Review: No riot at the Sacramento Ballet's 'Rite of Spring' performance Special

Posted Oct 29, 2013 by W. Mark Dendy
Sacramento Ballet artistic directors, Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, pulled out all stops in last Thursday night's three ballet season opener with The Rite of Spring, the century old ballet choreographed to music by Igor Stravinsky, as the finale.
Dancers Lauryn Winterhaulder and Stefan Calka in Ron Cunningham s  Rite of Spring.
Dancers Lauryn Winterhaulder and Stefan Calka in Ron Cunningham's 'Rite of Spring.'
Sacramento Ballet/Alexander Cain Biber
A hundred years ago, The Rite of Spring premiered in at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The unexpected radical departure from the graceful dance and refined music that the elite Parisians were accustomed to, resulted in the civilized becoming quite uncivilized; fist fights broke out which quickly escalated to a riot.
The police were called in but were unable to control the crowd. Stravinsky made a quick departure before the performance of his controversial work was over.
But at the Sacramento Ballet season opener performance of The Rite of Spring, the only riotous behavior was on the stage – riotous in a good way. The principals and corps de ballet were in complete control of their movements led by Stefan Calka who took the role of the Shaman as they pulsed to the tribal-like rhythm.
As the show opened, Calka appeared as a silhouette perched on top of a mound – an altar. His head moved as if he had a tic or a twitch exaggerated by his feathered headdress. The “congregation” of the Shaman danced around the altar and their spiritual leader, seemingly subdued among the dark and primitive surroundings.
But then the Priestess, played by Lauryn Winterhalder, in her third season with the Sacramento Ballet, captivated the audience as she used both her beauty and her accomplished skills to draw the dancers and later the sacrifice into her lair.
Talented Oliver-Paul Adams, a dancer that seems to relish the challenges of interpretive dance, gave the show the fuel to make the proverbial fire burn hotter, the raw emotion developed through his moves coupled with Winterhalder's.
With the approval of the Shaman and the trickery of the Priestess, the tribal members, as they pounded their spears on the ground, were handed the sacrifice, Adams. The rite was fulfilled and the audience left satisfied as demonstrated with a standing ovation.
Last Thursday night's performance of The Rite of Spring, a ballet that abandons the classical movements for an abstract, almost chaotic routine, epitomized the versatility and talent of the Sacramento Ballet.
Once again, the Sacramento Ballet with artistic directors Cunningham and Binda demonstrated that they bring the best of ballet to the Sacramento community
The Rite of Spring was a five-star performance!