The Rite of Spring is a legendary piece of music, choreography, and folklore in the world of dance. It was originally choreographed in 1913 to Igor Stravinsky‘s progressive and forward-thinking score by a madman of the international dance world: Vaslav Nijinsky. Nijinsky is one of modern ballet’s most celebrated dancers. He is as storied as The Rite of Spring itself, a ballet that’s been interpreted by countless dancers, choreographers, composers, artists, writers, and filmmakers. In the waning days of PIFA, you have three opportunities to catch a unique-to-PIFA (and unique-to-Philly) performance and collaboration. Rites, Rhythm… Riot! is being performed at the Kimmel Center‘s Perelman Theater on the 28th (8:00pm), the 29th (2:00pm), and at the Gordon Theater on the Rutgers Camden campus on the 30th (8:00pm). 

This particular performance is being described as a vaudeville-like opera. The Pulitzer-prize winning composer Paul Moravec is responsible for the score, which is inspired by Terry Teachout‘s libretto. The Wall Street Journal‘s drama critic tells the story of The Rite of Spring through the eyes of its creators: Stravinsky, Nijinksy, and Ballets Russes founder, Sergei Diaghilev. Diaghilev was a renowned Russian patron of the arts, a critic, and also Nijinsky’s occasional lover. And that’s only the beginning of the drama. The Rite of Spring is FULL of tense, dramatic gestures reflective of the intensely rhythmic and primitive nature of its original score. At the time, it was unlike anything anyone had seen. It freaked people out. There were riots. Maybe that’s why it’s been juiced for all its creative energy ever since.

The herky-jerky, violent dancing represents a relatively pagan split of two acts: Adoration of the Earth and The Exalted Sacrifice. Reflective of this original dancing style, the Center City Opera Theater will team with Philadelphia’s own Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers. KYLD draws on Asian American influences to contribute to contemporary Western dance, but strives to create a transcendent experience that defies cultural definitions. As we approach the end of PIFA and the beginning of May, the temperature’s rising and plants are starting to bud. What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a truly awe-inspiring performance—a send-up to the arrival of the beloved welcome mat to summer. 

Tickets range from $10 to $125. More info can be found on the PIFA website here. Photos provided courtesy of thelondonballet.com and nea.gov

Disclaimer: PIFA, the Philadelphia International Festival of Arts, based in the Kimmel Center, is sponsoring the writing of a series of blog posts. Bill Chenevert will be contributing previews and event spotlights leading up to the actual festival, which will take place all over the city of Philadelphia, in numerous venues.


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