Dance of the Young Girls -- Stravinsky
September 4, 2008 12:54 PM   Subscribe

(SLYTP-filter) What choreography goes best with Igor Stravinsky's "Dance of the Young Girls" from his Rite of Spring?

If you clicked on this and don't know about the Rite of Spring - start here.

More choreography by Angelin Preljocal - here.
posted by wittgenstein (43 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
And if you really want to dig deep, there's Modris Eksteins' The Rites Of Spring. Not so much an exploration of the ballet as the world that tore itself apart in its wake (WWI), and why.

Nice looking stuff by the way. I'll have to wait until after work for the full view.
posted by philip-random at 1:04 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sort of the cosmic step-sister of Gwen Verdon's "Walk It Out," if you ask me.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 1:06 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until I was in graduate school that I realized that The Rite of Spring was a ballet. When people use it as an example of how provocative and dangerous music can be, they always seem to leave out the dancing part.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:12 PM on September 4, 2008


The story goes that Leonard Bernstein was once rehearsing this piece, and couldn't get the orchestra to play with the level of expression he wanted. Frustrated, he yelled at the orchestra, "Don't you get it? This piece is all about SEX!" — after which they immediately played it better.

Which is to say: an interesting interpretation, but perhaps one needing an NSFW tag.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:14 PM on September 4, 2008


What choreography goes best with Igor Stravinsky's "Dance of the Young Girls" from his Rite of Spring?

I'm pretty sure it involves dinosaurs.
posted by LionIndex at 1:15 PM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


What Bristol and Levi were doing this March.
posted by nickyskye at 1:17 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


the very beginning of that choreography youtube video may not be safe for work for some people. apparently this version of the dance involves a girl taking her underwear off, so adjust your work sensors accordingly.
posted by shmegegge at 1:28 PM on September 4, 2008


oh also, I'm not sure if it gets any riskier than that since I stopped playing it at that point. i'm at work, so...
posted by shmegegge at 1:29 PM on September 4, 2008


Oops -- I should have thought of that. Can a mod add a "nsfw" to the original post?
posted by wittgenstein at 1:39 PM on September 4, 2008


Nijinski would be scandalised.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:42 PM on September 4, 2008


Heh - and here's a version with zombies!

(slightly NSFW - diaphanous costume)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:44 PM on September 4, 2008


Hawaii Calls /contributing to the NSFW tag.
posted by acro at 1:45 PM on September 4, 2008


(my link was more NSFW than I thought - ballerina boobies)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:50 PM on September 4, 2008


I was part of an orchestra that played this piece in college (cello). Definitely the most challenging thing I've played with a large group of people. the time signatures are odd and change what seems like every other measure. But the end result is haunting and beautiful. The whole thing is an exercise in the beauty of dissonance. I've never seen the whole thing with the ballet, only excerpts.
posted by DrDreidel at 1:51 PM on September 4, 2008


I remember being in college with an incredible professor who taught a course on Stravinsky. The classroom he had for it was more of a tiny lecture hall (for 15 or so people) and in a closet backstage he had a stereo hooked up to the room's PA system. He insisted on playing the music at blistering levels, and all I could think of was the inside album sleeve to the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed, where they wrote in big letters something along the lines of "THIS MUSIC IS MEANT TO BE PLAYED LOUD." While that was undeniably true of the Stones, it is to my mind equally true of Stravinsky. That shit is meant to be played loud. Every time I hear classical music elsewhere, it's this tiny sound coming from someone who doesn't appreciate loud noises and I can't help but think that they're doing it wrong.
posted by shmegegge at 2:11 PM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


/Ballerinas don't have boobies dear Ubu, they have bee-stings. In the Rite of Spring there're the birds and the bee-stings.
posted by nickyskye at 2:14 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


shmegge, go to Chicago some time & listen to the CSO play something by R. Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovich, or Stravinsky. The brass and winds there can peel paint off the walls when they're given free rein.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:25 PM on September 4, 2008


A reconstruction of what caused the audience to riot in 1913.
posted by pracowity at 2:48 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pants Off Dance Off!
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:05 PM on September 4, 2008


Interesting that Johnny Assay mentioned Bernstein, as one of the associations that came to my mind watching this was the West Side Story rumble.

I thought this was a fantastic piece.
posted by dhartung at 3:41 PM on September 4, 2008


So, for those of you who don't know the story, the snippet of the original post was the very opening of the the ballet. The story is about a girl who is ritually sacrificed by dancing herself to death. Immediately after viewing the first clip, I went holy hell, I wonder what he did with the sacrificial dance? This, apparently. Way, way NSFW.
posted by honeydew at 3:47 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dance is sexy or it's nothing. Alas for the dance, that since the fall of the USSR, the supply of sexy male (much less heterosexual male) dancers is drying up. Cuba may be the last source. (By the way, after these gals drop their panties, the clothes doffing stops. In any case, they are still wearing something panty-like under the skirts.)
posted by shambles at 4:02 PM on September 4, 2008


they have bee-stings

ah, thanks for keeping me abreast of the terminology.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:13 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm as clueless as they come — I've always loved the music, but had no idea that it was a ballet.
posted by Forktine at 4:45 PM on September 4, 2008


Well, you know, if you try to play Agon, for example, or almost any of Stravinsky's later works, as if it were the Rite (yeah, play it loud, man!), you're doing it equally wrong. Such an unusually sustained, fertile, and diverse creative life, and yet his popular image is almost entirely formed around those few early ballets which represent just a tiny fraction of the worlds he explored. It must have been frustrating.

(Hey, have you heard that new Metallica shit? Are they back to bashing out some good old-fashioned sixteenth notes or what? Check that snare, it's like bang! bang! bang! Right on.)

Anyway, when you are in the mood to deploy some sheer orchestral loudness, this is a very good way to do that. If it lacks the stabbing rhythms of Stravinsky, well - it is a steamroller, and those are not supposed to be frisky and capricious. They are just supposed to roll over things. (I really don't know anything on disc that conveys more loudness than that ending.)
posted by Wolfdog at 4:54 PM on September 4, 2008


I've always loved the music, but had no idea that it was a ballet.

It's actually quite infamous. Unless I'm mistaken, the premiere was in Paris just before WW1, choreographed by the dance genius (later to become a nutter) Vaslav Nijinski, under Sergei Diaghilev.

Even better, the set was painted by none other than Nicholas Roerich, a Russian adventurer, philosopher, painter & founder of the Roerich Pact - an international treaty protecting cultural property (universities, galleries & museums) in times of war.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:08 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


(oh, did i mention that the premiere cause riots?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:08 PM on September 4, 2008


caused.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:08 PM on September 4, 2008


A lot the reason that the original show was so shocking was in fact the dance and costumes. Then, as now, ballet was usually lovely costumes, relaxed, smiling dancers and beautiful music. The Paris Opera theatergoers experienced not only the music we know so well, but crude peasant costumes in earth tones (I saw the very costumes, somewhat faded, when they were in Australia), angular haircuts, and dance styles ranging from the naïve (folk dances) to crude and violent.

As for Stravinsky's life, I don't think it was at all clear to him that The Rite of Spring was going to be what he was remembered for, I'll bet he'd have said Petrushka. He was pretty well successful his whole life, I'm sure he didn't worry too much about it.

A contemporary composer John Adams has written very charmingly about the fact that his piece Shaker Loops has been played more than all his other pieces put together ("What's wrong with the other ones?" he asks plaintively, but he's basically very happy he had one solid success and hasn't given up on having another). Here's a lovely performance of some kids doing the first part of it on YouTube.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:27 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I frickin' love Nijinsky and the Rite of Spring. I weep a little inside to know that the original choreography to the Rite of Spring has been lost.

Still, I think the Joffrey Ballet's recreation is remarkable, especially because they consulted all of the available source material and combined that information with interviews with dancers from the original production, their relatives and their letters. A few parts have been linked in this thread but here it is in its entirety (part 1, part2, part3). My favorite is The Mystic Circles of the Young Girls dance; it begins at about 6 minutes into the part 2. If you watch any of this at all let it be that.

What choreography goes best with Igor Stravinsky's "Dance of the Young Girls" from his Rite of Spring?

In my opinion, not the one linked above. It's not that I don't like modern dance, but I find that the mistake that most choreographers make today is that they are too visceral, too blunt with their message. I found the rendition above to be obnoxious compared to the Joffrey Ballet's, especially if you look at the JB's rendition of the Ritual of Abduction (starting at about 6:30 in part 1). Both cover essentially the same subject matter, but the JB's version doesn't make me want to punch anyone in the face.

Part of my negative reaction is to the way the dance fit with the music. The initial part of the piece is actually choreographed to the introduction section of the Rite of Spring it's not until the men stand up that the the music for the The Augurs of Spring/Dances of the Young Girls begins, which is the one section in this ballet that oscillates in musical tone most wildly. That causes the (intense) rape scene to clash with the lighter parts. It might have been more consistent to use a more even part of the ballet, but it's possible that whoever put this piece together wanted to lead off with the familiar sounds of the opening bassoon.
posted by Alison at 5:57 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


and dance styles ranging from the naïve (folk dances) to crude and violent

Yep. The thing I remember, from having seen a similar reconstruction on a documentary a while back, was the unusual flat-footed and edge-of-soles dancing, which horrified audiences fixated on the idea that ballet must involve points. Vaughan-Williams, to a lesser extent, got the same hassles with his Job: A Masque for Dancing when he specified it was not to be done in standard balletic style.
posted by raygirvan at 6:00 PM on September 4, 2008


He was pretty well successful his whole life
In some ways this is true; with his reputation he could get attractive commisions and there was more to his activities than composing, but as an experiment next time you're at a concert ask someone nearby to name a couple of pieces by Stravinsky after the Rite. (Or check the playlist of your local classical station.) To be fair, there are some reasonably well-known ones, but I still say the later work tends to largely live in the shadow of the early successes. Also fair to say that whatever drove Stravinsky to keep developing his compositional style, it wasn't a deep-seated need for popular acceptance, so I agree that he probably wasn't upset about failing to produce a big hit. But then again I think he was probably as proud of the 1952 Cantata, say, as the Rite; and yet hardly anyone spoke of it. It might nearly as well have been produced in a vacuum. No matter how strong your convictions as an artist, that can't be as satisfying as the rich & fiery discussions that grew up around the Rite; never mind the purely popular sensation of it.

I do think the famous riot was less about the music or the dance than it was about an explosive mix of personalities being present in the audience. By that point the world had seen Strauss's Salome and heard Schoenberg's Five Orchestral Pieces and was not really going to be scandalized by it unless they were itching for a fight anyway.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:21 PM on September 4, 2008


One of my favorites, thanks, if you ever want to hear Igor's take on happy birthday check out his "Greetings prelude" Dumbarton Oaks, kids love it .
posted by hortense at 9:06 PM on September 4, 2008


Rite of Spring -- or Rite of Spring Break?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:28 PM on September 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Radio Lab talked about this in their episode on musical language.
posted by bananafish at 10:38 PM on September 4, 2008


Dancing with their pants around their ankles made me laugh. It looks like a stun bomb has gone off in the women's toilet.

Other than that, though, there's some fine stuff here.
posted by pracowity at 1:43 AM on September 5, 2008


Thanks alot guys. After watching those videos I destroyed my living room. Who is going to clean this up?
posted by jlowen at 7:42 AM on September 5, 2008


The beestings in combination with Stravinsky didn't cut it for me - Solution: play the sound from acro's YT whilst watching UbuRoivas' YT... (disclaimer: might have to repeat hawaii music and it actually gets more disturbing rather than less)
posted by yoHighness at 10:39 AM on September 5, 2008


Well, someone has to link to the Disney version. Might as well be me! Sure is gorgeous animation.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2008


Oh, man, I'd forgotten what hot shit Stravinsky is. I really must go out and listen to more of his stuff. Thanks for the reminder wittgenstein and the rest.

...and then on to Bartok and Schoenberg and oh my!
posted by Kattullus at 9:48 PM on September 5, 2008


wolfdog: here's my whole quote.

As for Stravinsky's life, I don't think it was at all clear to him that The Rite of Spring was going to be what he was remembered for, I'll bet he'd have said Petrushka. He was pretty well successful his whole life, I'm sure he didn't worry too much about it.

It's not clear how this is at all in apposition to your statements, and I certainly didn't claim that Rite isn't by far his most famous piece today.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:48 AM on September 6, 2008


No disagreement, just a launching point for a little further thought.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:49 AM on September 6, 2008


Crap.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:45 PM on September 6, 2008


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