Sometime back I read a biography of Coco Chanel. Now I don't consider myself to be a person who is hugely into fashion, I like clothes that are comfortable and that fit. If they look good, I consider that to be a bonus. Before I read the biography of Coco Chanel I was channel surfing one night and found myself watching the Lifetime movie about her life, the one with Shirley Mc Clain. This inspired me to learn more about the eccentric woman who changed the face of women's fashion forever. She was also a supporter of the Ballets Russes and Stravinsky. Now I have developed an interest in the Ballets Russes and Stravinsky as well. I watched a documentary about Ballets Russes and many of the members who danced in the 1930's-1950's were still living and were interviewed in this film, which was made in the year 2000. It was fascinating. Also, where Balanchine got his start, but that is another story.
Our wonderful SIFF Cinema here in Seattle showed an HD production of three Ballets Russes performances, Firebird, The Rite of Spring, and The Wedding. These were done by the Kirov Ballet and filmed in Russia in 2008. What awesome reproductions. Because of choreographers like Balanchine, ballets are no longer performed with quite that much going on in terms of sets and actions (unless it is the Nutcracker). Everything today is more specialized, we have ballet, drama, theater, modern dance, etc., etc. and they each occupy a niche, but do not often overlap. These three productions comprised all three and pretty much all at once and all to the dark swirling cacophonous overtones of Stravinsky's melodies. Beautiful.
The Rite of Spring started riots at its Paris debut in 1913. The theater was in such an uproar that the dancers were counting outloud on stage because they couldn't hear the music. People were upset because the music was not the sweet and peaceful kind usually paired with a ballet, the dance was decidedly modern (perhaps the first modern dance to ever be brought to stage), and the story was about sacrificing a virgin. I have to say, of the three, this was my least favorite. I am a sometime fan of modern dance, but I just like watching ballet more.
My favorite performance was Firebird. The woman who danced the part of the Firebird, well I could just sit and watch her dance all day. They say that arm movements are very important for Kirov dancers and her arm movements were just lovely. The stage was also fantastic, more like a theater or opera setting. I loved the mixed artistic pairings all the way around. I am so glad that I made time in my busy mid-week mothering and work schedule to see this.