Igor Stravinsky and designer Nicholas Roerich conceived The Rite of Spring as a sequence of ritual actions leading to the sacrifice of a young girl. This critically acclaimed re-imagining draws deeply on the same ancient, savage forces that inspired the Russian composer and his collaborators nearly one hundred years ago – fertility rites, ancestor worship, tribal and sexual politics, sacred dance, sacrifice – eternal themes which still connect us powerfully to our origins and to the earth. Women play central roles within a large, predominantly male cast, in a dance theatre work that honours the searing modernity of Stravinsky’s music with visual imagery of both primitive strength and elemental beauty.

The Rite of Spring

Igor Stravinsky and designer Nicholas Roerich conceived The Rite of Spring as a sequence of ritual actions leading to the sacrifice of a young girl. This critically acclaimed re-imagining draws deeply on the same ancient, savage forces that inspired the Russian composer and his collaborators nearly one hundred years ago – fertility rites, ancestor worship, tribal and sexual politics, sacred dance, sacrifice – eternal themes which still connect us powerfully to our origins and to the earth. Women play central roles within a large, predominantly male cast, in a dance theatre work that honours the searing modernity of Stravinsky’s music with visual imagery of both primitive strength and elemental beauty.

The catalyst of the work is the Cailleach, a hag, and under her witchy spell the men start to revert to an atavistic ritual world. They herd into a pack, wielding knives against the weakest and oldest, and their menace turns murderous as they put on dogs’ heads to hunt down the three young women on stage. With their rabid masks and their snuffling, predatory moves, these dog-men are terrifying… Keegan-Dolan deviates startlingly from Stravinsky… The most powerful force in the world is finally shown to be female. This is a bold flipping of tradition, but the pay-off is worth it.

Judith Mackrell, The Guardian ★★★★

Few choreographers are a match for Stravinksy’s The Rite of Spring… Nearly 200 have tried and the latest is Michael Keegan-Dolan whose Fabulous Beast company premiered his potent new version last weekend … an unexpectedly redemptive twist to the usual murderous climax.

Louise Levene, Sunday Telegraph ★★★★★

The deployment of animal heads — hares for the three women and hounds for the men — emphasise the predatory aspect of the natural world; while the gender transition as the men remove their clothes and put on dresses before The Chosen One… dances in a death frenzy suggests female empowerment that invokes the earth goddess Gaia. It reaches deep into Stravinsky’s music and ferrets around in the entrails to pull out raw, bleeding chunks of movement. An evening of pure theatrical voodoo. Get strong and go.

Neil Norman, Daily Express

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Director: Michael Keegan-Dolan

Conductor: Edward Gardner

Designer: Rae Smith

Lighting Designer: Adam Silverman

Cast: Nathan Attard, Robert Bell, Dan Canham, Seke Chimutengwende, Michael Dolan, Martin Dvořák, Valentina Formenti, Olwen Fouéré, Milos Galko, Mathis Kleinschnittger, Saku Koistinen, Jarkko Lehmus, Bill Lengfelder, Alex Sasha Leonhartsberger, Francesco Mangiacasale, Philippe Mesia, Peter Mills, Innpang Ooi, Neil Paris, Ryen Perkins Gangnes, Lorena Randi, Angelo Smimmo, Vladislav Benito Sóltys, Daphne Strothmann.

Music by Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971). Co-produced by Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre and English National Opera (ENO). This production first performed by Fabulous Beast and ENO at the London Coliseum, November 2009.