Ballet West Celebrates “The Rite of Spring” Centennial Season with World Premiere

BW presents a trio of works by world-renowned choreographers

 SALT LAKE CITY– March 15, 2014 –Ballet West commemorates the 100th anniversary season of Igor Stravinksy’s The Rite of Spring with a not-to-be-missed world premiere April 11-19 at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre. Set to the iconic score with brand new choreography by Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte, this triple-bill program will also include Jiří Kylián’s mesmerizing Forgotten Land to Benjamin Britten’s “Sinfonia da Requiem” and George Balanchine’s elegant Divertimento No. 15 to the music of Mozart.

 “I have had a long and close relationship with The Rite of Spring.” says Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute, who performed in the groundbreaking 1987 Joffrey Ballet reconstruction of the “lost” 1913 original. “I knew I wanted to commemorate the ballet’s centennial with a new version, and who better than our visionary resident choreographer – Nicolo Fonte?” Sklute adds, “I chose to open the evening with the Ballet West premiere of Kylián’s breathtaking and intensely dramatic work and revive Balanchine’s lovely and pure classic to balance the entire program.”

 The Rite of Spring

In 1913 Stravinsky’s complicated and almost overwhelmingly powerful score was combined with raw and primitive choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky creating a premiere that shocked the elegant Paris audiences of the time. The avant-garde style and choice of topic (a pagan sacrificial ritual) caused a notorious scandal, evoking more controversy and wielding more influence than almost any other piece of music or dance in history. 

Ballet West resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte’s take on the Stravinsky masterpiece in a decidedly different manner. “ Nicolo’s “Rite” maintains the power and drama of the original but brings out the themes of community, ritual sacrifice, and birth and re-birth in subtle and abstract ways. He has a fascinating way of getting to the heart of a piece of music without slavishly adhering to a libretto.” It was after the company performed Fonte’s Bolero that Sklute asked him to choreograph The Rite of Spring. “Nicolo has a gift for taking a well-known piece of music and illuminating it in new and unique ways,” says Sklute.

 Divertimento No. 15

Balanchine considered Mozart’s Divertimento No.15 in B flat one of the finest pieces of music ever written. As always, the choreographer’s sensitivity to music is unparalleled, creating delicate variations of unassuming elegance. The ballet was choreographed in 1956 and is structurally quite unusual as it showcases five principal women and three men, with an ensemble of eight women. “Divertimento #15 is pure bliss,” says Sklute, “ it is like a cool, lovely, perfumed, breeze for the soul. But don’t be mistaken, the soft elegance of this ballet masks a fiendishly difficult work that challenges the dancers to the greatest degree.”

 Forgotten Land

Jiří Kylián, is widely looked on as one of the world’s greatest living choreographers and the Ballet West presentations of his works Sinfonietta and Petite Mort have become favorites with Utah audiences. Forgotten Land, which has never before been performed in Utah, is set to Benjamin Britten’s “Sinfonia da Requiem.” Threading a theme of war and peace, Kylián attributes many sources for his inspiration. His visit to the composer’s disappearing coastline birthplace made a deep impression as well as Edvard Munch’s paintings depicting three women in various stages of life. Forgotten Land, then, muses on the ways in which nature constantly takes on other forms just as human relationships do. “Forgotten Land is intensely moving.” Sklute says, “Kylián combines a brilliant mix of athletic movement and dramatic pathos to transport the audience from an uneasy sense of discord to a peaceful resolution.” “Personally I find this ballet one of the most moving pieces of dance of the late 20th Century.”

 The performances of Forgotten Land, Divertimento No. 15 and The Rite of Spring, will be accompanied by the Utah Chamber Orchestra . Single tickets range from $24 to $74 and are available through ArtTix at or by calling (801) 355-ARTS.   Discounts are also available for groups of 15 or more by calling Ballet West at (801) 869-6900.