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In the article,  “100 years ago today, ‘The Rite of Spring’ incited a riot in a Paris theater”, the author talks about how The Rite of Spring ballet performance by Igor Stravinsky, caused mayhem and chaos. Through the bizzare and violent moves the ballet artists were doing many people were confused and even horrified at seeing such an odd form of ballet. 2 factions soon broke out leading to a major arguement in the theather and leading to police involvement. The story has been extremely overexaggerated as some people say that violence incited and many people were injured. But the author says that no such violence occured but arguments insued.

In the article, Did Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring incite a riot at its premiere?, the author argues that what actually happened is that aristocrats were not used to what the performance portrayed so they procceeded to bash it instead of having an open mind, saying ” these practices were very racist” and the aristocrats were laughing at these racist jokes. Those who actually cared about the Rite of Spring and wanted to critique it got mad at the aristocrats for being loud and laughing. The author says “Levitz speculates, “In truth, only those sitting close to the people who uttered these insults probably heard them at all.” meaning that the people who even heard the insults blew it way out of proportion leading to a major argument and insults being thrown around. Since the recordings of the experience of what happened was through the lens of somebody in the balcony, most of the things we know now could be seen as over exxagerated. The author states “The first mention of physical altercations at the premiere came from eyewitness Carl van Vechten, who claimed that a man sitting behind him “beat rhythmically on the top of my head with his fists.” Meaning that the man that claimed this might’ve lied and blew it out of proportion when in reality it was not a riot but rather a smaller altercation.

I thought this ballet was very interesting but I did not like the racist jokes that were used for humor. However, that is only through the context of nowadays. If I was apart of the audience back when this was released for the first time and I was a white male, due to the social context I would probably laugh at it as well. But as a critic I would be mad at the aristocrats laughing during the performance. Overall, my feelings are mixed.

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June 2024

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