Bringing it back: Nijinsky’s RITE tonight

A Joffrey Ballet dancer in THE RITE OF SPRING, as reconstructed by Hodson and Archer. Photo courtesy CPA.

A Joffrey Ballet dancer in Vaslav Nijinsky’s THE RITE OF SPRING, as reconstructed by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer. Photo courtesy CPA.

Tonight and tomorrow the fabulous Joffrey Ballet will perform in UNC’s Memorial Hall, in one of the most eagerly-awaited programs of Carolina Performing Arts’ year-long investigation of Igor Stravinsky’s THE RITE OF SPRING, its offshoots and permutations. The Joffrey will dance Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer’s reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet that made folks go crazy when the music and dance premiered simultaneously in Paris 100 years ago.

Hodson spoke at UNC’s excellent academic conference on THE RITE last fall, and she was super. She had the crowd on its feet, attempting to follow her through the complex rhythms of the music, and in the process, made its powerful construction both clearer and more astounding. Now she’s back, with reconstruction partner Archer, and they will present the “Program Notes Live” before the performances on the 23 and 24. The FREE talks take place in the Historic Playmakers Theatre an hour before performance time in Memorial Hall, and would be well worth attending, even if you are not seeing the dance. See the CPA site for more info.

A RITE Has Its World Premiere at Carolina Performing Arts

My review of the world premiere of the Carolina Performing Arts-commisioned A Rite, by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the SITI Company,  was published 1/28/13 in

A Rite, at its  premiere,1/26/13, CPA. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

A Rite, at its Chapel Hill, NC, premiere, 1/26/13, CPA. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

In a year so replete with good stuff, including twelve commissioned works, as Carolina Performing Arts’  2012-13 season, one could start to feel overwhelmed. And one could start to get really tired of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, the focus of CPA’s series within a series examining that era-changing work from many points of view. However, that’s not happening. Instead, each new performance increases interest in that complex music, the dance that accompanied it—and the ones that have followed—and the ideas that swirl around them. On January 26, (delayed one day by icy weather) CPA presented in Memorial Hall what may be the most intellectually important of its dozen commissions this year, A Rite, a collaborative production of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and SITI Company, headed by Anne Bogart. This brawny baby was three years from conception to premiere.

"Dactors" on the Memorial Hall stage for the premiere of A RITE. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

“Dactors” on the Memorial Hall stage for the premiere of A RITE. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

Bill T. Jones has moved further and further into dance theater over the years. While he has an unerring sense of spectacle, I have never felt his command of theater idiom equaled his command of dance. Working with Anne Bogart and the highly physical SITI Company, as well as his associate artistic director Janet Wong, Jones and his company have found a much stronger theatrical voice….


The academic character modeled on UNC Professor Severine Neff rides the piano in A RITE. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

The academic character modeled on UNC Professor Severine Neff rides the piano in A RITE. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

Free thinking at UNC this week

I’ve been blabbing a lot in various places about Carolina Performing Arts’ crazy big season focusing on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which is coming up on its 100th birthday. The academic centerpiece of this series is a multi-topic conference in Chapel Hill this Thursday-Sunday, October 25-28. An impressive array of scholars and critics will present papers and discuss just about any aspect of The Rite and its influence that you could possibly wish. There’s a ticketed opening performance, but other than parking, the rest is all FREE, and you don’t even have to register. See the schedule at I’m looking at Mary Davis (Fashion Institute of Technology) “Styling Le Sacre: The Rite’s Role in French Fashion” from Friday’s Session 1, and SESSION 3: DANCING THE RITE AFTER ITS PREMIERE, with several dance historians and critics.

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