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
|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 sage: Le 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)|
|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”.|