Dance of death and renewal by Pina Bausch at The Music Center


How would you dance, if you knew you were going to die? This is the central question the late choreographer Pina Bausch (1940-2009) asked of her dancers in 1975 when she created her seminal work The Rite of Spring. The work examines an unyielding ritual in which the sacrifice of a “chosen one” changes the season from winter to spring.

Faithful to Stravinsky’s visceral score, Bausch’s monumental choreography is given new life by a specially assembled company of more than 30 Black dancers from 13 countries. Dancing on a peat-covered stage, they clash and engage in a poetic struggle of life, ritual and sacrifice that pays tribute to Bausch’s genius.

In an article published in advance of last November’s high-impact showcase of the 37-minute Bausch work at New York’s Park Avenue Armory, dance critic Marina Harss called “Rite” a “grand, apocalyptic work.” Harss interviewed Germaine Acogny, the founder of the Senegalese École des Sables and a key player in contemporary African dance, who expressed her belief that a restaging of “Rite” danced by an all-African cast is “absolutely right.”

“I’ve always felt that this was an African dance. The rituals are the same. And that music has an extraordinary pagan, terrestrial power. I even wonder whether Stravinsky was possessed when he composed it.”

Germaine Acogny quoted in Marina Harss, “Pina Bausch’s ‘Rite of Spring’ Takes Root in Africa,” New York Times, Nov 25, 2023

Rite is paired with a new work, common ground[s], created, performed and inspired by the lives of two remarkable women who have each juggled roles as choreographers, professors and grandmothers: Acogny and Malou Airaudo, a former member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. Their tender choreographic response to Rite reflects their shared histories, emotional experiences and common ground.

The Rite of Spring/common grounds | Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center | Feb 8 – 11

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