The Riot of Spring – Fringe Arts

Everyone loves a good scandal and the riotous 1913 premiere of The Rite of Spring was easily one of the biggest in the history of twentieth century art. The orchestral-choreographic work—­a collaboration between composer Igor Stravinsky, choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, and Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes—portrays rituals of pagan Russia. Though its structure is episodic, the work as a whole is unified around, as Stravinsky put it, “the mystery and great surge of the creative power of Spring.” Perhaps spurred by the avant-garde nature of the music—with its dissonance and pulsing rhythm—or the shocking choreography—eschewing ballet’s expected gracefulness for sharp, jerky movements—the audience quickly began laughing, shouting, scuffling among each other, and hurling objects at the orchestra.

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