Ballet West’s The Rite of Spring

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Ballet West’s The Rite of Spring

“We act as a conduit for the observers’ unexpressed desires, the silent appreciation they may contain for anything; a lover, a river, a building even.” ― Author Guy Mankowski on the ballet dancer

Ballet West’s spring 2014 program includes three pieces: Jirí Kylián’s “Forgotten Land,” set to Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem; George Balanchine’s “Divertimento No. 15” by Mozart; and the world premiere of Ballet West’s resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte’s interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” This is the second work by Igor Stravinsky that Ballet West has taken on during it’s 50th anniversary season—with his Firebird staged at Kingsbury Hall last fall.

Opening with Kylián’s “Forgotten Land,” premiering in Utah for the first time, the stage is bare with an artistic backdrop behind the dancers costumed in shades of reds, whites and grays. The powerful but graceful movements of the ballerinas were exaggerated by their long dresses and deftly propelled the audience through a rhythmic, natural ebb and flow of the highs and lows of human relationships represented by this dance.

Classical ballet lovers will find solace in the second piece—Divertimento No. 15. A celebration of highly skilled ballerinas, this work includes just three men while five women dance the principal roles and another eight make up the ensemble dressed in pastel blue and yellow tutus adored with bows. Choreographed beautifully by Balanchine with mesmerizing music by Mozart, this piece presents challenging footwork masked by the effortless elegance of the dancers—particularly that of Christiana Bennett.

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Capitol Theatre presents Ballet West’s The Rite of Spring

After the second intermission, the audience sees the curtain rise on a new version of The Rite of Spring. In an earlier interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Fonte, who also choreographed this work in 2006, explained, “I want the curtain to go up and you’re either mesmerized by it or you reject it — but you’re going to have a reaction.”

Unlike much of the audience in Capitol Theatre on opening night, I found The Rite of Spring chaotic and frenzied—even raw perhaps. Dramatic to be sure, dancers clad in black unitards mix and mingle in small groups, solos and ensembles as a young man, danced by Ballet West Academy’s Henry Winn, journeys through a rite of passage. Throughout the performance, dancers emerge from the metal-like walls in ballet slippers, pointe shoes and, finally, bare feet where the performance crescendos with a splash as a basin of water cleanses the stage and dancers beneath it.

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Capitol Theatre

The Rite of Spring continues at Capitol Theatre Wednesday-Saturday, April 16-19 at 7:30 p.m. with an additional matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 19. Ticket prices range from $24 to $74 and can be purchased at ArtTix.org.

Capitol Theatre

50 W. 200 South

 

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