wrong of spring

Wednesday evening we went to the Kennedy Center to see the Washington Ballet present their world premiere of Trey McIntyre’s Rite of Spring, along with the Balanchine Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Christopher Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved, the latter set to music by Chopin and Kurt Weill.

We were in the first row of the balcony, to one side, with a pretty good view of the stage. The first ballet was the Balanchine piece, which seemed pretty uninspiring and left me unimpressed; I ended up zoning out during much of it. After the first intermission, though, the company returned to perform the Wheeldon selection, which was accompanied by live pianist and two sopranos, one for the Chopin segments and one for the Weill, who alternated from segment to segment. This was an intensely moving piece about love, especially failed or misgiven love–I was actually brought to tears a couple of times–that sent me into the second intermission feeling extraordinarily energized (and with a determination to explore Weill’s music in more depth).

It’s unfortunate, then, that the world premiere of McIntyre’s realization of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, while boldly provocative and with moments of great impact, as well as an intriguingly visualized setting in a (Venetian?) fancy-dress ball, overall came across as emotionless, confusing and not even particularly well-executed (with several falls and one missed entrance); moreover, the women’s costumes–most often a sort of bustle–were visually distracting and seemed to be ill-conceived, as the dancers seemed almost to fight with them, or to be uncomfortable with their displaced centers of gravity.

On the other hand, any opportunity to see as much well-toned male flesh as the openly gay McIntyre’s Rite offered can’t be considered entirely a waste of time.

Oddly, the pictures and description offered on the Washington Ballet’s web site to accompany the notice of McIntyre’s Rite are nothing at all like the piece he actually offered; I think I’d have preferred the painted “Neanderthal tribe” to the decadent Borgia-esque treatment he ended up with.