(Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky
Anyway...there it is. This "myth" of a choreography from 1913, this rumor that Vaslav Nijinsky lost his head and wrote some kind of play about primitive people sacrificing a maiden by making her jump to death and all set to Mr. Stravinsky's new piece? I put myself into the mind of a high society patron of the arts. This won't do! No! What is all this jumping. The music! He is making that tsk tsk sound as he places the mink around his quiet wife's shoulders. Secretly, she was in thrall to it. Everything about the music and the strange dancing and then the handsome Nijinsky who - well what a dancer. He is not going to be endorsed as a choreographer by anyone too soon. In an odd moment, she said to her husband - after the subject had changed - I didn't think it was terrible. It was quite new. With one look her husband tells her she has no business voicing her opinions.
(Gaia Straccamore in 2001 I think - the Danse Sacrale perfectly performed)
Meanwhile Stravinsky has no regrets over his work and believes it will propel his career - if from the publicity only. Publicity at the hands of a lunatic like Vaslav. The greatest art critic couldn't promote his Rite Of Spring better than that ridiculous ballet and the firestorm of discussion it has created this night - before the last note was even played, it was legend.
We all know Nijinsky performed it a handful of times in Europe travelled south with it but it was not received. He had a nervous breakdown and spent the rest of his life unwell, hospitalized. I wonder if he knew that his name would one day be revered, his choreography lost for 80 years then, upon reconstruction, lauded as the single most groundbreaking work of art in danse.
During the years that Le Sacre rest in some old trunk in some old ballerina's attack, as if in its coffin, many choregrpahers - from the greats to the gimme-a-breaks took on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
I think most of it was shit but I thought Pina Bausche's was good because, really, I can't say anything bad about her. Otherwise, almost all of the choreography lacked imagination, relying on Stravinsky's accents and time changes as pose-striking cues. It was sexualized quite heavily and still is. Earlier "greats" went over the top with fuck-fest choreography and costumes that look like a vision over the bowl of your own New Years puke. Like this:
I've been called out for not appreciating Bejart's version. Perhaps I am a philistine. Or I have taste? The Rite of Spring caused even the best choreographers to feel they needed to do something weird, or sexual, primal. It was as if Nijinsky were calling out from the grave into their dreams and they didn't remember it.
By 1987, original choreography resorted via Saint Robert Joffrey and has terpsichorean archeologists, every one in the dance world fell silent when the ballet concluded (televised). Must have been a bitter pill for many realizing in that moment they were handed absolute proof that they were mediocre. Nijinsky was the embodiment of talent, insight, courage, risk - the mark of a man who will forever be the yardstick by which dance talent is measured.
It was done. Le Sacre du Printemps was finally real.
Now all these choreographers from Israel to Kentucky continue to write these obvious pieces of shit, trying to commune with Stravinsky's "Rite" the way only one man ever did and Stravinsky didn't think so for years. If you have worked at Burger King or Chipotle within the last 5 years and are now in some studio choreographing to The Rite, your only audience will be YouTube. And your only critic will be me. But I'm tired of saying the same thing.
YOU WILL NEVER CHOREPGRAPH LE SACRE DU
Best you'll do is some weird, gyrating shit in black leotards to The Rite of Spring. These are two wholly different things.
I can't stand any of them.
(originally posted 10/1/2015)