The Rite – NOWNESS

Celebrate the 106th anniversary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with a group of dancers with Down’s Syndrome who have captured the revolutionary spirit of the riot-inciting ballet.

Under the creative mentorship of The Royal Ballet, Culture Device—an innovative dance theater for artists with Down’s Syndrome—completed a residency at the Royal Opera House with a powerful reinterpretation of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. To mark 106 years since the ballet’s premiere, filmmaker Adam Csoka Keller captures Culture Device’s industry-defining production for NOWNESS.

“The Rite of Spring absolutely broke all the rules in composition and choreography, marking an important cultural moment in history,” says Keller. “It’s crucial to be at the forefront of the cultural moment, and this film shows how the art world is opening up to performers with learning disabilities.”

Modern audiences may consider this ballet one of Stravinsky’s greatest works, but its premiere caused the audience at the time to riot. The score defied common compositional structures and the choreography was described as primitive and jerky—movements that belied the usual ethereal, weightless quality of ballet.

In the spirit of the original 1913 performance, the film The Rite also breaks the rules by liberalizing dance and challenging audience perceptions about who is ‘allowed’ to perform. “There are many misconceptions about people with learning disabilities. When working on projects like this that have a special energy, your view on certain topics will never be the same again,” says Keller. “The truth is that we need to employ more of these incredibly talented performers, not only within arts and culture but other disciplines where they can make a positive change.”

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