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Watch Scottish Ballet's incredible interpretations of Stravinsky

14 December 2017

In Scottish Ballet's autumn 2017 tour, The Rite of Spring and The Fairy's Kiss - both set to live scores by Stravinsky - made for a double-bill that pushed the company's dancers and musicians to their limits. Now, in partnership with The Space, both productions - filmed at The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh - are available in full via BBC iPlayer.

The Rite of Spring, left, and The Fairy's Kiss. All photos: Andy Ross

The Rite of Spring

Intense and visceral, Christopher Hampson’s The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps), created originally for Atlanta Ballet, is presented 100 years after the original production revolutionised the world of dance and music.

Set to Stravinsky’s exhilarating score, performed live by the full Scottish Ballet Orchestra, Hampson uses three dancers to reinvent the now infamous story of remorseless human sacrifice with brutal physicality and primal energy. This challenging work examines themes of violence, obedience and domination. It is in turns delicate, aggressive, rhythmic and dissonant, and uses a big orchestra to full effect.

Stravinsky wrote The Rite of Spring for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company. It caused sensation when first performed in 1913 as it was unlike anything ballet audiences had heard before. It is now considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century.

The Rite of Spring amassed five star reviews when performed at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2013 and again in September 2017 as part of a national tour.

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Synopsis

In a place sheltered from the outside world, two brothers (one older, one younger) are immersed in their own thoughts and strong beliefs. They perform their daily rituals. The brothers’ world is disrupted by the arrival of a woman, Faith.

In a place cut off from the outside world the younger brother is imprisoned and dominated by the intense beliefs of his older brother. The younger brother is presented with an escape in the form of a woman, Death.

Behind the scenes

The Fairy's Kiss

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale The Ice Maiden, The Fairy's Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) tells the story of a boy cursed with a kiss, destined for immortality.

The Fairy’s Kiss was originally created in 1960 and has had only one revival since. While its choreographer, Sir Kenneth MacMillan rarely created fairytale ballets, it was the richness and complexity of Stravinsky's score that lured him in.

Scottish Ballet brought new life to the production to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of MacMillan. The full Scottish Ballet Orchestra came together to lift this score off the pages.

It amassed five-star reviews during its recent national tour, and was the only revival production presented as part of the National MacMillan Celebration at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in October 2017.

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Synopsis

A mother with her child struggles through the storm. The Fairy with her attendants appears and pursues her. The Fairy separates the mother from her child. Passing villagers find the body of the mother, now dead, and guided by the Fairy, they find the child. The Fairy kisses him on the forehead. The villagers become frightened and taking the child with them, they run away.

The villagers gather for the fête. The child, now a young man, appears with his fiancée. A gypsy endeavours to tell the fortune of the young man and during the fortune telling the fiancée leaves with the villagers; left alone the young man discovers that the gypsy is the Fairy in disguise. She subjects him to her will, and promises him great happiness. Captivated, the young man is led to his fiancée.

Guided by the Fairy, the young man arrives at the mill, where he finds his fiancée playing games among her friends. The fairy disappears. They all dance. The Fairy appears again, and the young man is confused. The fiancée leaves with her friends and the young man is once more left alone. The Fairy reappears and the young man mistakes her for his fiancée. Suddenly the Fairy throws off her cloak and, dumbfounded, the young man realises his mistake. He is defenceless before the supernatural power of the Fairy. His resistance overcome, she holds him in her power. She kisses him.

The fiancée, lonely and sad, looks in vain for her lost love. The young man, now completely submissive to the power of the Fairy, is taken to the Land Beyond Time and Place; to live there eternally, marked by the kiss of the Fairy.

Behind the scenes

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