(French: "The rite of spring", from sacre, "rite, initiation, hallowing" and printemps, "spring")
Ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky (conducted, at the premiere, by the unflappable Pierre Monteux), choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, and scenography by Nicholas Roerich. Commissioned by Serge Diaghilev.
Le Sacre du printemps premiered in Paris in 1913 at Les Ballets Russes (Diaghilev's ballet company). The ballet presents a primeval pagan myth, in which a maiden is sacrificed to a god, in order to ensure the coming of spring. The sacrificial victim is danced to death, quite literally.
Breaking with custom in both choreography and scenography, the ballet became an instant scandal. The wild, often disharmonious motions of the dancers, and the syncopated, dissonant music were a deviation from the acceptable norms of the time.
The original choregraphic presentation of Le Sacre du printemps was soon pulled from the programme, but the seminal avant-garde score has formed the basis of numerous later choreographic interpretations, by such luminaries as Léonide Massine (1930), Maurice Béjart (1959) and Martha Graham (1984).