2019 House Programs Rite of Spring | Page 8

If that concert version was a landmark occasion, remarkably few Chinese choreographers have since created stage versions of The Rite of Spring. These include Xing Liang for the Guangdong Modern Dance Company in 1997 and Li Hangzhong and Ma Bo for the Beijing Modern Dance Company in 2001. In addition, the Chinese choreographer Zhang Xiaoxiong made a work in Tapei in 2008, influenced by his early years in Cambodia and the Cultural Revolution, while Shen Wei’s severe, painterly version premiered in 2003. Each version of The Rite imagines a different community and culture from which the story might spring. “My interpretation is from the Buddhist way of thought,” Yang says. She is especially interested in the way in which sacrifice is bound to the idea of reincarnation. “In the legends, many Buddhist gods sacrifice themselves to become human,” she tells me. “Many humans endure tests to reach another level. It’s about reincarnation, the recycling of life.” Her heroine is not the community’s scapegoat, but its potential saviour—willingly embracing an act of self-sacrifice for the good of her community. She chooses her own destiny—which, rather than quashing her spirit, will release it to the next stage of reincarnation. Rather than a march into darkness, this Rite is cyclical.