April 6, 2011

Dance revolution

When Le Sacre du Printemps (Rite of Spring) had its premiere in Paris in 1913, one of the most famous riots in the history of the theater occurred.

Igor Stravinsky, who died on this date in 1971, declared from the first that it was his music that caused the screaming, shouting and shoving that resulted in the arrival of the police at intermission. But the crowd erupted again in the second act and according to Wikipedia,

Stravinsky ran backstage, where Diaghilev was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience. Nijinsky stood on a chair, leaned out (far enough that Stravinsky had to grab his coat-tail), and shouted counts to the dancers, who were unable to hear the orchestra…

But recently a historian named Truman C. Bullard has pointed out that the reviews hardly mentioned the music – which was hard to hear in any case.  It is more likely that it was Nijinsky’s choreography that created the hysteria, departing so dramatically from the sedate formula of classical ballet. If the Joffrey Ballet recreation of the original (below) is anything to go by, it’s understandable.

In any event, the ballet was produced again the following year and was a smashing success.  Stravinsky was carried through the streets of Paris on the shoulders of admiring audience members.



  1. Very interesting if a little to highbrow for me.


    Comment by avery — April 6, 2011 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  2. Silly choreography. Never cared much for

    Silly choreography. Never cared much for Stravinsky. Don’t know why my mother fainted at that first production


    Comment by GALYA TARMU — April 6, 2011 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  3. you know my appreciation of dance, however, this is a bit much. printemps meets cro-magnon?


    Comment by ursel — April 6, 2011 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

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