Company of Ballet presents ‘La Valse’ and ‘The Sacrament of Spring’

The choreographies ‘La Valse’, by Paulo Ribeiro, and ‘La Sagração da Primavera’, according to Vaslav Nijinski, will be presented by Companhia Nacional de Bailado (CNB) at the Camões Theater in Lisbon, starting today.

The shows – one of them in short films – will be presented until November 17, according to the company’s schedule.

“La Valse” is a short film by João Botelho, in which the CNB dancers perform a choreography by Paulo Ribeiro, to the sound of Maurice Ravel’s music, which was premiered in 2012 by the company.

This creation, which is now restored, is the result of a co-production of Films Air with the CNB, interpreted to the sound of a song that Maurice Ravel, circa 1906, wanted to compose for orchestra in a tribute to Waltz and Johann Strauss II.

He intended it to be a romantic work, which he called “La Valse, un poème chorégraphique,” and wrote about it as “a kind of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz,” which was mingled in the composer’s head “with the idea of a fantastic whirlwind of destiny”.

It turns out, however, that Ravel eventually enlisted in the army and interrupted his musical creation, and it was not until 1919, after the end of World War I, that he took up the idea, in response to an order from Sergei Diaghilev, for the Ballets Russes.

Ravel completely reworked the initial conception, influenced by the experience of war, romanticism lost its dominance, and the rhythm of the waltz often drifted into chaos, a metaphor for Europe at the time.

The debut came in December 1920 without Diaghilev having used it as “not as a ballet but as a portrait of a ballet”, but choreographer George Balanchine would choreograph the composition, about thirty years later.

In 2012, the CNB challenged a choreographer and filmmaker to explore the composition of Ravel and to envision a cinematic look at the movement of bodies.

In his turn, “The Sagration of Spring”, also in this program, has choreography according to Vaslav Nijinski, with choreographic reconstruction and staging of Millicent Hodson, music by Igor Stravinski, and argument by Igor Stravinski and Nicolas Roerich, scenography and costumes according to Nicolas Roerich.

The premiere of “The Sacrament of Spring” on May 29, 1913, caused a great scandal, reminding this work to oblivion, at the same time that it would become a landmark in the history of dance, for its vanguardism.

In 1987, after years of research, Millicent Hodson and Keneth Archer, the Jofrey Ballet debuted the reconstruction of this work that was practically lost and, in 1994, it became part of the CNB repertoire.

The absolute premiere of “The Sacrament of Spring” was in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on May 29, 1913, and the CNB’s debut in Lisbon at the Belém Cultural Center was on June 22, 1994.

For the production of “A Sagração da Primavera”, the CNB counted on Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer in the work of reassembling the piece, the two responsible for the recovery of the work that involved almost a decade of research.

Since October 2018 in Lisbon, both have been developing a process of transmission and reassembly of the ballet with the CNB cast, according to the company.

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