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“Powerfully moving” – Svenska Dagbladet


An appealing evening of dance with Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ and Ohad Naharin.

“‘Decadance’ is an hour in dance paradise, and comes after a ‘Sacre’ which should have strong reverberations throughout Europe”Dagens Nyheter
“Deeply moving”Svenska Dagbladet
“GöteborgsOperans Danskompani dances wonderfully, both for and with their audience. Don't miss your chance!”Göteborgs-Posten

Kult presents two of the leading artists in contemporary dance: the legendary Ohad Naharin and rising star Roy Assaf.

Decadance Gothenburg

Ohad Naharin is a dance legend and Artistic Director of Israeli dance company Batsheva, one of the world’s foremost dance companies. As a choreographer, he has created a unique style based on his own movement philosophy: gaga. Solely for GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, Ohad Naharin has created a new version of his work, Decadance, called Decadance Gothenburg, an honour for us. Decadance is a work in constant flux; a kind of collage of Ohad Naharin’s best work. Decadance Gothenburg is an appealing work that brings the audience closer to the dance and the dancers themselves.

Decadance Gothenburg, trailer
Ohad Naharin talks about Decadance Gothenburg


Kult begins with Sacre, a world premiere created by the multi-award winning Israeli choreographer Roy Assaf, to Stravinsky’s phenomenal The Rite of Spring. A refined and exquisite counterpart to the potent music, played by the Göteborg Opera Orchestra. Stravinsky depicts a brutal ritual in which a young person is selected as a sacrifice, performing a dance to the death as the music reaches a crescendo. Assaf will bring new meaning to the music while the men and women of the dance company will take turns in the sacrifice.

Sacre is performed by either an all-female or and all-male cast on different evenings.

Physical introduction
8 Oct, 15 Oct at 4.45-5.30pm, Small stage. The Physical Introduction is in English.

Please note, when we have a Physical Introduction the regular spoken introduction is cancelled.

GöteborgsOperans Danskompani now offers the participatory format of Physical Introduction to all interested in deepening their insight into the company’s performances.

Open for everyone, these 1 hour physical explorations are a way of entering and experiencing various choreographic approaches, movement principles and aesthetic signatures. The physical engagement of audience members allows for a different perceptual contact with the performance, inviting the participants to connect and experiment within the physical (rather than just the visual) perspectives various works embody.

Led by the dancers of the company, Physical Introductions extend the performing space into a participatory, experiential environment, creating possibilities for a multitude of personal sensorial insights and exchanges.

Watch a film clip about Physical Introductions with Professor Ingo Diehl

Article by Astrid Hartmann, programme editor

The format is created and practiced by the MA Contemporary Dance Education (MA CoDE) at Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main. With the aim to remain in close collaboration and to foster further development of the format it is handed over by Prof. Ingo Diehl and Anja Bornsek for facilitation purposes to GöteborgsOperans Danskompani.

Read more about Prof. Ingo Diehl

We invite all the interested participants to join us. Comfortable clothes and shoes advisable but not obligatory.

Free entry with ticket, limited number of places (50 max).

Book ticket to physical introduction for Kult

Le Sacre du Printemps – The Rite of Spring

The first performance of the Ballets Russes’ fabled Le Sacre du Printemps was on May 29, 1913, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. It was a dance-drama choreographed by the legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, with music by Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky also wrote the libretto (or story) together with the set designer Nicholas Roerich. Such a synthesis of the arts, with music, the visual arts and dance forming equal parts of one whole, had never been undertaken in the world of the ballet.

Stravinsky and Roerich wanted the work to be based on a spectacular ritual celebrating the spring. Roerich was convinced that all art should be rooted in primitive ritual. Stravinsky’s thinking was more Modernist, and his music intertwined folk music with jazz and a pounding main theme; The Rite of Spring has been described as “prehistoric jazz.” Its creators’ differences notwithstanding, the show went on – but to scandalous effect. The French papers described audience boos and actual fisticuffs in the house. The din was so great the dancers could not hear the music, and the choreographer Nijinsky reportedly stood offstage beating time with a stick. Stravinsky was said to be so surprised and affronted that he departed Paris at once.

Roerich maintained that the ballet was not a fiasco: rather, it was an artistic synthesis that clearly stirred depths of feeling that only an artistic rite could reach. He thought its power had extended out past the stage to unite performers and audience. But he failed to make a case for the work’s unifying virtues. The work was staged only four times, each time before an agitated audience. Subsequently, the original choreography by Nijinsky disappeared. Since then, the Ballets Russes, the Rite’s creators, and especially its music have been repeatedly investigated and analyzed, interpreted and reinterpreted. Today The Rite of Spring is one of the few canonical Western ballets. The loss of Nijinsky’s choreography is probably part of the reason that so many choreographers have felt called to create their own versions. The story exerts a fascination that has proven a wellspring of inspiration for innovative choreographers.

New versions and a reconstruction

After years of research, the choreographer Millicent Hodson and the art historian Kenneth Archer created a reconstruction of The Rite of Spring for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987. Working from images, texts, interviews and costumes, they recreated Nijinsky’s choreography for the ballet. Today their reconstruction is danced all over the world. But this has not stopped other choreographers, both before and since, from choosing to perform the work in new and different ways.

First out with a new version was the Ballets Russes, which by 1920 had already reworked the choreography with the help of choreographer Léonide Massine. By then, Stravinsky’s music was world famous and they were hoping for a hit. The timing was fortuitous, as Nijinsky had just left the company for a solo career in Hungary, while Roerich had moved to the Himalayas to become a shaman. With the two men out of the picture, a decision was made to alter the dance. Nijinsky’s original concept of the dancers as a kind of allegory for Heaven and Earth was deemed too difficult. It was replaced by groups of women and men dancing before a wedding. Nijinsky’s choreography had not necessarily conceived the final sacrificial dance as a virgin sacrifice. It became one in Massine’s version. But these changes failed to produce a hit. The ballet was reimagined again in 1930, when Roerich did a new version in the United States with sets and costumes inspired by Native American peoples. The role of the sacrificial victim was danced by the then-unknown Martha Graham. In 1984, at age 90 and long since a legend, Graham created her own Rite of Spring. Not until 1956, when it went up at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, did Massine’s version obtain a certain measure of vindication.

Maurice Bejárt (1927–2007) met Nijinsky’s choreography as a young dance student, via a teacher who had performed in the original version. Bejárt felt Nijinsky’s artistic intentions had been shortchanged in the first version of the work. In 1959 he took up the gauntlet and created a new dance in the spirit of Nijinsky. In Bejárt’s ballet, women and men are primeval beings who awaken into a new world and are quickly divided into rival groups. Bejárt said his choreography should be interpreted as an allegory of the struggle between nature and civilization. His version has no virgin sacrifice. One woman and one man are chosen and unite in sexual ecstasy.

The most famous Rite of Spring of all time was created in 1975 by Pina Bausch (1940–2009). Her Frühlingsopfer is a starkly expressionist piece that is still danced today on stages around the world. The dancers perform on a stage covered in earth. The audience becomes party to a rape. As in Bejárt’s version, a woman is desecrated by a man. The female dancer, her red dress rent, performs a solo dance that ends as she falls, exhausted, face down in the dirt. Bausch’s work can be interpreted in many different ways, but it has most frequently been viewed as an allegory for German national guilt.

In recent years, many young choreographers have tackled the Rite. One of the most interesting new versions is by the Algerian choreographer and filmmaker Heddy Maalem, entitled Black Spring. This dance film from Nigeria is a reckoning with Western racialization of the movements of African bodies. It too has an allegorical subtext, this time involving the European colonization of Africa. Like Bausch, Maalem works on a political plane, using the explosive spring rite to raise larger issues of guilt and abuse.

The performance artist Xavier Le Roy depoliticized the rite in his 2007 version, in which he took the stage alone to conduct a pre-recorded version of Stravinsky’s music for the audience.

In the Göteborg Opera’s Sacre, choreographer Roy Assaf gives us yet another work with references to the mythical Le Sacre du Printemps. Assaf was born in 1982 in the isolated village of Sde Moshe in Israel. From 2000 until 2010 he worked periodically as an assistant choreographer to the Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat. It became a formative partnership for Assaf. In 2004, Gat created his own version of Le Sacre du Printemps, entitled Sacre, in which five dancers perform Cuban-style salsa to Stravinsky’s music on a small red carpet in the middle of the stage.

Assaf has partnered with various choreographers and also created his own works. A number of his projects problematize gender. In Girls (2014), set to Stravinsky’s La Sacre du Printemps, female dancers use their bodies to explore gendered forms of movement. His choreography was well received in Israel, and the next year he staged Boys, in which male dancers explore masculinity. In 2015 Assaf collaborated with the Swedish pianist Roland Pöntinen on Ballader (Ballads), which went up at the Royal Swedish Opera. Last year he signed on as choreographer for Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company.

It is hard to guess how many versions have been made of Le Sacre du Printemps. Dance historians consider the original production to have been ahead of its time, giving rise to a myth that has resonated with and energized choreographers ever since. The music has usually (not always) remained intact. Most versions have instead reworked the choreography to realize various visions of a spring sacrifice. Many also have new titles, chosen to evoke new allegories. In Assaf’s Sacre, it is the music that creates a kind of sanctity. With the orchestra on stage and the dancers on a floor projecting out toward the audience, Assaf’s choreography can be read as an intertext to Roerich’s original idea, in 1913, of uniting stage and house. The conductor is no more visible to the audience than the composer. 

World premiere 9 September 2017
11 performances, runs until 15 October.


Roy and Ohad

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