I’m taking dance appreciation and this week we have been asked to watch videos of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring along with some other examples of early 20th century Russian ballets. The theme of this Stravinsky work is some sort of pagan “Mother Earth” ritual that ends with someone dancing to the death as a sacrifice to “her.” My question is, by watching this am I opening myself up to the influence of evil spirits? Obviously it’s not based on an actual ritual since pagans didn’t write anything about their ceremonies. (A few years ago I actually had to listen to the score for music appreciation, but at the time I didn’t know about the potential danger of this kind of stuff.) We are not technically graded on whether or not we watch the videos, and none of the questions we have to answer in this week’s assignment are directly based on this particular work. (I don’t know if there will be questions about it on the tests. So should I watch this?
Merely watching a ballet is not going to open you up to demonic forces. If anything the dance should tell us that dancing to death for “Mother Nature” is a product of someone’s fervid imagination on the same level as imagining a man is able to fly merely because he’s an alien (Superman). How you react to it–with awed acceptance of the concept or that of analysing a dance style/technigue is all you need be concerned with. That you have the good sense to know that the concept is a mere work of imagination shows that you are too reasonable to take it as anything else.
Of course you should watch them. It’s a ballet, not an occult ritual.
One very cool version I have always liked is from Disney’s Fantasia (1940).
Which also has a beautiful “Ave Maria” segment.
When I was a kid I never watched it because I was too scared of “Night on Bald Mountain,” so the tape got shut off. Now I have our old tape, but it’s so corrupted that part is ruined.
But my son LOVES the “Rite of Spring.” (“Can I watch Fantasia with the dinosaurs???”)
That segment might be one of the best animated sequences I’ve ever watched. Such a perfect contrast to the chaos right before it.
I read somewhere that originally it was supposed to have even more explicit religious imagery, with a stained glass window of the Blessed Virgin, but Disney chickened out because he thought that would be too much Catholic for the audience. That would have been awesome though.
Was Walt Disney Catholic?
No. The available information indicates he was a Congregationalist.
Don’t worry - The Rite of Spring is a great ballet and it should not make you more vulnerable to evil spirits. It is just music and dance, both worth appreciation to my way of thinking (and I am a big fan of 20th century music; I often listen to The Rite for enjoyment). On a side note, check out the original choreography by Nijinsky, it is the most succesful I believe. Unless you admire and agree with the pagan concepts presented in the ballet, you should be fine. Also remember that Stravinsky was Orthodox Christian and he never renounced his work as demonic or dangerous in any way. You may like to listen to his Mass - it is a beautiful piece, not really similar to The Rite.
God bless, V.