Le Sacre du Printemps

Things are in flux.

Wikipedia defines a ‘state of flux’ as such:

state of flux – a state of uncertainty about what should be done (usually following some important event) preceding the establishment of a new direction of action; “the flux following the death of the emperor”

2012 so far has been a year of constant change-Election Year drama, continuing recession, end of the Mayan calendar and even a sold-out Burning Man.  Nothing seems safe or sacred or sure anymore.

And, it’s easy to freak out. To blame institutions, to direct anger, to doubt systems.

I’ve been bogged down in the mire of this but, then, got a sweet invitation to travel to Denver for a party.  Not just any party but Le Sacre du Printemps.  

99 years ago, in Paris, Igor Stravinsky wrote a ballet choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky called ‘The Rite of Spring” and it caused quite a stir when it hit the stage in 1913.

And, as I read up on the ballet, I realized 1913 Paris was not unlike 2012 San Francisco.

For Paris it was the Golden Age-a belle époque.  Paris was considered the ‘sin capital of Europe’ with cabarets like the Moulin Rouge and brothels lining the streets.  Impressionist art was booming.

And, much like our beloved San Francisco, the rest of the world judged.

Like San Francisco today, Paris was going through political, cultural, societal change.

1910 also brought a great flood and hosted Theodore Roosevelt (pre WWI) who spoke at the Sorbonne and said  things that are relevant especially now-

“The good citizen will demand liberty for himself, and as a matter of pride he will see to it that others receive liberty which he thus claims as his own. Probably the best test of true love of liberty in any country in the way in which minorities are treated in that country. Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his life as he desires, provided only that in so he does not wrong his neighbor.’

I can’t but help to notice the similarity.

But onto the ballet-

Le Sacre du Printemps caused a huge stir. The account of the opening nite is such:

‘The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd. At the start, some members of the audience began to boo loudly. There were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance.’

The ballet featured pagan dances and a ritual where a young girl is offered as a sacrifice to the God of Spring and features Ostara-the Germanic goddess connected with prosperity and growth.  She was a hedonistic figure that became extinct with the rise of Christianity.

So, this ballet with it’s reference to pagan rituals and featured half naked women dancing provocatively scared the shit out of the audience.  The idea of such primal freedom (especially among women) freaked everyone out.  Sound familiar?

I, for one, am eager to celebrate this Rite of Spring where  I can dance wildly and celebrate the liberty to live life as I desire.

It all starts with one night and who knows what will come next?

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