To Everything There is a Season

FrenetiCore's Rite of Summer pays homage to original 1913 Nijinsky/Stravinsky ballet

By Alese Pickering August 30, 2013

Image: Lynn Lane

The Rite of Summer
August 30 & 31 at 8
$10 early bird; $15 presale; $20 at the door; $25 reserved seating.
Frenetic Theater
5102 Navigation Blvd

In 1913 the ballet The Rite of Spring, choreographed by Vaslov Nijinsky and scored by Igor Stravinsky, premiered in Paris and caused a near-riot in the audience. The experimental music and dance were avant-garde, unlike anything audiences had ever experienced. Gone were the refined ballerinas doing perfect pirouettes. In their place were dancers dressed as pagans, acting out a mating ritual that ended with the sacrificial virgin dancing herself to death. Nijinsky’s ballet was so ill received at the time that it wasn’t performed again until the Joffrey Ballet in Los Angeles resurrected it in 1987.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the The Rite of Spring, FrenetiCore Dance Theater is performing an homage to Nijinsky’s famous piece. Set to a stunningly reimagined version of Stravinsky’s score by laptop musician Chris Becker, The Rite of Summer celebrates the steamy season through which Houstonians are now suffering. Artistic Director Rebecca French’s choreography is inspired by Nijinsky’s movements but becomes its own beautiful beast. Summer seems less about the rituals of human nature and more about the rituals of mother nature on a microscopic level. The music, which samples Stravinsky’s original score, combines technological elements with natural sounds: tree limbs breaking, movement through grass, and I could have sworn I heard cicadas.

FrenetiCore, an experimental dance company founded by French in 2003, is all about pushing boundaries. They continue to do so here, but with welcome restraint and often gorgeous results. At times the dancers move together like cells in a biological system. The movement ranged from organic and fluid to sharp and staccato, bringing to mind the constant movement of flora and fauna in a hot summer landscape. A gorgeous duet between two male dancers en pointe was a highlight of the show. 

I couldn’t help but wonder what those 1913 Parisians would have thought.

[The Rite of Summer plays for two more nights at Frenetic Theater with an opening act by guest dance troupe Psophonia]

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