The original Rite of Spring ballet, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, was performed in Paris in 1913 by the Ballets Russes. This premiere was very controversial, as audiences reacted strongly to the ballet’s themes of pagan ritual and sacrifice and to the music – Igor Stravinsky’s avant garde, driving score. Douglas Martin’s Rite of Spring maintains the original ballet’s libretto, a celebratory ode to spring and a statement on the theme of ritualistic behavior and sacrifice, and sets it in a modern, 20th century office setting. Unlike the original ballet, Martin’s version is set in an advertising agency office in 1961. Complete with pencil skirts and avocado-colored chairs, Martin’s conception of this ballet is unique and thought-provoking. It is brought to life with rhythmical precision and powerful movement. “Having learned and performed that version dozens of times I feel that the ballet and the music is a part of me,” says Martin. He was a cast member of the Joffrey Ballet’s historic 1987 reconstruction of Nijinsky’s original 1913 version.
“Part sentimental tribute and part screwball comedy, Martin’s “Rite” avoids primivitst clichés and, in gender parity, it manages to find a concept still radical enough to make audiences squirm.”
– Robert Johnson, The Star-Ledger
“Mr. Martin’s choreography fills the stage … The steps, from the Office Girls typing in tandem with the Stravinsky score, to the preening Personal Secretaries and clownish Ad Men, to the diabolical Boss, are to this viewer an indescribable potpourri that work together because they fit both Mr. Martin’s concept and the Stravinsky score … a tribute to Mr. Martin’s choreographic ability.”
– Jerry Hochman, Critical Dance