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