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Introduction

A primeval community marks the arrival of spring with celebratory and sacrificial rituals.

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Background

The premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 1913 was a defining moment in 20th-century art. The challenging avant-garde nature of the work prompted rioting in the audience, the music drowned out by boos and shouts. The original choreography was created by Vaslav Nijinsky on Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Over the last century, numerous other versions have been created – a testament to the enduring power of Stravinsky’s extraordinary score.

Kenneth MacMillan created his own distinctive version in 1962, the year of Stravinsky’s 80th birthday. MacMillan’s visceral and energetic choreography follows the irregular rhythms and driving pulse of the music. With designs by Australian artist Sidney Nolan inspired by Aboriginal art, the ballet explores elemental human concerns: birth and death, sacrifice and renewal. The role of the sacrificial Chosen One, characterized by strong, angular movements, was created on Monica Mason, former Director of The Royal Ballet.