The Rite of Spring & Left Unseen

02 April - 22 November 2019

The Rite of Spring & Left Unseen

Phoenix Dance Theatre present a culturally distinctive 21st century re-working of the iconic ballet, The Rite of Spring. For his first work created in the UK, Haitian-born contemporary and folklore choreographer Jeanguy Saintus re-envisions The Rite of Spring introducing Haiti folklore and vodou in his bold approach to the near riot-causing original by Vaslav Nijinsky.

Saintus’ reworking subverts expectations moving away from the original themes of pagan sacrifice and instead focuses on the rituals and ceremonies practiced in the Haitian vodou religion building towards a final climactic celebration.

Left Unseen explores inclusion and isolation and how we rely on our five senses to find our place and navigate the world. In isolation there is often stillness and silence and also unpredictable disturbance and chaos. The eight dancers embody these different states creating an aesthetically beautiful and emotive piece of dance.

The work is set to a mixture of tracks by Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto and Hildur Gudnadottir which compliment Lebrun’s choreography creating both a sense of drama and vulnerability.

Gallery

Press

“a gripping, at times beautiful spectacle”

— The Times

“utterly compelling”

— The Yorkshire Post

“Urgent and spiritually charged ”

— Backtrack

“Left Unseen is a beautiful, immersive stretch of the contemporary dance imagination”

— The Culture Vulture

Programme

The Rite of Spring

First premiered in February 2019

About The Rite of Spring:

Saintus’ reworking of The Rite of Spring subverts the original narrative of Nijinsky’s iconic work challenging the notion of a female sacrifice – instead we see characters from Haitian folklore come to life telling their story of ritual, ceremony and celebration.

Performed by Phoenix Dance Theatre’s eight Company Dancers, The Rite of Spring is set in two movements and follows three central figures from Haitian folklore; Ogou a spirit that rules over fire, iron, war and blacksmiths, the Marasa, the divine twins and Damballa the serpent spirit and creator of life. By presenting these narratives Saintus’ work challenges the western stereotypes and dark themes often associated with vodou and instead presents these rituals in a new celebratory light.

Saintus reconsiders the concept of sacrifice originally explored by Nijinsky and instead explores concepts of offerings that are regularly seen in Caribbean culture. The promise in Haitian tradition is the offering one makes during the initiation into the vodou religion and acts as the first section to Saintus’ reworking. From this initial promise the dancers collectively demonstrate the rituals practiced in Haitian philosophy and embody the characteristics of each spirit, not one dancer plays a character throughout, instead each performer articulates different movements informed by the characteristics of the three spirits. A focal point in The Rite of Spring is the central potomitan, a pillar or altar found in front of vodou temples. The dancers make their offerings to the potomitan in hope of evoking the Loa, spirits of Haitian vodou.

The work builds towards the final celebratory ceremony where the performers wait to be overcome by the female spirit Erzuli. Who will be chosen?

The Rite of Spring is being performed to a recording of Le Sacre Du Printemps performed by The Cleveland Orchestra.

The Rite of Spring is in association with Opera North.

Left Unseen

First premiered in April 2019

About Left Unseen:

Left Unseen explores inclusion and isolation and how we rely on our five senses to find our place and navigate the world. In isolation there is often stillness and silence and also unpredictable disturbance and chaos. The eight dancers embody these different states creating an aesthetically beautiful and emotive piece of dance.

The work is set to a mixture of tracks by Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto and Hildur Gudnadottir which compliment Lebrun’s choreography creating both a sense of drama and vulnerability.