Ballet West gets it right with a new 'Rite'

By Heather Hayes

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, April 14 2014 5:00 p.m. MDT

As dancers broke into small groups and solos, further exploration of the music, particularly its rhythms, led to profound revelations. The pas de trois with Tom Mattingly, Zachary Prentice and Alexander MacFarlan was especially powerful, as was a drumming musical climax when 16 dancers illuminate the stage with frenzied, visceral movement.

Throughout, a particular dancer would be singled out suddenly and become ostracized from the collective. This seemed one of the few nods to Vaslav Nijinsky’s original choreography, where a “chosen” individual is selected.

A young boy, danced by BW academy student Henry Winn, also made regular appearances throughout the ballet, sometimes standing as if a symbol of judgment and other times joining in the dance. Winn performed beyond his years with thoughtful maturity and grace.

A golden full moon suspended from the top of the stage gradually tipped horizontally until it appeared to be more dish than disk. During the final moments of the ballet, Katherine Lawrence and the young Winn stood under it as it began to fill with water from some heavenly spout. Ultimately, the bowl tipped, spilling water on the two, who then danced in the puddles, flinging water with their feet in childlike freedom.

Ballet West chose to present a new version of “The Rite of Spring” that would ultimately give 21st-century audiences new ears to hear Stravinsky’s masterful score. By abandoning a formal libretto, the choreography called greater attention to the complex rhythms and tonal experiments. Not only did Ballet West blow minds with its inexhaustible strength, agility and grace, it also elevated a piece of music for those in the audience, helping them to discover new aspects of Stravinsky’s genius.

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