Star choreographer Clug puts on show Stravinsky’s masterpieces

Maribor – Choreographer Edward Clug’s take on Igor Stravinsky’s ballets The Rite of Spring and The Wedding will be staged at the SNG Maribor opera and ballet house on Friday evening. Clug’s reinvention of the first ballet will return to the Slovenian stage after a decade.

The Romanian-born Slovenian dancer and choreographer, whose works have sold out the Bolshoi Theatre and London Coliseum, finds the two ballets pieces of a bygone age that nevertheless have an avant-garde character.

“The substance that attracts the protagonists of both plays, The Wedding and The Rite of Spring, is a kind of primal force that drives society by its mechanism into a kind of ritual – the ritual of wedding in the former and the ritual of sacrifice in the latter. In both cases, the ultimate step is inevitable but at the same time fatally attractive,” Clug, the artistic director of SNG Maribor Ballet, said ahead of the premiere.

In The Wedding or Les Noces, the musical tradition and choreography are rooted in traditional Russian culture, creating a stage framework for the dance narrative of a pre-arranged wedding. The role of the bride will be performed by Monja Obrul and Catarina de Meneses, while the character of the groom will be brought to life by Tamas Darai and Jan Trninič.

The Rite of Spring or Le Sacre du Printemps was a hit at its premiere under the European Capital of Culture programme in Maribor a decade ago, and now, after numerous tours around the world, it returns to the city.

Clug’s version remains faithful to the ballet’s musical structure and narrative, which is based on a legend from pre-Christian, pagan times. The legend tells of the ritual of sacrificing a virgin who must dance to death in homage to a spring deity in order to increase the fertility of the earth. The main roles will be performed by Evgenija Koshkina and Asami Nakashima.

The Rite of Spring is an iconic musical work of the 20th century, Clug noted. “It not only represents a turning point in the musical poetics of Stravinsky himself as a composer, but also a turning point in the history of the art of dance,” he said, adding that his take on the work was also an homage to the original choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, who is considered the most famous male ballet dancer of the early 20th century and influential choreographer.

Clug’s take on The Wedding is then a logical step forward in terms of exploring Stravinsky’s ballet. The first performance of the work was held ten years later than the first staging of The Rite of Spring, in 1923, but this time the ballet was choreographed by Nijinsky’s sister, Bronislava Nijinska.