Performing Arts: Dance
  EYE ON DANCE Unearths
April 17, 2018
Through a tridimensional time voyage, The National Arts Club presented EYE ON DANCE's remembrance of the Joffrey’s revival of Nijinsky´s version of The Rite of SpringLe sacre du printemps). Mr. Robert Joffrey’s investment in dance history and fascination by the enriching artistic collaborations in the Ballets Russes led him to several revivals: Le Tricorne (1969); Petrushka, Parade, Le Spectre de la Rose, and L’Après-midi d’un Faune (1979); and Le Sacre du Printemps (1987).

Unearthing of The Rite of Spring opened with an introduction by Celia Ipiotis describing EYE ON DANCE, a dance education series aired weekly on PBS television. Creator, producer, host Ipiotis plus co-founder Jeff Bush were recognized for the legacy of 23 years the EOD program aired (1981 to 2004) with a designation of "an Irreplaceable National Dance Treasure." They accumulated a robust archive of 24,000 analog videotapes, miles of print material, publications, recordings, and publications essential to the EOD series' preparation and research. A major fundraising initiative is underway to save the EOD archive.

The evening's agenda included a series of interviews, live and on film, bridging over a century of references highlighting the historical, social, cultural and political framework of Le sacre du printemps. Ipiotis showed the video of the 1987 EYE ON DANCE program (produced by the nonprofit organization ARC) where she interviewed Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, dance and art historians respectively, about their epic revival of Le sacre for Mr. Robert Joffrey's company.

Hodson described the feat involved in this quest guided in large part by the rhythmic complexities of the score and the inimical nature of the movement vocabulary. Both historians alluded to the eight years of archeological restoration it took to recreate Nijinsky’s choreography. This quest gains further value when taking into account the mere eight performances of the ballet. After its Parisian première, on May 29th, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Le sacre was taken out of the Ballets Russes' repertoire and, subsequently, forgotten.

Because Nijinsky’s Stepanov notation was lost, the reconstruction process included an analysis of Igor Stravinsky’s score and Nicholas Roerich’s designs, complemented by interviews of Dame Marie Rambert. Appointed by Diaghilev to assist Nijinsky in the staging process utilizing Dalcroze’s Eurhythmics method, Rambert was instrumental to the process. The last part of the televised program featured a segment of Rambert’s interview, performance and concluded with a glimpse of the Joffrey’s 1987 dress rehearsal at the New York City Center shot by the EOD crew.

Following the EOD Le sacre episode, there was a lively exchange between panel moderator Ipiotis and two former Joffrey dancers, Nicole Duffy Robertson and Denis Jackson Sutherland, discussing their experiences with the Joffrey Company and memories of Le sacre du printemps. EYE ON DANCE, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

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