At the weekend I went to see Scottish Ballet's double bill of The Rite of Spring and Elite Syncopations at the Theatre Royal.
The Rite of Spring was first performed in 1913 in Paris and caused outrage. No-one really knows exactly why this ballet caused such a stir, but it is generally speculated that is was the music itself which, for the time, would be considered outrageous with its dissonant chords and almost mechanical sounds and notes. The dancing would also have caused shock as the dancers movements, which would have been girating and almost aggressive, would certainly not have been anything like Stravinsky's previous ballet, Petrushka.
The original story is about Paganism in Russia. A young girl is sacrificed in a ritual welcoming the arrival of spring and she dances herself to her death. The cast is large and the ballet is a lavish affair.
However, Chris' version is stripped right back to only 3 dancers on stage - two males and one female - and a stark white set. The themes of the original version - human sacrifice and brutality - remain, but this time centres around two brothers who are conflicted about their religion as one brother is gentle and pious compared to his bullying older brother, who grows more militant in his religious beliefs. The female character, Faith, represents faith and hope. The relationship between the brothers eventually becomes that of prisoner and prison officer as the older brother imprisons and tortures his younger sibling to try to make him change his views. Faith looks on and we see the young brother grow more desperate as she seems to ignore his pleas to help him as he dances himself to his death.
My pointe teacher plays the role of Faith and she was incredible, as were the other dancers, both of whom I've seen many times.
Mercifully, the evening ended on a high note as we were transported to a 1920's dance competition for Elite Syncopations. No storyline as such, just great dancing and plenty of comedy.
I always come away feeling really inspired after I've seen a Scottish Ballet performance and am very excited for Hansel & Gretel.