Dance: Bringing Back a Debacle

The Joffrey reconstructs Diaghilev's scandalous Le Sacre

One of the great 20th century culture shocks -- right up there with the Armory Show and Elvis on Ed Sullivan -- took place in Paris on May 29, 1913, with the premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). When the audience heard Stravinsky's brutal music and saw Nijinsky's crudely powerful choreography, they rioted. Why dress up to hear such infernal noise? And why should the idolized dancer choreograph vulgar jumps with two-foot landings and hops with turned-in feet that looked as if they were bound? Diaghilev was the master impresario of exotica, but when he put on...