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Tuesday October 4th

130 artists from UNC School of the Arts give ‘Rite of Spring’ event

Shen Wei Dance Arts performs Rite of Spring staged by Kate Jewett in Memorial Hall Saturday and Sunday night at 8pm.
Buy Photos Shen Wei Dance Arts performs Rite of Spring staged by Kate Jewett in Memorial Hall Saturday and Sunday night at 8pm.

This weekend, 130 dancers, musicians and artists from UNC School of the Arts will travel with their directors to Chapel Hill to present their interpretation of works surrounding “The Rite of Spring.”

The event will include four pieces, beginning with Shen Wei’s contemporary version of “The Rite of Spring” and ending with Susan Jaffe’s debut in choreography as the school’s new dean of dance.


Time: 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Location: Memorial Hall

The performance will take place on the same stage where the Joffrey Ballet performed and where the Martha Graham Dance Company will perform next week, all as a part of Carolina Performing Arts’ “The Rite of Spring at 100” season.

“This year is a celebration of ‘The Rite of Spring’ and what that meant,” Jaffe said. “We were shifting a paradigm — at the time that we went from realism to abstractionism.”

Jaffe said she incorporated these paradigm shifts into her choreography, which recreated an old piece of music with “The Rite of Spring” as a renewing inspiration.

One of the other dance pieces, Vaslav Nijinsky’s “Jeux,” is a precise recreation of the original 1913 dance. Millicent Hodson, a dance historian, and Kenneth Archer, a scenic designer, were both brought in by the School of the Arts to help accurately recreate every detail of Nijinsky’s piece.

“The ‘Jeux’ story seems, at first, a very light thing,” Hodson said. “But already in 1912 to 1913, an anti-war movement is internalized in the piece.”

Archer said recreating the piece was complex.

“You really have to do your homework, you have to put your time in and go into museums and look in archives and find the original designs,” Archer said.

Hodson said the three dancers featured in “Jeux,” two female and one male, are extremely professional — despite being undergraduate students — and represent Nijinsky’s original vision well.

“This trio of students has come really far,” Hodson said.

“It is quite a wonderful thing to see the way that youth culture is represented through them in this piece.”

Katharine Laidlaw, the school’s executive producer, said she was thrilled with the opportunities students of three different disciplines received.

Students will perform as dancers and musicians in the orchestra, and another group helped design each piece.

“This is very ambitious and very complicated because all the works we’ve chosen represent a completely different aesthetic,” Laidlaw said.

“These are young people who have literally dedicated their lives to the singular goal of becoming a performer. It’s not like going to see a dance recital — this is like going to see a professional company.”

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