10/20/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Le Sacre du Printemps

Le Sacre du printemps was originally choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the  Ballets Russes . Commissioned by company impresario Serge Diaghilev and set to music by Igor Stravinsky, the ballet premiered 29 May 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris.

The Rite of Spring nearly caused an audience riot. It stunned people because of its willful rhythms and aggressive dynamics. The Rite of Spring had to be pulled after just a few performances. The audience’s negative reaction to it is now regarded as a theatrical scandal.

The concept behind The Rite of Spring, developed by Roerich from Stravinsky’s outline idea, is suggested by its subtitle, “Pictures of Pagan Russia in Two Parts”; the scenario depicts various primitive rituals celebrating the advent of spring, after which a young girl is chosen as a sacrificial victim and dances herself to death.

Le Sacre du Printemps

Ballet synopsis broken down scene by scene 

Episode English translation Synopsis
Part I: L’Adoration de la Terre (Adoration of the Earth)
Introduction Introduction Before the curtain rises, an orchestral introduction resembles, according to Stravinsky, “a swarm of spring pipes (dudki) 
Les Augures printaniers Augurs of Spring The celebration of spring begins in the hills. An old woman enters and begins to foretell the future.
Jeu du rapt Ritual of Abduction Young girls arrive from the river, in single file. They begin the “Dance of the Abduction”.
Rondes printanières Spring Rounds The young girls dance the Khorovod, the “Spring Rounds”.
Jeux des cités rivales Ritual of the Rival Tribes The people divide into two groups in opposition to each other, and begin the “Ritual of the Rival Tribes”.
Cortège du sageLe Sage Procession of the Sage: The Sage A holy procession leads to the entry of the wise elders, headed by the Sage who brings the games to a pause and blesses the earth.
Danse de la terre Dance of the Earth The people break into a passionate dance, sanctifying and becoming one with the earth.
Part II: Le Sacrifice (The Sacrifice)
Introduction Introduction
Cercles mystérieux des adolescentes Mystic Circles of the Young Girls The young girls engage in mysterious games, walking in circles.
Glorification de l’élue Glorification of the Chosen One One of the young girls is selected by fate, being twice caught in the perpetual circle, and is honoured as the “Chosen One” with a martial dance.
Évocation des ancêtres Evocation of the Ancestors In a brief dance, the young girls invoke the ancestors.
Action rituelle des ancêtres Ritual Action of the Ancestors The Chosen One is entrusted to the care of the old wise men.
Danse sacrale (L’Élue) Sacrificial Dance The Chosen One dances to death in the presence of the old men, in the great “Sacrificial Dance”.
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