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Misir Blog 5

In the first article, “100 years ago today, ‘The Rite of Spring’ Incited a Riot in a Paris Theater”, the author believes that the riot began after the first few notes of the song. It’s stated that a high pitched bassoon caused the audience to start laughing. It’s stated that the tension started increasing and by the time the dancers reached the stage. The dancers started doing violent and bizzare dance moves. The audience started doing catcalls and it became so loud that Vaslav Nijinsky, the choreographer, started yelling commands from backstage. Eventually two factions formed in the audience, which started a fight in the crowd. The orchestra became under siege by the audience. It’s unclear if the police were ever called, but 40 people were ejected from the building. It was described by Henri Quittard as “puerile barbarity”. It is believed that the “near-riot” that took place may have been overly exaggerated, and was really just a disagreement between people who liked the old fashioned way of ballet and those who wanted something new.

The next article, “Did Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring Incite a Riot at its Premiere?”, the author gives us some background into the ballet, stating it as a ritual sacrifice in prehistoric Russia. It was expected to be a major cultural event. It had many big names attached to it, besides Stravinsky, there was also, The Ballet Russes, a famous dance group, and Vaslav Nijinsky, a famous and shocking dance choreographer. The show itself was like nothing the audience had ever seen before. Ugly costumes, dark music, and heavy choreography shocked the audience. The audience booed them, however some in the crowd defended them and hurled insults at the other half of the crowd. It became so loud that no one, including the dancers, could hear the music. The fighting became so bad that the people resorted to physical violence.

The truth however, may not be so exciting. As rumors are, they tend to be overexaggerated with time and this leads to myths to surround them. The truth of the matter may be that it was more of a political argument that spurred between the two groups. Also, the accounts of what happened that night do not account for any physical fights, despite all the verbal insults that were shouted by the aristocrats. It has also been noted that the dancers took 5 curtain calls, and Nijinsky continued with another ballet, which would not have been possible if a riot broke out.

I really liked the music in the ballet. The dancing was good too, and it reminded me of The Exorcist, as well as the costume. If I was in the audience in 1913, I would have really liked it because of how different is was to everything else at the time.

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May 2024

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