As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Sunday, December 17

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« Dennehy Falls, Gets Back Up New Stuff at Mat Daly Dot Com »

Dance Thu Feb 19 2009

The "Rite" that Turned Ballet-Goers into Riotous Thugs

The Joffrey Ballet's Winter Season opened last night, and the audience managed to get through the whole show without attacking each other in the aisles. ... More on that in a moment.

AllisonWalsh.JPGThe program begins with "Kettentanz" (choreographed by Gerald Arpino, music by Strauss and Mayer), a ballet inspired by the social dances of Vienna. While the light, tripping steps might look like your stereotypical, charming ballet, it's impossible to forget that these dancers are athletes. If you watch carefully, you'll notice that the piece is a 30-minute-long race with hardly a break for these smiling, poised dancers who throw in a hearty feeling of camaraderie while making the intensely hard work look effortless.

Next up is "Mobile" (choreographed by Tomm Ruud, music by Khachaturian), which absolutely succeeds at recreating Calder mobiles with nothing more than a man, two women, and three white unitards. This isn't quite Cirque du Soleil, but even when the man isn't supporting the two women who are holding themselves at right angles to his body (wow!), the lighting, costumes, and shapes are full of the tension and energy that occurs when three individuals act as a unit.

The third piece is "Hand of Fate," the pas de deux from the Balanchine ballet Cotillon (music by Chabrier). I can't believe I'm saying this about the great Balanchine, but the dance, although executed beautifully, was more or less forgettable. Especially considering what came next.

Sacre_09.JPGOf course, the reason most of the audience was there was for Le Sacre du Printemps ("The Rite of Spring"), Vaslav Nijinksy's 1913 ballet that revolutionized the dance world.

The ballet cannot be imagined without Stravinsky's score, created for the ballet, that captures "the first moment of the Russian Spring, which, as [Stravinsky] said, was like the whole world suddenly cracking" (from the Joffrey program). The ballet depicts a pagan fertility rite in primitive Russia that involves a young woman dancing herself to death. The dancing could hardly be farther from the refined movements we saw in Kettentanz. These beautifully trained dancers -- nearly 50 of them! -- stomp around the stage flat-footed, with their toes turned in, their faces set in an almost trance-like stare. And the unpredictable effect is beautiful and overwhelmingly powerful.

The Joffrey's painstakingly researched reconstruction is generally considered to be the closest possible version of Nijinsky's original masterpiece, from the costumes to the scenery to the dancing. (Kinda makes this Chicagoan's heart proud.) Since that's the case, it isn't difficult to imagine how the 1913 ballet-goers, expecting to see Russian ballerinas frolicking in tutus, felt when confronted with a full cast in tunics, the men wearing bear skins, and nary a pointe shoe in sight. The premiere has gone down in ballet legend. The audience started by catcalling and ended by attacking one another with hat pins and throwing punches at each other in the aisles. Watching the Joffrey's Sacre today, one is intensely aware of witnessing a reincarnation of a historical moment, hopefully sans the compulsion to attack one's neighbor. And it's pretty convenient that the whole thing is euphoric to experience.

Feb. 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, and March 1 (7:30 Fri/Sat, 2:00 Sat/Sun). Auditorum Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets $25-$145, available at Ticketmaster or by calling the theater (312.902.1500).

Note: If you can't make it to the ballet, I would highly recommend watching the video about Le Sacre that the Joffrey has on their website.

 
GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store

 

Events


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop, nancy@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15