Spring and Fall & Le Sacré

Cape Town City Ballet artist Sarah-Lee Chapman performs in La Sacre - a double-bill production - in the Guy Butler Theatre in Grahamstown on 2 July 2015, at the National Arts Festival. 102 years after the original Ballets Russes production of Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), choreographer John Neumeier offers a metaphoric vision of mankind’s wilful predisposition for aggression and self-destruction. (Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe).


Seen on July 2, 2015 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

Dvorak’s music Serenade for Strings in E Major, Opus 22 seems to be imagined in the land where rivers, mountains and valleys are abundant. Imagine the arrival of spring in this lustrous environment and one gets the picture of the magnificent budding and blossoming that transforms the whole landscape.

Under the well balanced choreography of John Neumeier this contraction and opening up is beautifully performed by the Cape Town City Ballet with a peculiar excellent performance by Laura Rosenberg and Thomas Thorne. Thorne shone out as a strong masculine dancer, able to perform beautifully in association with Rosenberg.

Ballet should bring together human strength, performance, mastering of technique and musicality. All of which were masterfully evident in Spring and Fall. Graciously, budding and filled with the wonders of something new emerging leaving the audience bedazzled at the interval.

The stormy and shocking potency of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps sets in without warning. The amount of dancers, male and female, has tripled. This barefoot rendition of the original is brought in a dizzying whirlwind of dance with an even bigger tour de force required from the dancers, demanding the utmost of their barely naked bodies. Where the emerging of life took the audience to heart, now we get the complete contrast except for the high quality of the dance performance: the music is less accessible, the dance is harder to understand, the mass self destruction is totally discomforting. Where is the beauty that we first witnessed? This unstoppable road to perdition and annihilation is too much.

The seasoned ballet critic that was sitting next to me was sure to write a raving review mentioning it as one of the best performances she has seen in a long time from a South African company.

I would agree with her when it comes to technique, strength and performance, but wondered whether I really needed a revolting self destructive upheaval en masse.