Stage and Studio: Sacre

Another memory for keeping: My second year in the company we brought back Nijinsky’s iconic le Sacre du Printemps or Rite of Spring. Years ago it was Robert Joffrey who took on the task of reviving this iconic ballet and what an honor it was to be a part of this continuing legacy. Scare is a visual and musical work of genius. The dancers create ever changing patterns of color and rhythm, accented with stomping and twirling. The music, Stravinsky, is matched to the measure requiring the dancers to memorize endless sets of counts (onetwothreefour, onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight, onetwo, onetwothreefourfive...)This is a ballet from another era. It tells stories from a time when humans were one with nature, dependent on the abundance or scarcity of season, and reverent of their traditions and gods. The ballet is abstract, told in a language of dance that seems foreign even to us dancers. And yet it is deeply emotional.

At the end of the ballet there is a famous scene of sacrifice. The "chosen one" who is fated to dance herself to death stands perfectly still in the middle of the stage while her female companions gather around her in circles. There is a rumbling of drums and in one breath, every woman falls flat on her chest, leaving the girl who will be sacrificed exposed. The fall is repeated five times. Each time we fall with more abandon. We become less aware of the ache in our elbows, the impact of the floor and the beads around our necks digging into our chests. With each fall we feel more connected to each other and to the lone woman in the center of the stage. When we make our way offstage, we huddle in the wings to watch our "chosen one" perform the final solo. We hold our breath through her shivers and backbends, and nearly 125 desperate jumps, until she falls to the ground, defeated.

We took this ballet on tour to 22 cities. I performed in the second act every single show. By the end I’m pretty sure both of my arms were sprained. But this moment in the ballet is, in my opinion, one of the most effective and beautiful of all the ballets. And I am so grateful to have been a part of it.

Photo curtesy of the Joffrey Ballet. Erica Edwards as the "Chosen One".

Photo curtesy of the Joffrey Ballet. Erica Edwards as the "Chosen One".