14 March 2011

Stravinsky & The Riotous Spring

copyright (c) 2009 Sharon Edmunds
Stravinsky & The Riotous Spring, Acrylic on Canvas, 18" x 14"

Igor Stravinsky was a wild, brilliant composer.

Vaslav Nijinsky was a visionary dancer/choreographer.

Serge Diaghilev was Diaghilev, the 'mad for beauty' man, the founder of Ballets Russes.

Diaghilev would bring these two together for the ballet called Le Sacre du Printemps / Rite of Spring. It would premiere on 29 May 1913 in Paris at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees.

During Act I, the audience started shouting - those who hated it, against those who liked it. There were fist fights in the aisles. The crowd was so noisy that the dancers couldn't hear the music. Nijinsky called out the beats. The police were called in. By the end of Act III, there was a riot.

Stravinsky would claim it was because of his music. The aggressive dissonances and complex rhythmic patterns were too new for many. The Rite of Spring would make Stravinsky internationally famous. He is now considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th Century.

Nijinsky's choreography was considered the real cause of the riot. This choreography was something that had never been experienced before. He used turn-in positions instead of Classical Ballet's turn-out stances. It was angular, rather than rounded. The main focus of dancing was from the core of the body, instead of the usual emphasis on the dancer's feet and legs. And it broke all tradition by yearning for the earth instead of the sky. Many in the audience were appalled. They did not realize that they were witnessing the foundations for the beginning of Modern Dance.

Diaghilev was very pleased with the entire event!

Diaghilev never allowed his Ballets Russes to be filmed. He thought that film technique would not capture the true performance. Until the Joffrey Ballet recreated the original Rite of Spring, using the original score, choreography, costumes and sets, in 1987, many people were left to wonder what actually happened on that stage. This is Act III:

(Uploaded by Fatovamingus,
10:00, Jan 30, 2010)

This portrait concludes my "Russian Icon Trilogy: Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, & Stravinsky"


  1. Hi Sharon, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a lovely comment... I love ballet and classical music but for some reason I do not get much exposure to them-- though I did see the movie the BLACK SWAN.

  2. Crazy Russians! What a wild ballet! I like your painting--do you hang all 3 together?

  3. Hi Layers, thank you for dropping by. I still haven't seen Black Swan. Hoping to soon.

    Stephanie! Yeah, it is a wild ballet - bears and all! It has been updated by Bejart & his Ballet of the 20th Century - more contemporary, still wild! Yes, the Russian Icon Trilogy is one piece.

  4. Hi Sharon,
    Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments!
    And what a treat I found here! I love your Russian Icon Trilogy, I think you've got the essence of these great composers.

  5. Hi Elena and Russ,
    Thank you! Your comment is deeply appreciated.