‘Rite of Spring’ finally arrives at UB, Steve Sucato, Buffalo News

Postponed by Buffalo’s November storm of 2014, “The Rite of Spring” will finally take the stage at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts’ Mainstage Theatre on April 21.

A collaboration between the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Richmond Ballet, the concert was initially organized as a celebration for the 20th anniversary of the Center for the Arts. The performance will be the Richmond Ballet’s Western New York premiere.

The troupe, along with the BPO under the baton of music director JoAnn Falletta, will perform three ballets from its repertory including Salvatore Aiello’s critically acclaimed 1993 interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du printemps” (The Rite of Spring).

Falletta, who has also been the music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra the past 25 years, has worked with the Richmond ballet previously, including conducting performances of Aiello’s “The Rite of Spring” in 2013 that marked the ballet/score’s 100th anniversary.

“The passion, energy and superb acting of the dancers will create an experience that will be riveting to our audience – even overwhelming,” Falletta said. “As much as I had studied ‘The Rite of Spring,’ I feel like I discovered what the piece was truly about in seeing their production. People might be wondering why ‘The Rite of Spring’ was such a groundbreaking moment in music and dance history. When they see this production they will completely understand how it changed the course of music and dance forever.”

Staged by Richmond Ballet’s Jerri Kumery, a protégé of the late Aiello, the 36-minute ballet’s story is taken from the rituals and ceremonies of primitive societies. In it, to celebrate the advent of spring and to bring good fortune, a young maiden is chosen as a sacrificial offering and dances herself to death.

While the ballet has seen countless dance interpretations since its Paris premiere in 1913, Kumery said Aiello not only researched ancient tribes from around the world in fashioning his ballet, but interjected noble motivations for its lead character, “the chosen one.”

Dancing the lead role in Buffalo will be retiring Richmond Ballet star Lauren Fagone. Rather than being an unlucky, terrified victim of this primitive ritual, Fagone said the brilliance of Aiello’s version is that she chooses herself.

“She is this fierce being who challenges the very nature of these rituals hoping for future change,” Fagone said.

Joining “Rite” on the program will be choreographer Val Caniparoli’s “Stolen Moments” (2015) set to music by Jean-Philippe Rameau.

“I was intrigued and inspired by the contradiction of composer Jean-Philippe Rameau’s graceful and attractive music to that of his public image where he was reported to have a lack of social grace,” Caniparoli said of the ballet.

Rounding out the production will be Richmond Ballet artistic director Stoner Winslett’s “Ancient Airs and Dances” set to Italian and French lute songs orchestrated by Ottorino Respighi. The ballet, in honor of former New York City Ballet dancer Joseph Duell whose untimely death in 1986 deeply affected Winslett, is for four couples who journey from Renaissance-era formality to shedding their facades in order to reach “a freer, ascended kind of place,” Winslett said.


What: “The Rite of Spring,” performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Richmond Ballet

When: 7:30 p.m. April 21 (pre-performance talk at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, Amherst

Tickets: $67 and $47 general; $27 for students of any school; $127 VIP

Info: 645-2787, ubcfa.org