Romeo Castellucci The Rite of Spring


One hundred years after its first tumultuous first night at the Théâtre des Champs-élysées,   The Rite of Spring, Stravinsky’s musical manifesto - and Nijinsky’s choreography - has lost nothing of its overwhelming might. “It’s made for the nerves, not for the conscience. It moves on at such a pace, that in epidermic terms, it’s a bit like being electrocuted.”, says Romeo Castellucci, who wanted to “rekindle this shock effect”. But not by altering a single bar of the thirty-four minutes and a few seconds of the piece’s duration, but by revisiting the very notion of choreography. In Romeo Castellucci’s version, any “pictures of Pagan Russia” have been replaced by a dust ballet, during which movements across the stage, the interplay between between the shapes, and rhythms are controlled by the director through the use of sophisticated machinery. The powder he uses to this effect is an industrially-made one taken from ground-up bones, used as fertilizer. With its ghostly dimension, this ballet, centered on the sacrifice of the “the Chosen One”, strikes us with its echoes of the Book of Genesis: “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” This particular Rite is preceded by a piece by Scott Gibbons, the musician who has accompanied the work of Romeo Castellucci for the last fifteen years. With the aid of high-tech scientific instruments, the American composer listens in to the rustling of atoms, plunging into the world of the infinitely small. He creates the effect of penetrating beneath the ground, into the midst of light-starved germinations, before they explode into Spring.