Le Sacre du Printemps (2013) é uma performance coreográfica que explora a sedução e irresistibilidade do ato de dançar - até à morte – a partir da sua exposição pública. Toma como referência Le Sacre du Printemps (1913) de Vaslav Nijinsky, a mítica coreografia ausente, e as suas inúmeras versões realizadas nos cem anos subsequentes. Dialogando com a história da dança e reexaminando a cerimónia contemporânea junto da comunidade do teatro, Le Sacre du Printemps (2013) é uma obra que testa o significado e papel da dança, do sacrifício, do prazer e da morte. Dance we do, and dance we must. Entre a vida e a morte, este é um evento sem ensaio geral.

Le Sacre du Printemps (2013) explores the seduction and irresistibility of dancing - to death - in play and display with the public. It takes Le Sacre du Printemps (1913) of Vaslav Nijinsky, the mythical absent choreography, and its subsequent numerous versions of the last 100 years as the frame of reference. Dialoguing with the history of dance and reexamining the contemporary ceremony in the community of theatre, Le Sacre du Printemps (2013) is a work that puts to test the meaning and the role of dance, sacrifice, pleasure, and death. Dance we do, and dance we must. Between life and death this is an event without general rehearsal.

봄의 제전 (2013) 은 춤, 죽을 때까지 추는 춤의 매력과 유혹에 대해 관객과의 놀이와 관계를 통해 탐구하는 작업이다. 바슬라프 니진스키의 신화적인 부재의 안무작, 봄의 제전 (1913) 과 지난 백여년간 창조되어온 수많은 재안무작들이 이 작업의 기점이며 바탕이다. 봄의 제전 (2013) 은 현대무용의 역사와의 대화, 극장이라는 현 시대의 공동체 의식의 장의 새로운 조명을 통해, 춤, 희생, 쾌락과 죽음의 의미와 역할을 시험하고자 한다.  추는 춤, 추어야만 하는 춤. 이것은 삶과 죽음 사이의 최종 리허설이 없는 사건이다.

28/09/2013 – PREMIERE – Circular Festival de Artes Performativas (Vila do Conde) in co-presentation with Alkantara and the support of Départs/Programa Cultura da União Europeia (Portugal)
4, 6/10/2013 – Culturgest, Lisboa (Portugal)
13, 15/10/ 2013 - Teatro Municipal Sá da Bandeira – Santarém (Portugal)
18/11/2104 - Korean National Company of Contemporary Dance, Seoul (Korea)
1/05/2015 - Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland (New Zealand)
6, 7/05/2015 – Allen Hall University of Otago, Dunedin (New Zealand)
21, 22, 23/05/2015 – BATs Theatre, Wellington (New Zealand)
26/08/2017 - Arko Theatre - Archive Platform - Seoul, Korea
© delal isci
© Seungjoo Lee
publication accompanying the show
an exhaustive list of rites of spring
an original essay by rita natálio:
"parrots in the mirror" in two parts - side a "the surface of the century battles the profound of the century" and side b "the same old song, but different"
original visuals by delal isci
et. all

concepção e performance/
concept and performance/
컨셉, 출연 
Min Kyoung Lee & João dos Santos Martins
이민경 & 조아오 마틴스
convidados especiais/special guests
케스트 출연
Carol Brown, Kristian Larsen (Auckland/Dunedin), Chris Jannides, Melanie Hamilton (Wellignton), António Pedro Lopes, Gustavo Ciríaco, Bojana Bauer, Verónica Metello (Portugal), Se-Hyung Oh, Lee Ji-Hyun (Korea)
light design in collaboration with Sean Curham (AKL), Martyn Roberts and Reuben Bright (DUD), Todd Houston (WLG), Daniel Worm d’Assumpção & Ricardo Campos (PT)
visual art/ 이미지
Delal Isci
DeVIR/CAPa, O Espaço do Tempo
Centre Chorégraphique National Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon, Cão Solteiro, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, TSB/ Viver Santarém/ Município de Santarém
tour funding Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
João dos Santos Martins & Min Kyoung Lee
production support Circular Associação Cultural


Min Kyoung Lee & João dos Santos Martins
at Allen Hall Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin
From 6 May 2015 to 7 May 2015
[90 mins]

Reviewed by Jonathan W. Marshall, 8 May 2015

Vaslav Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring, which was choreographed to Igor Stravinsky’s music in Paris, might be seen as a founding text of the modern theatrical, choreographic and musical avantgarde. Though a ballet company, Nijinsky drew on the modernist style of Eurhythmics developed by Rudolf Laban and Maurice Emmanuel (notably in the matching of musical motifs with specific poses). The aggressively stomping dance set in premodern Russia depicted the willing sacrifice of a maiden to the gods of the land to ensure the return of fertility. Rites purported to expose a primal ritual and sexual violence at the heart of human existence.

Ironically, though Stravinsky was to become the champion of measured neoclassicism, his work for Rites had the same frisson and energy as the atonal music and late Romantic compositions of his own time, particularly the operas of Richard Wagner—which were controversial in France because they were distinctly anti-classical, German and (surprisingly for us today who know about how much the Nazis came to love Wagner) supposedly “Jewish” or representative of a miscegenated, semi-Slavic nation.

Rites famously provoked a riot at its 1913 premiere, though as my very brief sketch above illustrates, the response to Rites had relatively little to do with its specifically aesthetic character of the piece, and everything to do with pre-existing political and cultural divisions in France which had flared up after the prominent trial of a Jewish officer, Dreyfus.

Whatever the case, the music of Rites has become a Matterhorn which major choreographers increasingly feel they must at some stage conquer, much like Hamlet and King Lear function for many English speaking actors and directors.

Acknowledging the truly massive number of choreographic interpretations of Rites made over the course of the last 100 years, dance-makers Min Kyoung Lee and João dos Santos Martins have learned several of these versions, and present them to the audience as an exhausting performance lecture in continuity and change in dance.

Versions which feature prominently include the controversial but actually remarkably accurate Millicent Hodson recreation, first produced with the Joffrey Ballet in 1987, and Maurice Béjart’s 1959 production. Whilst this version appears quite late in Lee and Martins’ production, it is logically the next closest to the Nijinsky/Hodson production in that Béjart was renowned for fusing classical ballet elements with freer modern dance. His depiction of Rites as an extended erotic coupling or “little death” of orgasmic union fits closely with the ecstatic Bacchic/Dionysian ambience of Nijinsky’s own version.

A South Korean version is also shown—it is difficult to tell from the wonderful but perhaps too detailed program to work out which one this is—as well as that of Modernist Expressionist dance legend Martha Graham. Again, although Graham did not turn to choreograph Rites until 1984, but much of her earlier work also dealt with women dancing themselves towards a state of furious, near terminal ecstasy (Errand into the Maze, 1947, or Cave of the Heart, 1946, anyone?).

The more atypical version by the company My Choreography from 2008, where dancers improvised around themes, and then danced what they could remember of the previous night until a stable work began to emerge, provided an unusual though slightly idiosyncratic variation to the program of Lee and Martins.
More logical was the inclusion of the version by postmodernist dance legend Yvonne Rainer, a supposedly “vaudevillian” version which meshed poses from the original dance with others taken from television, comedy, and so on. If Nijinsky, Béjart and Graham all represented various versions of Modernism, Rainer offers a more post-WWII, media-savvy version, as you would expect from a postmodernist.

For those versed in the history of Rites and the 20th century choreographic obsession with ecstasy, it comes as no surprise that Pina Bausch’s stomping, circling version concluded the proceedings for the evening as the last new piece introduced.

Bausch is often seen as signalling a return to the emotional inflection of mid twentieth century dance, whilst mixing this with a resolutely abstract and at times even sculptural as well as folkloric approach. This relatively orthodox presentation of dance history history is echoed in how we move across various recordings of the music also, only to end with the version conducted by the all but unchallenged master of late 20th century art music Pierre Boulez in France, whose own compositions draw extensively on atonalism, Stravinsky, Wagner, and electronic musics.

So far so conventional then.

More innovative is the way Martins and Lee present these danced samples. Typically, one of the dancers performs on his or her own a short section from one of these choreographies, whilst Brown and Larsen offer some comments and context via microphones on a table. As the evening continues however, different works are paired with each other: Béjart and Bausch for example, with one dancer dancing one piece (Lee does My Company) and the other a different work at the same time (Martins does Bausch). Moreover, whilst the gestures employed by Graham and Bausch are overall more more flowing than Nijinsky’s stochastic, isolated poses and leaps, all of the versions presented are highly physically demanding, especially when key climatic moments from the score return over and over again.

Brown and Larsen come to resemble then commentators at a dance marathon of the 1920s and 1930s (a phenomenon immortalised in the bleak film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? 1969). Going back before Rites to other dance classics such as Giselle or The Red Shoes, Lee and Martins perform that age old myth of the dancer who dances him or herself to death. Certainly the battle between maintaining precision versus visible exhaustion on the part of the performers adds a seductively appealing sadistic element to watching this performancelecture.

Larsen and Brown devise most of their text themselves, and whilst I would quibble with some of the details presented, this is at least as much a performance as it is a lecture. It would therefore be obtuse to expect the speakers to not also be playing with poetics as much as factual detail. Certainly the piece functions as a challenge to all in the venue on quite how to interpret this great myths of twentieth century culture, and the clear difference and disconnection of the seated speakers at the side and the sweating dancers encourages us to approach all elements of the piece sceptically.

Nevertheless, as a historian of fin de siècle France I do find the acceptance of the myth that the “riot” at the opening was the response of an audience to unprecedented aesthetic challenges spontaneously invented by Nijinsky and Stravinsky somewhat tiresome. Do not forget that Nijinsky choreographed after the premiere of works by not only Wagner, but also after Symbolist and Decadent theatre had been sweeping the stages of Europe, let alone the work of choreographers Emmanuel, Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, and others. Fortunately, by visibly placing our speakers at the side and in opposition to the dance of Martins and Lee, the text itself is rendered questionable and more of an offering than anything else, and I for one welcome the commentary of Brown and Larsen.

Brown also notes the controversy which Hodson’s version elicited. She muses as to if one can in fact ever revive choreography, without the bodies of the original dancers. Dance is here constituted as an art defined through the immediate, living presence of a body in communion with the audience in the venue.

Again whilst I respect this position (powerfully made by academic Peggy Phelan), it has been fairly soundly trounced in academic scholarship by the likes of Phillip Auslander. Nijinsky’s work is in fact quite unusual in that we have many sources. There are quite a number of photographs (one would like more of course), some records of notation of the dance itself, the full musical score exists (although Stravinsky himself did modify it over time), and a large number of audience accounts. In short, amongst the history of modern dance, this work—as well as perhaps Nijinsky’s L’après midi d’un faun of the previous year—are easier to restage than a great many others one might name.

Although the text suggests that what is being performed is a kind of ghostly dance, a dance around an absent work which we will never know, as the evening reaches its conclusion, the different mash-up versions begin to intercut and merge in an ever more frenetic and inconsistent pattern. What at least I took away was not the difference of these works, but the truly striking continuity of them. All of these productions quote a number of movements which we now unequivocally recognise as “Nijinsky’s choreography.” The leaping body, the body placed along a parallel plane almost like an Ancient Greek bas relief (also seen in Duncan’s work), the pointed gestures of the hands and toes, the turning outward in parallel of the feet and the splaying of the legs to make a rhombus below the hips: these are all “Nijinsky poses” and every one of our later choreographers uses one or more of these.

Indeed for my money, the most strikingly original of the versions cited here is that by butoh legend Min Tanaka of 1990, which unlike most of the other segments, is only performed by Lee. As Brown and Larsen observed, Tanaka was very interested in the proximity of life to death. His is a dance of spasms and of sensing one’s internal peaks and journeys towards, or out of, ecstasy and communion. Butoh has been called an “anti-choreography” in that it has relatively few recognisable gestures, instead generating an ever changing, almost formless or spastic body.

Uniquely amongst the choreographers evoked then, Tanaka quotes none of Nijinsky’s movement. His is rather a compelling search for internal bodily consciousness. This might seem to have nothing in common with Nijinsky beyond the interest in ecstasy and sacrifice, but it is worth recalling (poorly known that this is) that Tanaka’s mentor Tatsumi Hijikata quoted the work of Nijinsky, especially Après midi d’un faun, in his own work (French speakers can refer to http://www.regardaupluriel.com/buto-enigmatique-danses/). Butoh is much about a dialogue between elements of form and structure which the more fluid body interacts with, as it is about anything else.

Overall then, one must conclude that this project offers an all but unprecedented opportunity to revisit the history of modernism and dance, and to poke at some of the continuities and discontinuities which it provokes. Modernism has not in fact passed, but has rather now become part of the canon we reinterpret. In critically engaging with this history, Lee and Martins give us a moment to reflect, whilst their own bodies collapse, all but destroyed by this attempt to re-embody the fervid energies of this exciting past.
ⒸSang Hoon OK

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