From March 7-17, 2013, Houston Ballet will present The Rite of Spring, a program of premieres featuring three exciting 21st century choreographers and honoring the centenary of the premiere of Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky's landmark work. The company will unveil the world premiere of Stanton Welch's The Rite of Spring. A world premiere by internationally renowned choreographer Edwaard Liang to music by the Italian composer Ezio Bosso and a Houston Ballet premiere of Mark Morris's Pacific round out the program.
Houston Ballet will hold a free Dance Talk on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 from 8:00 - 9:00 PM in the Margaret Alkek Williams Laboratory. The event features Stanton Welch interviewing choreographer Edwaard Liang about his new work for Houston Ballet, which debuts as part of this mixed repertory program. The event is free and open to the public. No ticket is required.
Hailed by The Oxford Dictionary of Dance as "a seminal moment in modernism," the premiere of The Rite of Spring on May 29, 1913, at Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, shocked its audience. The ballet nearly started a riot among audience members with its unconventional music, modern choreography, and provocative storyline about a young woman chosen by her tribe as a sacrifice.
"The impact of Stravinsky's magnificent score and the ballet's universal theme of the cycle of life, death and rebirth has gone far beyond 1913," writes Jody Leader in The International Dictionary of Ballet. "The Rite of Spring became a touchstone of orchestral virtuosity in the latter half of the twentieth century, as well as a continuing challenge to choreographers." Stravinsky's landmark score has inspired a plethora of great dance makers, including Richard Alston, Pina Bausch, Maurice Bejart, Martha Graham, Lester Horton, Leonide Massine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, John Neumeier, John Taras, Paul Taylor, Glen Tetley, Hans Van Manen, and Vladimir Vasiliev. Houston Ballet has performed Glen Tetley's staging of The Rite of Spring (originally created in 1973 for Munich's Bavarian State Opera Ballet) on two occasions: in 1988 and in 1997.
To honor this famous artistic collaboration, Mr. Welch has conceived his own interpretation. The full-company ballet taps into the themes of primitiveness, sexuality and sacrifice. "With this full company piece I will explore primitive, primal movements, and emotion, while trying to capture what I have imagined since I first listened to this music as a child," notes Mr. Welch. "There are so many wonderful versions of The Rite of Spring, and I hope to pay homage to the rich music and history of the story."
The Rite of Spring sets are designed by acclaimed indigenous Australian artist Rosella Namok and include two giant back cloths printed in an aboriginal style. Ms. Namok's work has been hailed by critics as "bold" and "inspired." Mr. Welch discovered Ms. Namok's work at Houston's Booker-Lowe Gallery, which features the largest collection of contemporary Australian Aboriginal fine art in the Americas. "I immediately felt connected to Rosella Namok's work which was very Australian and captured the spirit of the music for The Rite of Spring," explains Mr. Welch.
The hundredth anniversary of seminal moment in the history of Western classical music and dance has inspired an outpouring of observances in Texas and beyond. On January 25 and 26, the acclaimed modern dance choreographer Bill T. Jones combined forces with experimental theater director Anne Bogart and her acclaimed theatrical troupe SITI to create A Meditation on The Rite of Spring, commissioned by the University of North Carolina's Carolina Performing Arts. From March 5 - 6, The Joffrey Ballet will perform its famous 1987 reconstruction of the original Rite of Spring, (recreated by Millicent Hodson, a choreographer and dance historian, and her husband Kenneth Archer) at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas. On March 8, 2013, The Joffrey will perform the work at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in San Antonio. On Saturday, May 18, 2013, Society for the Performing Arts Houston will present another interpretation of this seminal work by the acclaimed Chinese choreographer Shen Wei, performed by his company Shen Wei Dance Arts, at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts.