Celebrating the "Rite of Spring" Centennial

The Joffrey Ballet performs Nijinsky’s The Rite of Spring

Is it just me, or are dance-goers less enthusiastic than they used to be? One hundred years ago today, the audience went nuts over the premiere of a ballet. Literally. They screamed, shouted, nearly rioted in the streets of Paris, because the latest work from the Ballets Russes wasn't what they were expecting. Then again, it's been a while since a performance forever changed the course of dance history.

The Rite of Spring, born of a collaboration between Vaslav Nijinsky and the yet unknown Igor Stravinsky, depicts a Slavic tribe's ritual of sacrificing a young maiden to ensure the arrival of spring. Dancers stomp and jump with turned-in feet to Stravinsky's famously dissonant, nearly uncountable score. It was risky, taboo and jarring, like nothing audiences had experienced before. After Rite's infamous May 29, 1913 premiere, other artists began to stretch the limits of music and movement, continually challenging the norm and eventually ushering in the era of modernism.

Today, the dance world celebrates the innovative ballet. The Richmond Ballet will present the work in full tonight as part of the Virginia Arts Festival. The Bolshoi, Houston Ballet and Bill T. Jones are also staging new versions of Rite this season. And until September, Washington DC's National Gallery hosts the special exhibit, Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music, featuring costumes from the original Rite of Spring production and footage of a recent staging, along with other archival treasures. Among the antique costumes, designs and set pieces, the magic of the Ballet Russes comes alive, 100 years after that fateful Paris premiere.

Photo by Herbert Migdoll, courtesy of Joffrey Ballet

Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading... Show less
News
The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.