Sherman Cymru, Cardiff, Tues 8 Apr
The premiere of the Rite Of Spring, just over a century ago in Paris, famously caused a riot, though it’s never been entirely clear whether it was Stravinsky’s revolutionary modernist score or Nijinsky’s choreography which caused the punters to pummel each other. Despite the relatively poor quality of the sound in the venue this evening the force of Stravinsky’s music is unmistakeable. This is music which sounds like it is being dragged from some hidden place within the earth.
Spring is here and it’s not gentle breezes and newborn lambs; it’s the earth waking from sleep in a terrifying way. The rite itself is a human sacrifice, and this terrible act of paganism commands the earth to bring forth life. Fabulous Beast have created a show which emphasises the fury inherent in this piece, the dancing bringing to mind Kubrick’s balletic violence in A Clockwork Orange.
Petrushka, Stravinsky’s earlier ballet, is also concerned with vitality, but here it is a puppet that comes to life. Fabulous Beast’s dancers communicate a real sense of joy in the opening scenes of the piece, before the story takes on a darker hue.
Fabulous Beast have created two contrasting yet complimentary pieces, and while both ballets have long since been absorbed into the standard repertoire they have brought to bear a freshness and élan which illuminates the deeper meaning of the pieces and makes them new again.
words DAVID GRIFFITHS