Rite of Spring

As part of the Tmuna Theater’s Intimadance Festival, I created my own version of the mythological opus The Rite of Spring. Ever since the first performance of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, choreographed by legendary Vaslav Nijinsky, hordes of choreographers have interpreted this cornerstone of the dance world.

From the start I saw this project as ambitious and narcissistic. The Rite of Spring carries heavy historical baggage (significance?). Since the original version was revealed, there have been tens of interpretations made making The Rite of Spring a canonical myth in dance and art history.

My version of The Rite of Spring celebrates the victim’s conflict between the mind and the heart, animalism and refinement, loyalty and treason.

I began the creative journey with two decisions: one that I would uncompromisingly commit to Stravinsky’s partiture, adhere to the rhythm and respect the melody. The second was to make it a solo. Today, unlike in the past when the individual was sacred, once communal experiences have become personal and sacrifice is a singular endeavor rather than a group act.

In the original story, a victim is chosen. Without exception, it is a woman from the tribe who is a virgin. This is then, in effect, a story about fate. My Rite is not a story about fate rather one about free will.

In Israel, for example, citizens are required to obey the laws of the land and beyond this, in order to practice self-sacrifice, they must volunteer out of free will. As opposed to Stravinsky and Nijinsky’s ritual, the act of sacrifice today is altruistic. It is done at one’s own expense and for the other, from choice. In this world, the act of sacrifice is at once one of exhibition, pride and ambition to be deemed a hero. Altruism isn’t practiced in secret rather displayed.

Israelis are no different from other nationalities in their love for their homeland and willingness to sacrifice themselves for it. At the same time as Israelis sacrifice themselves as volunteer soldiers (not just enlisted) in elite units, the sons of another nation sacrifice themselves as Jihadists who commit suicide to better the future of their people.

My creation is influenced by overused and cliché objects and images that portray power, globalization and primal urges. It is also influenced by references from other choreographers’ versions of The Rite of Spring. As such, I see my version as a type of “Pantheon of ghosts” of the history of The Rite of Spring, in which I move between different styles and quote choreographers such as Pina Bausch, Maurice Bejart and of course Nijinsky himself.

The spring, as part of the natural cycle, is a time of renewal, courting, conquering and mating. Temptation, aggression and urges enter the stage through my creation in the form of a seductive belly dancer and a prostitute selling body parts and plots of land in a public auction. The characters in my Rite of Spring are exponentially tragic as each one of them is afforded the opportunity to be both the killer and the victim.


premiere: Intimadance Festival, Tmuna Theater, Tel Aviv, 2011
choreographed and performed by: Hillel Kogan
Music: Igor Stravinsky
Costumes and props: Evelyn Terdiman
Artistic Advisors: Nava Zuckerman, Irad Mazliah, Inbal Yaacobi


End of Summer Rite of Spring (Ayelet Dekel)

Arabs & Jews: Anxiety, Hypocrisy and Love (Ayelet Dekel)

פולחן האביב הלל קוגן- 28 אוגוסט 2013 בסוזן דלל