Strav #2: Mmm…

Stravinksy, it seems, is like buses, though the other Igor-related performance this weekend is not as, shall we say, formal as the BRB one. You’ve probably seen the posters for Michael Clark’s Mmm… Stravinsky Project with the amusing “contains some nudity” warning in small type under it. You think?

(By the way, if you turn this upside down it looks really freaky.)

At first I was ready to write this off as the oh so shocking darling event that doesn’t live up to the hype but over the weeks I’ve become more and more intrigued. Firstly there’s the legacy of Michael Clarke himself – a “post-punk ballet dancer” who worked with The Fall on the I Am Kurious Oranj ballet and was a friend of the great Leigh Bowery. When it comes to contemporary performance he’s up there as a major figure.

Then there’s the Stravinsky element, with the piece being an interpretation of his Rite of Spring, a ballet that when first performed in 1913 caused riots. From the Wikipedia entry:

The Ballets Russes staged the first performance. The intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario – a setting of scenes from pagan Russia – shocked audiences more accustomed to the demure conventions of classical ballet. Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreography was a radical departure from classical ballet. Different from the long and graceful lines of traditional ballet, arms and legs were sharply bent, the dancers danced more from their pelvis than their feet.

The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd, and there were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance, and Stravinsky himself was so upset on account of its reception that he fled the theater in mid-scene, reportedly crying.

If you’re equally intrigued there are performances at the REP on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7.30pm and tickets range from £11 – £18.50. I’m thinking of going on Friday.

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