2019 House Programs Rite of Spring | Page 9

Yang is Bai, a member of one of China’s many ethnic minorities, rather than the dominant Han, and her work often incorporates Bai culture into modern dance. There is also a longstanding affinity between Bai and Tibetan culture, which lead to the Tibetan influence in this new Rite of Spring. She drew on Buddhist paintings, tales and ritual dances as she developed the choreography. “The dances are very distinctive,” she says, “and the hand signs all have their own particular definitions.” Tibetan music too bookends Stravinsky’s tumultuous score. Yang first made her name as a dancer— Chinese fans know her as the ‘Peacock Princess’ in reference to her celebrated work, Spirit of the Peacock. This was inspired by the traditional peacock folk dance she knew when young, and she includes her signature peacock dance moves into this Rite, tellingly as a symbol for rebirth. As in Under Siege (2017 Melbourne International Arts Festival), the spectacular design is by Tim Yip, the Oscar-winning designer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Akram Khan’s Giselle. The atmosphere of unease that pervaded Under Siege, his last collaboration with Yang, came in part through the 20,000 pairs of scissors suspended in the air, which slowly descended during the course of the production. His design