HUNT, Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen's take on what we know as the Sacrificial Dance from Le Sacre du Printemps debuted in 2002 in the states, perhaps 2001 in Europe and one thing is certain: he got it right.
I always wanted to write about this but didn't for some reason. I've often talked with my father about choreographers' inability to resist Stravinsky's occasional "countable" pounding or sheer chaos. Many choreographers - even with the Nijinsky choreography revealed!- resort to humping in the 8 note chord.
Tero Saarinen stood perfectly still and let visual media dance against his own still posture and with that, HUNT became an event.
The alarming percussive chaos in the center of this Stravinsky's 5 minute danse sacrale can not be matched by movement of the body really...but perhaps only by eavesdropping on someone's disquieting thoughts as they descend into madness which is what The Chosen One would have been doing (note to Iosifidi of the Marinsky: you looked like you were thinking about what to throw up for dinner. You are a lovely graceful girl not a maiden losing it as she dies).
The breaks in the chaotic structure of the music or rather anti-structure, and Nijinsky's brilliant decision to match those stops and starts as moments of panic in one gesture, regal defiance in another as seen with Beatriz Rodriguez and Pietragalla make perfect sense. She is dying. But madness becomes stillness at some point.
Only Tero Saarinen got us to that point in HUNT by not dancing.
The images remained in pace with the music: dark and confusing, flashing randomly in a disturbing way almost like a crowd murmuring louder and louder; Saarinen's face is dramatic, simply over the top but still, emotionless and still. He allowed the music and libretto to just peel off of him. I still see The Chosen One hitting the lunge against the trombone and timpani or the jump with the fist in the air and I will never NOT see that when I hear Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. But Saarinen pulled together pieces previously left behind in my opinion to make a whole experience. This multi-media event very advanced for the time, was a breakthrough for dance.
This is the only thinking that comes close to Nijinsky's.
I find it a tragedy that HUNT was, in some ways, lost in The Four Variants.
Nijinsky's Chosen One is such a ground breaker the whole world wanted in.
Pina Bausch;s Le Sacre was a misfire - the only one of her life - but it was Pina Bausch and everyone loves to see breasts.
As far as that French dick's "Gang Rape Ballet" it should not have been given a chance. Think of Stravinsky's reaction - he would never stop throwing up.
Why could no one reach the originality and genius of Nijinsky? I'll tell you why. They introduced nothing new. They failed to reach for that extra element. But for one mn, Tero Saarinen.
By letting strobe lighting and image projection perform the breaking point of the Chosen One's odyssey he escaped the "stamp and flail" trap. If Le Sacre du Printemps were a board game, he'd be the only one in for the win.
But it's not.
So sue me,