To begin, out of nowhere, across the back wall, the dancers and actors appear, and it’s the music that makes them move. However, we do not hear Stravinsky’s first whispery chords, instead it’s the more complex second section, and it is loud. They move fast. Held at the elbow, hands are planted on jaws, while bent knees flap in and out. Switch. A tape recorder softly plays more of the score. Switch. A single voice hums chords far off stage. Switch. A piano crosses the stage and the first chords are played. Switch. An actress details the history of Stravinsky, the music, and directs the cast in a voice lesson seated on stools, she asks, “What is it about that particular night?” Someone responds, “People said that event one hundred years ago was all bad; they blamed it on the dancers.”
On this night, there was no riot; instead there was inquiry. A Rite considers the idea of conflict. They mention “occupy Wall Street,” for example, and there was the lone soldier who questioned the memory of battle while his arms, as a machine gun, fires off—rat, tat, tat, tat, tat. They move fast again. Go. In clumps, they rush the stage. One body spills out, they catch it—freeze. Go again. They harmonize the first chords again. Go again. Switch. True to form, Jones and the collaborators include a memorable section of Stravinsky by way of big band jazz and blended with dances of the time—minstrelsy —indeed!
To end, three openings – tall boxes for entrance and exits appear. Some themes return, some are new (Black power fist raised high, arms as machine guns, the soldier dances with the girl in red; the chosen one), then—rat, tat, tat, tat, tat…bodies fall, and the soldier walk among the bodies. When they eventually rise they hum the chords, leave the space, and alone, the soldier runs back and forth along back wall between strips of hanging material. When A Rite ends, we appreciate the confluence of ideas realized by each artist.
See my interview with the collaborators here- http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2013/sep/26/riteinspired-music/.