Pina Bausch’s groundbreaking The Rite of Spring (1975) has become a modern classic for ballet companies around the world to take up and put into their repertoire. But this collaboration between Sadler’s Wells, Pina Bausch Foundation and École des Sables is doing something very exciting.
Firstly, it’s an all-black cast of up to twenty-eight dancers, which creates a completely different look and feel to that of a typical European ballet company. Secondly, this is the first time that The Rite is being performed by a non-company: in other words, every single dancer has been specially cast for their specific role within the piece. Thirdly, this is the first time the work has been performed by dancers from all over Africa, everywhere from Kenya to Madagascar.
In the middle of a pandemic, is this global touring logistical nightmare worth it? In the packed-out main house, the entire audience immediately rose to their feet in a screaming ovation. Germaine Acogny, co-founder of the École yes Sables in Senegal, says that she always “felt it was an African rite” from the first time she saw Bausch’s work, and to be able to follow through so authentically on that idea is quite amazing.
Despite the diversity of dance backgrounds in the cast, the ensemble is outstanding. The work is as gripping as ever, and Stravinsky’s (pre-recorded) score has our hearts racing. A long-awaited triumph.
[The Rite of Spring was originally programmed to play in a double bill with Germaine Acogny & Malou Airaudo’s common ground[s], which has unfortunately been cancelled due to Covid cases. Instead, a post-show Q&A takes place after The Rite of Spring. The Rite of Spring is usually performed by a cast of 26-28 dancers, but has been reworked at short notice for 24 dancers, due to Covid cases.]
Playing 7 – 11 June 2022 at Sadler’s Wells.