Adelaide Festival Review 2022: The Rite of Spring / common ground[s]

What: The Rite of Spring / common ground[s]

Who: Pina Bausch / Germaine Acogny & Malou Airaudo


Who: Pina Bausch / Ecole des Sables / Sadler’s Wells

Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre

When: 4 – 6 March 2022, more info here

Image courtesy of Adelaide Festival

The enduring work of Pina Bausch graces the stage of Her Majesty’s Theatre this Adelaide Festival season by becoming intertwined with through Stravinsky’s score, The Rite of Spring – a collaboration between Pina Bausch Foundation, École des Sables (lead by Germaine Acogny) and Sadler’s Wells. 

The companion piece to The Rite of Spring, common ground[s]  is a new work created and danced by Acogny herself in partnership with Malou Airaudo, a founding member and icon of Bausch’s company. common ground[s] brings together two dance matriarchs showcasing their lives as grandmothers, mothers, and daughters of the dance world.

The common ground[s]  sets a tender and initially sombre tone, the stage is gradually lightened by a glowing orange backdrop, two female forms emerge as silhouettes against a quiet and sparse stage. The connection between Acogny and Airaudo is evident in their subsequent movements throughout act one, their bodies moving in pace with one another, orbiting together as if invisibly tethered in every gesture and step they take.

Although the emptiness of the stage was visually quiet, however, it simultaneously amplifies the orchestra backing track, the striking use of stage lighting, as well as the dancers’ movements. It has been incredibly designed so that, in making something seemingly minimal and slow-paced, it screams of the expression and emotion in their story.

I’m grateful I sat in my seat throughout the intermission to witness a large crew rip up the flooring and replace the entire stage with mounds of earth for act two, which immediately was a contrasting companion to the former tenderness, emotion and sensitivity I witnessed in act one.

The Rite of Spring is a chaotic and visceral experience, throughout my senses were affronted by the smell of the earth being kick in the air by the dancers’ bare feet, along with the booming and pacing track of the orchestra, and the many bodies that filled the stage had my darting my eyes around trying to absorb all I could. Even noting the dancers’ costumes, their bodies scantily clad in floating silk dresses that were also being weighed down by their sweat evoked an unexpected sensory response.

The choreography was visually effective in creating formations for the group of dancers that utilised the space on stage, witnessing them momentarily shift between tight grouping in corners, then rapidly sprawling across the stage created a beautiful spectacle of rhythmic and synchronised harmony.

See it while you can!

5/5 stars

– By Rachel Wong

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