Seeing and hearing Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Le Sacre du printemps, The Rite of Spring, at the Mariinsky II with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra was a once in a lifetime experience. In celebration of the centennial of the piece, choreographer Sasha Waltz created a new, modern production of the ballet to accompany the original score.
The dancers entered in simple, neutral-colored costumes, surrounding a pile of ash in the middle of the stage. Throughout the performance, dancers passed through the pile, exiting on all directions, creating a design like a sun across the floor. The dancing was elegant, emotional, and appropriate in its own way to Stravinsky’s intentions.
Unique from other productions of The Rite of Spring, Sasha Waltz’s choreography expanded the caesuras/pauses in the music to have full minutes of movement accompanied by silence. It drew the audience away from the orchestra momentarily, and towards the intricate details of the movements on the stage. The dancers would often move heavily across the stage so that their steps were audible and in rhythm with the orchestra; in the beauty of the Mariinksy II, every audience member was surrounded with the sound and emotion of both dancers and musicians, especially in these moments. Sasha Waltz was quoted as saying, “In my productions everything is free – the music and the dancers.” Since it was the first time I had seen a ballet live, any future ballet performance for me will have a lot to live up to!
By Bridget Rodino, oboist and student at Northwestern University