The Rite of Spring

Dir. Michael Keegan-Dolan/English National Opera/2009

Co-produced by Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre and English National Opera (ENO).

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Igor Stravinsky and designer Nicholas Roerich conceived The Rite of Spring as a sequence of ritual actions leading to the sacrifice of a young girl. This critically acclaimed re-imagining draws deeply on the same ancient, savage forces that inspired the Russian composer and his collaborators nearly one hundred years ago – fertility rites, ancestor worship, tribal and sexual politics, sacred dance, sacrifice – eternal themes which still connect us powerfully to our origins and to the earth. Women play central roles within a large, predominantly male cast, in a dance theatre work that honours the searing modernity of Stravinsky’s music with visual imagery of both primitive strength and elemental beauty.

'The catalyst of the work is the Cailleach, a hag, and under her witchy spell the men start to revert to an atavistic ritual world. They herd into a pack, wielding knives against the weakest and oldest, and their menace turns murderous as they put on dogs’ heads to hunt down the three young women on stage. With their rabid masks and their snuffling, predatory moves, these dog-men are terrifying… Keegan-Dolan deviates startlingly from Stravinsky… The most powerful force in the world is finally shown to be female. This is a bold flipping of tradition, but the pay-off is worth it.'

Judith Mackrell, The Guardian ★★★★