have done it - Zappa.  But,  Well.  Since I have put your collection into my YouTube Channel which is pretty much THE Le Sacre du Printemps spot, all these jazz dudes' videos are showing up and they talk before it and discuss what Stravinsky was probably thinking...


If you want to know what he was thinking just look at the interviews where he says it specifically all on my channel and broken down for idiots. 



Ok.  There it is. Your music, set to Nijinsky's choreography for Spring Rounds.  Bad dance performance,ugh,  good film quality.  I slowed the speed to make it work better.  Did you know that is what you were playing?

I think you are playing Nijinsky Eric. And it is a mystery that shows up in different places.  I do not know what it is but this ballet - this thing - resonates with certain people in a strange way.  I am one of them but I have a father who played Stravinsky so much I thought it was his own music. This 1913 debut was more than historical. It was more than "a riot".  It was more than groundbreaking which we wouldn't call it for 80 years and almost didn't get the chance...no.  It's more.


It was elevating and devastating. One became genius and one became an outcast.   


This ballet was performed 9 times.  Nine.  Vaslav Nijinsky,  the worlds' greatest dancer, was out of work within a year.  When people think Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was "ahead of its time" they are right.  But the choreography was ahead of the earths' orbit. People would not be able to accept it even in 1940, maybe even 1950.  So in 1913 these art snobs rioted more over their own limitations than over the incredible challenge of  the music or the choreography and the 2 together was passive aggressive almost.   We like to think we appreciate something or we are lofty in our tastes.  Then someone raises you and you're out of money.  So you throw the table over make a scene.  


That's what happened on May 29, 1913.  But there would be an effigy.  And not Stravinsky.


Now, Stravinsky was poised to be the greatest composer in history before the debut.  He was young, had 2 successful ballets behind him and was with the Ballet Russes.  With Sergei Diaghilev, the man who took the Russian ballet out of Russia and made history just for that forget all the things he would do from there.  Stravinsky was an amazing human being but he was arrogant in his youth. And intolerant which he had become entitled to by that year. And he did not like Vaslav Nijinsky.  


There is a photo of them standing together from Petrouchka.  It is the only photo they are both in and it is a promo shot.  People use that shot as the "friends" who caused "the riot",  I once did before I knew the story. 


Stravinsky did not want to work with Vaslav for The Rite of Spring but when Diaghilev says "my lover is going to do the choreography".,,,,you say yes.  This would be his first major choreography.  The first "minor one"  was Afternoon of the Faun, which he performed and it...was...shocking.  But offset by Debussy, his odd angles with the dancers, his strange poses and movements oh and the simulated masturbation at the end...he got away with it and it is MASTERFUL.  


What Nijinsky did with The Rite was create what appeared chaotic but was very deliberate and brilliant.  42 dancers on stage, 5 soloists.  In other words, 5 groups each doing something different.  Each dancing to one area of the music.  You see it in that video, yes?  


It hasn't been done since.  


In 1961 Stravinsky says that the audience were "naive and stupid people.   they didn't understand art" when asked about the ballet.  I wish he had said it earlier.  


Nijinsky was sent on the road by Diaghilev so the storm would die down.  He took the ballet to South America where he married.  And Diaghilev, jilted, fired him.  Nijinsky was already showing signs of his illness which would present within in a year or so.  Schizophrenia.  He became the greatest dancer ever who no one would hire.  Unheard of!   Eventually, he spent his life in and out of institutions.  Forgotten.  There was always a rumor of a crazy ballet but it was buried by Diaghilev in 1914.  People forgot it.  


When Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, at Robert Joffrey's request, began unearthing it in the early 80's...it was a monumental task and done just in time.  They speak about it in many videos which I am clipping now.   The dancers and musicians and artists from that night were nearly all gone.  Hodson and Archer worked tirelessly to recover this ballet.  To rescue Nijinsky.  And they did. 


In 1987 this debuted live,  The quality is poor but they are untouchable. 




Everything changed after that.  A ballet from 80 years ago somehow became the yardstick for measuring a choreographer's chops.  All that Nijinsky was denied, was suddenly celebrated.  I believe that the Joffrey Ballet has the Nijinsky inheritance and will never lose it.  Three different times I have seen them and they are not dancing.  They are involved in 1913.  Different years, Different dancers.  Same performance.  It was bestowed upon Joffrey I know it.  His contribution to art is as great as Nijinsky's.  Without Robert Joffrey, Le Sacre du Printemps would have been a myth.


It sounds dramatic but it is not.


I could wax ridiculous here but I think I have written enough. 


This piece is simply for a jazz musician who played the Rite of Spring and it was great because he played Le Sacre du Printemps.  He played both Stravinsky and Nijinsky.  That is my opinion and I have never said it before. 


Eric Hofbauer's Rite of Spring will appear in the intro and exit of some of the upcoming videos for "The Hodson & Archer Experiment"


NOTE:  FATOVA MINGUS is a trademark.  Tread lightly hackers.