The Rite of Spring


Kristin Cowden, Managing Editor

The Rite of Spring, composed by Igor Stravinsky is a ballet. However, it was found to be so offensive, that it caused a riot within the audience of the theatre. In the riot, fist fights broke out amongst the crowd. The ballet was so revolutionary for 1913, that it challenged many people’s ideas of what ballet was supposed to be.

The opening phrase of the show begins with a bassoon solo composed in an abnormally high register, while the dancers on stage divide into two groups facing opposite of each other. This emphasizes the theme of “Pagan Russia in two parts.” In the second phrase however, the dancers begin “The Sacrifice.”

During part 2, “The Sacrifice,” one of the young dancers is selected and honored as the chosen one to become the sacrifice for a ritual. The chosen one is then entrusted to care for the wise old men, as she dances herself to death in their presence during the great “Sacrificial Dance.”

So why is it still considered one of the most controversial ballets of the 20th century? Historians believe that it was the choreography established by Vaclav Nijinsky that provoked the controversy of what ballet really meant. However, Nijinsky’s choreography eventually inspired what was soon to be modern ballet.