Internationally-acclaimed, Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre is set to return to Keswick on 8 May, as part of their annual spring tour, to present an exciting double bill: The Rite of Spring, choreographed by Haitian-born award-winning choreographer, Jeanguy Saintus, and Left Unseen, a new piece by seasoned choreographer, Amaury Lebrun.
Marking his UK choreographic debut, Saintus’ reworking of The Rite of Spring will subvert the original narrative of Nijinsky’s iconic work challenging the notion of a female sacrifice – instead introducing characters from Haitian folklore, which come to life telling their story of ritual, ceremony and celebration in a fresh imagining of the 1913 ballet.
He said, “Following the shocking and rousing premiere of The Rite of Spring for Parisian audiences when it was first staged, a great number of choreographers have tried their skills on the dance and story which centres on ritual drama. I have reconsidered the original sacrifice concept and instead explored the concept of offerings that are regularly seen in Caribbean culture. The promise in Haitian tradition is the offering one makes during the initiation into the vodou religion – we see this in the first section of the piece and the theme of Haitian rituals continues throughout.”
Performed by Phoenix Dance Theatre’s eight company dancers, The Rite of Spring is set in two movements and follows three central figures from Haitian folklore; Ogou a spirit that rules over fire, iron, war and blacksmiths, the Marasa, the divine twins, and Damballa, the serpent spirit and creator of life. By presenting these narratives, Saintus’ work will draw on 21st century global issues and challenge the sexist proposition of a female sacrifice.
The Rite of Spring also sees the return of ex-company dancer Yann Seabra who takes on the different guise of costume designer for the reworking. Since leaving Phoenix, Yann trained in Theatre Design at the acclaimed Motley Theatre Design in London and has gone on to design for leading directors in dance, opera, film and TV. His design credits include The Wind for The Royal Ballet, Salome for the San Francisco Ballet, Arthur Pita’s Cristeux for Ballet Black and many more.
Seabra commented, “Working with Phoenix Dance Theatre as a dancer and rehearsal director from 2002-2006 and being part of the rebirth of the company at that time, I was lucky enough to work with some talented choreographers and made some long-lasting friendships. Phoenix Dance Theatre also gave me the opportunity to engage in my new adventures to become a designer and stimulated me to move onto my new career. Now, I am absolutely thrilled to return as a designer, working again with Artistic Director, Sharon Watson, whose commitment continues to drive and grow the company.”
In a series of debuts, Left Unseen sees Lebrun set work on Phoenix Dance Theatre for the first time. The piece draws on the different relationships that can be created between the body and the space when our senses are taken away from us. The work promises to be an emotionally evocative and unpredictable journey.
Sharon Watson, Artistic Director at Phoenix Dance Theatre said, “I am delighted with this whole double bill; Jeanguy Saintus is a remarkable choreographer and to offer him his UK choreographic debut is quite the coup! I am equally as excited to see the Company perform Amaury’s work; we have been in dialogue with him for some time now and to see him put his choreographic hat on for the Company is incredible.”
Tickets are £18, £15, £10; Students, U16s, Schools £10. To find out more or book tickets for the 7.30pm performance, visit www.theatrebythelake.com or call the Box Office on 017687 74411.