Countdown to the Rite of Spring-Part 5 of 5

Rite-of-spring v2-2

Le Massacre du printemps Newspapers called it ‘Le Massacre du printemps.’ Diaghilev’s satisfied comment was, ‘Exactly what I wanted.’

A Jealous Lover Diaghilev did not accompany the Ballets Russes when the company embarked on its South American tour in the fall of 1913, which was preceded by a 21-day voyage at sea; he claimed he had a premonition that he would die at sea. Aboard the ship, Vaslav Nijinsky proposed marriage to Romola de Pulszky, the daughter of a Hungarian Count and a persistent fan of the dancer who through her connections had cajoled her way onto the tour. They married once the ship docked in Buenos Aires. After news of the marriage reached Diaghilev, he promptly dismissed Nijinsky, his lover and star dancer. Nijinsky was rehired briefly in 1916 for an American tour of the Ballets Russes, but his mental health declined steadily and he retired from professional dancing in 1917. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and would spend the rest of his life in and out of asylums. He died in London in 1950.

The National Ballet of Canada presented a ballet about Vaslav Nijinsky’s extraordinary life earlier this year:; it premiered to rave reviews: (English only).

Endless Reinterpretation… Nearly 200 dance works have been created to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring since its premiere exactly a century ago. Diaghilev revived the work in 1920 with new choreography by Léonide Massine and Nicholas Roerich’s designs. In 1930 this production was premiered in Philadelphia, with the legendary Martha Graham starring in the role of the “Chosen One”. She would create her own Rite of Spring in 1984 at the age of 90.

…and Reconstruction Although no choreographic notation of the 1913 version is extant, years of meticulous research by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer lead to the stage reconstruction of The Rite of Spring, premiered by The Joffrey Ballet in 1987. A reconstruction also appeared in the 2009 film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, directed by Jan Kounen.

Watch The Joffrey Ballet perform the first third of The Rite of Spring (1987):

The Genius of Pina Bausch Perhaps the most famous and celebrated version of The Rite of Spring since 1913 is by the late choreographer Pina Bausch, which premiered on December 3, 1975 and used the full orchestral score and an earth-covered stage. As Amanda Smith writes in Dance Magazine in a 1984 review of Bausch’s stark depiction: “(Bausch’s) musicianship in The Rite of Spring contributes to its reputation as one of the best versions ever done. She plumbs the heft and weight of Stravinsky’s great score, her dancers dropping forward like injured beasts to the thud of the bass drum.”


Watch a clip of Pina Bausch’s version of The Rite of Spring:

Ongoing Choreographic Inspiration A small sampling of choreographers who have felt compelled to create their own work to this incredible score include: Mary Wigman (1957); Maurice Béjart (1959); Kenneth MacMillan (1962); Paul Taylor (1980); Richard Alston (1992); Michael Clark (1992); Marie Chouinard (1993), Tero Saarinen (2002); Shen Wei (2003); Emanuel Gat (2004); Heddy Maalem (2004); Michael Keegan-Dolan (2009); Jose Navés (premiering in May 2013). Akram Khan’s 2013 iTMOi (In The Mind Of Igor) uses Stravinsky’s score as its key inspiration.

A Place in Pop Culture The iconic work has also made numerous appearances in pop culture, serving as inspiration for everything from b-grade horror films (Rites of Spring, 2011) to one of the vignettes in Walt Disney's animated classic Fantasia (1940).

Watch The Rite of Spring, as interpreted by Walt Disney Studios:

An Important Anniversary Orchestras, dance companies, performing arts presenters, universities and museums around the world have marked this momentous anniversary with exhibitions, performances, lecture series, writings and studies. Perhaps no other work of the last century has inspired so much discussion and creative inspiration. We invite you to explore the history and legacy of The Rite of Spring and join us in celebrating its 100th anniversary TODAY!

Join our email list for the latest updates!