The Exploration of the Rite of Spring Costumes

Last Updated: 20 Jun 2022
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Greenshields #1 The research for this paper was based off a question that came to, while re-visiting the history and celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of Vaslav Nijinsky’s creation of Le Sacre du Printemps, The Right of Spring that premiered in 1913. This question in mind has many dimensions when asked, to compare the relationship between the costumes of Nijinsky’s The Right of Spring and Pina Bausch interpretation of the score.

When researching both ballets in relationship to the costumes that were represented in each version it becomes unclear of the real reasons behind the choices that Nijinsky and Bausch made to develop the style, design and visual effect of the costumes; Questioning whether there was a specific initial inspiration for the designs or perhaps it was the style in the time period when both individual ballets premiered and was influenced by fashion and society.

Beginning to study where it all began in the early 1900’s with Nijinsky’s development of The Right of Spring the focus is on the involvement of individuals who took part in the creation and development process of the original costumes. This can be narrowed down to Nicholas Roerich as the designer, Igor Stravinsky who potentially provided inspiration for Roerich’s designs and finally Nijinsky himself.

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To look at and discover how Roerich was inspired and where the root of his designs developed from other than Nijinsky’s vision, if any, brings this piece of writing one step closer to clearly answering the question of not only where the costumes initiated from but also how they compare to later ballet costume creations. Speaking of other ballet costumes, there will be research done on Pina Bausch’s 1975 interpretation of The Right of Spring with regard to her costumes in comparison to Nijinsky’s

Greenshields #2 costumes. The hopes are to gain a strong visual and rational understanding of the development the styles have gone through and the reasons for the advancement in ballet costumes. Having the opportunity to explore such a uniquely creative woman like Bausch, who had such an impact on the dance and choreography world, will allow this paper to go beyond a simple comparison between the costumes themselves but will allow further exploration of questions concerning how and why they developed into what they did.

The suggestion of the time period potentially having an influence in the designs of Nijinsky’s and Roerich costumes also implies to Bausch’s costumes as well, which will coincide with the overall change that the performance ware came to since the early 1900’s to 1975. Exploring the relationship between Nijinsky’s in The Rite of Spring costumes in 1913, to Pina Bausch costumes in 1975 it is visually clear to pin point the different aspects each costume possesses.

The challenging part of this piece of writing is going to be discussing how multiple costume creations come about from the same score, how such opposite but equally meaningful costumes can represent a similar story line in different eras, and overall where the inspiration came from, if inspired from anything or anyone at all for the costume designs in both Nijinsky’s and Bausch’s versions of The Right of Spring. Nijinsky hired Nicholas Roerich to help with the creations and designs for his costumes due to his outstanding and miraculous art work and the international reputation he had developed for himself over the previous years.

They began their collaboration for The Right of Spring in the early 1900’s, a few years before the 1913 premier. Roerich was faced with a big commitment when he was asked to create and design the costumes that would make or break Nijinsky’s piece Greenshields #3 of artistic work. Roerich accepted this task and immediately began consulting with Stravinsky, Diaghilev and of course Nijinsky to create what would soon to be the most unappealing costumes during this time for the future world renowned ballet.

Other ballets being produced during the early 1900’s began to present their dancers in more modern day ballet attire; “Clothes began to be more simple, leotards were worn and eventually the tutu” (Wagner). Nijinsky’s vision and Roerich’s designs completely went against the modern ballet look with the use of unflattering over sized material that covered the dancers shape and alignment, some even referred to them looking like “potato sacks” or “taters” ("essortment Your Source for Knowledge " ).

One aspect of early 19th century ballet costumes that Nijinsky and Roerich grasped was the ability to use a variety of color and designs in the creation of the costumes, which they did very well. Roerich’s costumes were very unique in the way he used intricate patterns mixed with a variety of shapes and colors. H is designs were said to be inspired by Stravinsky’s brilliant and century marking score he developed specifically for Nijinsky’s ballet and backed up by The Princess Maria Tenisheva’s collection that also helped initiate Roerich’s work.

In the case of Roerich’s costume designs, the initial inspirations become evident yet we are still left with uncertainty as to why such foreign and unpleasant costumes came from such experienced, intelligent artists. In 1975, Pina Bausch the legendary dancer and choreographer had completed choreographing and premiering her own interpretation of Stravinsky’s score and Nijinsky’s story line to produce her own The Rite of Spring.

Bausch was known for her elaborate and far fetch setting and images one sees on stage and in fact her interpretation of the Rite of Spring involved Greenshields #4 the dancers performing with a layer of dirt over the stage making the movement and choreography more difficult to perform as the piece progresses (Mackrell). Comparing Bausch costumes that were designed by Rolf Borzik to Nijinsky and Roerich designs it is evident that Bausch incorporated some aspects of the original costumes but developed them into a more modern day look.

Bausch kept the lengthiness of the costumes but used a lighter material on the females and had the males dance shirtless to allow the dancer’s body and alignment to be visible. The material that Bausch had the females wear was so thin that as the dancers became more vigorous the material became damp with remnants of soil ground in. This making the costumes and choreography appeal more earthier and grounded in a natural way as opposed to Nijinsky`s, where he used thick, busy yet clean material with long braided head dresses to portray that earthy look.

Bausch also eliminated color for all the other performers’ costumes except the virgin, who wore red to signify the importance of the sacrifice. This was well thought out on her part for there was more focus on the virgin during the initial scene of the sacrifice and portrayed the characters in a modern day light with having the red dress be the focal point with shades of beige white and black subtly surrounding the red.

While researching Pina Bausch and the creation of her costumes it became clear as to why she made changes from Nijinsky`s original costumes while producing her own. She evidently made the costumes more appealing to modern day society; “Russian Ballet had a wide effect, a remarkable influence on fashion” (Spencer 149-162), which happened to correspond and enhance the look of the movement and choreography on the dancer’s body.

Unfortunately there lacked evidence on what or who inspired Bausch or Borzik to create these modern day costumes, Greenshields #5 which interfered in answering where the costume designs were inspired from but helped with the overall understanding of the relationship between Nijinsky`s and Bausch`s The Right of Spring costumes. This may be a realization for some that artists in a developing world are capable of adapting to the changes and progress in society.

Taking a moment to step back and look at both the costumes from an outside perspective it is noticeable that each design gives off a completely different vibe from one another by the use of unique fabric, colors, shapes and patterns. There has been an enormous evolution in the dance wear from the 1900’s until now, and both Nijinsky’s and Bausch’s versions of the ballet are just two examples of the development it experienced in the 1900’s alone. After this period, costumes and dance wear in general continued on this path of development and grew into an enormous selection and an endless variety of designs to base any genera of costumes off of.

One feature of costumes in general that continued through the decades of development is the ability to incorporate meaning and significance into the design of the outfit. Both ballets previously talked about in this essay present significance within their costumes through the shapes and intricate patterns inspired by Stravinsky that Roerich used on Nijinsky’s costumes and the use of a single solid color signifying the significance of the sacrificial virgin in Bausch’s interpretation. “Some of the figures thus formed came to have symbolical meanings” (Royce 192-212).

This is a tactic still used in the performing arts today to help the audience fully understand the directors vision and or to signify something of importance that may influence how one sees the performance. The research for this piece of writing has uncovered many discoveries’ regarding a costume comparison between Nijinsky’s and Pina Bausch’s versions of The Right of Spring. It Greenshields #6 has looked deeper into pin pointing inspirations that have influenced the design and creativity of the costumes, as well as etermining the significance that stage costumes portray. This essay also spends a great deal of time picking apart and examining the relationship between Nijinsky’s 1913 ballet with Bausch’s interpretation done in 1975. It looks at the development of The Right of Spring costume designs during 1913-1975 and discusses the continual development it had to today’s generation as it continues to expand. As a student of Social Work with dance as a minor, the research inquiries in this essay have aspects that will help me in both of my career options.

What triggers my attention the most is the idea of a constantly developing world that will influence any individual practicing their profession in today’s society. This information is most helpful to me in the dance stream, as any artist would know that it is extremely important to keep others and more importantly yourself in tune with modern day aspects of the dance world. Although not every performance or piece of artistic work needs to incorporate current day trends, it is crucial to learn about the developments that have happened or that are taking place to expand your knowledge and create the best work available to you.

Not only will this be useful to me throughout my dance life, it has also taught me to be aware of the developments and changes that are taking place day to day which will enhance my role as a critical social worker. Another important aspect of the research I uncovered that will be beneficial to me as a dance student is the overall background knowledge I gained on Vaslav Nijinsky, Nicolas Roerich and Pina Bausch.

Nijinsky and Bausch especially, as I could now comfortable educate others on their separate versions of The Right of Spring focusing on the history and creations of the Greenshields #7 costumes. Having focused on two very inspirational dancers and choreographers who impacted the dance world in one way or another it will help me in whatever career path I choose from the initial information gathered or whether it be from the messages behind the facts there will always be useful information to me as an individual who studied dance.

Bibliography 1. Right of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. " essortment Your Source for Knowledge . 2011: n. page. Print. <http://www. essortment. com/rite-spring-igor-stravinsky-61200. html>. 2. Kant, Marion. The Cambridge Companion to Ballet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 3. Kelly, Thomas. "Milestones of the Millennium. " Milestones of the Millennium. (1999): n. page. Print. http://www. npr. org/programs/specials/milestones/991110. motm. riteofspring. html>. 4. Kirstein, Lincoln. Four Centuries of Ballet: Fifty Masterworks.

New York: Dover Publications, 1984. 5. Mackrell, Judith. "The Guardian. " Guardian. (2008): n. page. Print. <http://www. guardian. co. uk/stage/2008/feb/14/dance1>. 6. Rerikh, Nikolai? Konstantinovich, and Cordier & Ekstrom. Nicholas Roerich: Decors and Costumes for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and Russian Operas. New York: Cordier ; Ekstrom, 1974. 7. Royce, Anya Peterson. The Anthropology of Dance. Canada : Fitzhenry ; Whiteside Limited, 1977. 192-212. Print. 8. Spencer, Charles. The World of Serge Diaghilev. England: Paul Elek, London, Limited , 1974. 49-162. Print. 9. Taruskin, Richard. Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions: A Biography of the Works Through Mavra. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. 10. Thomas, Michael. "A Riotous Premiere: Igor Stravinsky The Rite of Spring. " San Francisco symphony Keeping Score . N. p. , n. d. Web. http://www. keepingscore. org/sites/default/files/swf/stravinsky/full;. 11. Wagner, Christopher. "Historical Bo'ys Clothing. " Historical Bo'ys Clothing. (2002): n. page. Print. <http://histclo. com/act/dance/bal/cos/bc-hist. Abstract

This paper has focused on the relationship between both Vaslav Nijinsky and Pina Bausch’s costumes they created for their versions of The Right of Spring. Through the research constructed for this essay it has built a strong understanding of the development dance wear has progressed through using two ballet examples during the 1900’s. Although the research was not significant enough to fully answer the initial questions being asked, it built more of an in-depth knowledge on the inspirations behind some of Nijinsky’s design and the reasons for modern day changes to Pina Bausch’s

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