The Rite of Spring has been seen in countless versions since its explosive début onto the world stage almost 100 years ago. But the version Austrian director and choreographer Klaus Obermaier at the Royal Festival Hall in London is certainly one of the most extravagantly ‘modern’. For a start, this presentation requires the audience to wear 3D glasses. The piece is called Rites.
Debra Craine in The Times writes:
Obermaier is a pioneer in the field and Rites, which returned to London as part of the Ether Festival, is his calling card.
If you are a ballet goer, it takes a few moments to adjust to the skewed picture on stage. Here, centre stage, are the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; hanging above is a giant screen and to the right, isolated in her own performing box, is the dancer Julia Mach and a row of stereo cameras that will film her every move.
Throughout the next 35 minutes she is the one person you probably won’t be watching. Instead, your eyes are fixed on the 3-D ballet unfolding on the big screen, where Mach’s avatar dances before you. The landscape of her virtual space constantly changes, from a swirl of squiggles and loops to a dizzying matrix that gives the impression that her avatar is surfing inside a computer. Some of the images created by the sophisticated software suggest a wash of blood — this is a sacrifice after all — and others are so distorted that Mach’s body is no longer recognisable and becomes something quite disturbing. It’s also eerie when her avatar reaches out, her hands inches from our eyes.
And her last word to sum up the evening and the article: “brilliant”.