Friday, April 30, 2010

The Best Ballet of All Time!

Le Sacre du Printemps or The Rite of Spring

When the audience members of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées took their seats on the evening of May 29, 1913, it is unlikely they anticipated they were about to be witness to the genesis of two new art forms.
Indeed, the stark angularity and utterly human grotesqueness presented in Vaslav Nijinsly's choreography was completely alien to Parisian audiences who were used to the perfection and cleanliness of classical ballet. Nijinsky hides no imperfections in his choreography, but rather, puts human vulnerability on display. This piece is considered by many to be the birth or modern dance.
Furthermore, Igor Stravinsky's score, with its use of complex rhythms, dissonance and timbres, forever shifted the standards and norm of music composition. Indeed, rather than the masterpieces of Beethoven and Mozart whose compositions, while riveting at times, are generally meant to soothe the ears. Stravinsky's symphony however, is meant to catch you off guard, to alarm you, and to keep you on the edge of your seat with tension.
In addition to these massive departures, to story itself is much darker and simplistic then shows such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle, which the Parisian audiences were used to seeing. The events are set rural pagan Russia and depict the involuntary sacrifice of a virgin to facilitate the coming of spring. The story is frightening and unsettling, even more so, because it speaks to the root of man's most primal and savage instincts.
The first performance was met with rioting from the audience, who were angry and disturbed by what they saw. The show closed after only a few performances, but remains a staple in the history of human creative expression.

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