Sunday, March 12, 2006

When dance had impact

This weekend the BBC aired its documentary on the audience riots sparked by the premiere of the Nijinsky/Stravinsky/et al Rite of Spring. As this report notes:
After all, nothing in the arts shocks us anymore. Still, when did you last see an audience so passionately divided that they started to fight each other?
The question seems relevant in light of other recent dance tempests. Might examining the chosen medium of an Ohad Naharin or Sally-Anne Friedland provide a more direct and possibly savage commentary than political haranguing or simply ignoring? Would Joan Acocella and Tere O'Connor come to blows if seated next to each other at a premiere? Would European works rile a New York audience, or vice versa?

Choreographers, is this the stuff dreams are made of, to have that kind of effect? Does anyone set out to shock the audience (and I'm not sure that was Nijinsky's intention, though it might have been Diaghilev's), and if so, could that even work?

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