The 2013 Society of Dance History Scholars Special Topics Conference, “Sacre Celebration: Revisiting, Reflecting, Revisioning” was held April 18-20, 2013, at York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Each presenter at the conference was invited to contribute to the Proceedings. Those who chose to contribute did so by submitting PDF files, which are assembled here. There was minimal editorial intervention — little more than the addition of page numbers and headers. Authors undertook to adhere to a standard format for fonts, margins, titles, figures or illustrations, order of sections, and so on, but there may be minor differences in format from one paper to another.

Presenters’ affiliations and biographical information are shown as they appeared in the conference program book, which was compiled in April, 2013, and is available as a PDF at the bottom of this page.

Individual authors hold the copyrights to their papers. The Society of Dance History Scholars is not legally responsible for any violation of copyright; authors are solely responsible.

Published by the Society of Dance History Scholars, 2013.

The entire proceedings is available as a single 36 MB PDF file, or individual papers are available by clicking the links below.

  PDF Page
Benitez, Vincent. Stravinsky and the End of Musical Time: Messiaen’s Analysis of The Rite and Its Impact on Twentieth-Century Music PDF
516 KB
Craig-Quijada, Balinda. Interdisciplinarity in the Liberal Arts: A model for creative collaborative teaching PDF
183 KB
de Gallaí, Breandán. Re-Visioning the Rite: An Exploration of the Expressive Possibilities of Irish Dance PDF
7.2 MB
Époque, Martine & Poulin, Denis.  CODA, the finale of NoBody dance: the Rite of Spring, a stereoscopic digital dance film based on MoCap and particles technologies PDF
1.6 MB
Francis, Kimberly. Nadia Boulanger’s Interpretation of The Rite of Spring: “A Work Apart” PDF
332 KB
Ing, Joannie. The Rite of Spring: Celebrating One of the Most Infamous Riots of the 20th-Century PDF
1.3 MB
Issiyeva, Adalyat. The Origin of Russian Primitivism? Alexander Grechaninov’s Arrangements of Asian Songs  PDF
997 KB
Järvinen, Hanna. The Russian Reception of Le Sacre du Printemps, 1913 PDF
468 KB
Lausic Arratia, Miriana. Violence and Light in the Rite of Spring of Marie Chouinard PDF
187 KB
McCurdy, Erin & Odom, Selma. Encountering Sacre through Role-play and Microhistory PDF
1.1 MB
Rubinoff, Daniel. Frank Martin’s La nique à Satan: The Dalcroze Connection PDF
1.2 MB
Williams, Cynthia. Searching the Darkness: Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness  PDF
496 KB

Sacre Celebration Conference Program – download PDF 3.8 MB



Stravinsky and the End of Musical Time: Messiaen’s Analysis of The Rite of Spring and its Impact on Twentieth-Century Music

Through The Rite of Spring, Stravinsky ushered in the end of musical time, as we know it. The work’s expan-sion and contraction of rhythmic cells, irregular ac-cents, rhythmic ostinatos, layering of rhythmic patterns, and asymmetrical groupings contributed to rhythm being an equal partner with harmony in the structuring of music. Struck by the originality of its rhythmic practices, Messiaen analyzed The Rite in 1930. This interest in The Rite was to have a profound impact on the history of music. Through his work as both a composer and teacher, Messiaen became an important disseminator of Stravinsky’s rhythmic ideas in the twentieth century. Messiaen’s analysis of The Rite of Spring was his most brilliant work as a teacher, as attested to by numerous former students. Volume II of the Treatise on Rhythm, Color, and Ornithology (1949–92) contains an outline of this detailed oral analysis. Although he often analyzed The Rite meas-ure-by-measure in class, in the Treatise on Rhythm Messiaen provided only the highlights of one inter-pretation. In this paper, I will examine Messiaen’s analysis of The Rite of Spring as laid out in the Treatise on Rhythm, outlining its contents before delving into the “Introduction” to Part I, the “Augurs of Spring,” and the “Sacrificial Dance.” To conclude my paper, I will consider the analysis’s influence, as well as Messiaen’s teaching in general, on Boulez and Stockhausen, two of his most illustrious pupils.

Vincent Benitez is Associate Professor of Music at the Pennsylvania State University where he teaches under-graduate and graduate courses in music theory and analysis. He is the author of Olivier Messiaen: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge). He has published articles on Messiaen in Music Analysis, Messiaen the Theologian (Ashgate), the Dutch Journal of Music Theory, the Journal of Musicological Research, the fourth volume of the Poz-nan Studies on Opera, Music Theory Online, and the College Music Symposium, as well as reviews of books devoted to Messiaen in Performance Practice Review, NOTES, and the Indiana Theory Review.  back



Interdisciplinarity in the Liberal Arts: a model for creative collaborative teaching

My presentation provides practical ideas on teaching collaboratively across disciplines. Collaborative teaching can take many forms. A guest lecturer might visit a colleague’s classroom to cover a single specialized topic, or a semester-long course might be co-taught by two or more faculty from different disciplines, etc. I will discuss my experience in creating such a class as a jumping-off point for discussion.

The course I co-taught with a member of the music faculty, The Union of Music and Dance, illustrates one model of interdisciplinary teaching. This class sought to integrate the study of music and dance by focusing on work that included historic collaborations between composers and choreographers, such as Igor Stravinsky & Vaslav Nijinsky in Sacre du printemps, among others. Many choreographers have challenged themselves to confront this seminal score, so we included other versions of Sacre, including those by Pina Bausch, Maurice Béjart and Angelin Preljocaj.

My colleague and I found that interdisciplinary teaching brings to light deeper, broader, and more thoughtful connections. Allowing our students to see professors in dialogue—teaching each other something about their respective fields—successfully modeled the creative collaborations we sought to bring to life. I hope to share what I learned with conference participants and to learn from them as well. I am convinced that co-teaching across department lines can broaden a student’s sense of the world, revealing how deeply inter-related most fields of study really are and thus contextualizing their learning in a more holistic and comprehensive way.

Balinda Craig-Quijada directs the dance program at Kenyon College where she teaches contemporary modern dance, dance history, ballet and choreography. She received an MFA from The Ohio State University and taught at OSU from 1998-2000.  She served on the Board of The American College Dance Festival for twelve years, most recently as director of the East-Central region. Craig-Quijada shared her research on Interdisciplinary Teaching at NDEO and is author of the children’s book Dance for Fun! back



Re-Visioning The Rite: An exploration of the expression possibilities of Irish dance

This paper addresses the creation of an Irish dance interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The work represents a major requirement of an Arts Practice PhD that the practitioner/researcher is undertaking. His company’s work (Ériu Dance Company) is a reaction to the commercial show and competition culture genres and draws on the more exploratory model of contemporary dance and physical theatre.  The choreographic process is multi-layered and includes but is not limited to the following tiers: the generation of novel movement approaches and vocabulary through a personal improvisational method which draws from the choreographer’s habitus; developing a company signature; authoring motifs as well as move exhaustive sequences; and transmission.

The transmission, workshop and performance stages provide rich insights, and it is in this area that the research flourishes. Nurturing a positive, collective engagement with the ensemble is key. Company work begins as the interior depths of the Irish dance performer are probed, questioning where the impulse of the movement is located and allowing for alternative channels to open, seeing how the expression breathes in other areas and in other ways. Deep emotional structures are encouraged to surface in evocative movement patterns. There is an emphasis on a more visceral, brutish aesthetic, harnessing the individual gestural signatures of the dancers and encouraging higher level emotions to surface. Themes which appear in the work include: mob mentality; alpha-; beta-; vulnerability; victimism; homoeroticism; and persecution. The opportunities and challenges presented by the making of Irish dance work that challenges the boundaries of the traditional aesthetic are discussed with reference to how the physicality of the dance manifests itself, the reaction of the dancers and its acceptance in the wider Irish/General dance community.

Breandán de Gallai is course co-ordinator of the PhD Arts Practice at the University of Limerick. As part of his PhD research he completed two major works – Noċtú, which was nominated for 2 Drama Desk awards in NY (“Outstanding Choreography” and “Unique Theatrical Event”), and The Rite of Spring, which premiered at the Fleadh Fringe in August 2012.  Breandán also holds a BSc in Physics and an MA in Ethnochoreology and was Principal Dancer of Riverdance for 7 years. back



A 3D digital dance film based on MoCap and particle technologies

Founders-directors of LARTech (2000) Denis Poulin and Martine Époque have been creating multimedia stage and screen productions that hybridize dance and technologies since the beginning of the seventies. Their artistic goal is to create choreographic expressions that expand the realm of dance to new territories and outlook. Since 2001, important grants allowed them to experiment motion capture. This research brought them to state their innovative concepts of “Nobody dance”, “particle dancers and “dancers’ kinetic signatures”. The combination of these three paradigms is the seed of their Nobody dance/The Rite of Spring 36 minutes long digital film. Based on the piano version of Igor Stravinsky’s music, dance itself is the subject of this film who metaphorically evokes perilous events caused and survived by Man and Earth in our modern era. As particles are the origin of the universe and life on Earth, and so the witnesses to the original parity between Man and his environment, this film is entirely made of particles whose use transcends and sublimates its intent. With its non-figurative interpreters, NoBody dance/The Rite of Spring introduces a dance that is innovative in its aesthetic signature as well as in the technologic tools it comes from, taking Stravinsky’s work into the 21st century. Team Époque-Poulin will explain the process they elaborate to create this unusual work and show some excerpts of it. Actually in production, this dance film will be premiered in Montreal on May 29, 2013 to commemorate the centennial of the creation of the Stravinsky/Nijinsky/Roërich masterpiece.

Époque- Poulin Tandem: Montmorencien émérite, multidisciplinary artist, Denis Poulin has created since the 70s’ works in photography, dance and cinema before devoting himself to the practice of digital medias and technochoreography. Professeure émérite de l’UQAM, Martine Époque is an emblematic figure of the Québec dance scene whose choreographic work and contribution to the development of the Quebec contemporary dance earned her the Prix du Québec Denise Pelletier 1994.

They direct the Laboratoire de recherche-création en technochorégraphie (LARTech) that they founded in December 1999. Their recent works make use of technologies of motion capture and fluids treatment as means of enhancing the danced movement instead of the dancer’s bodies. Their digital cinechoreography “NoBody dance: the prototype” belongs to the exhibition Beyond the image produced by Museum of Nature and Sciences of Sherbrooke City and their digital photograph Sequence No 7 de Grande fresque is part of the permanent collection of Le Cirque du Soleil. back



Nadia Boulanger’s Interpretation of The Rite of Spring: A Work Apart

Nadia Boulanger, one of the most authoritative advocates for Igor Stravinsky during his lifetime, was hesitant to emphasize The Rite of Spring as significant in the greater context of his career. As with many of Stravinsky’s works, Boulanger maintained a complex relationship with The Rite of Spring. Present for its premiere, it was she who helped Stravinsky reorchestrate the work’s “Danse Sacrale” movement in 1943, and in September 1969, when Stravinsky published The Rite’s sketchbooks, he sent Boulanger an advance, autographed copy as a birthday present. She spoke about The Rite during lecture tours and in her classes, but despite knowing it intimately, Boulanger felt uncertain about advocating for it as central to Stravinsky’s oeuvre. Boulanger’s earliest, unpublished analytical treatments of the work date from 1925 and 1934, and reveal her fascination with the piece’s slippery relationship with tonality. Moreover, Boulanger reveled in the piece’s rhythmic characteristics, not because they were novel, however, but because they expanded upon ancient Greek additive rhythmic processes. Indeed, for Boulanger The Rite was never a strong exemplar of Stravinsky’s forward trajectory, and as early as 1919 she felt it rather dated. One senses her subsequent reticence to freeze Stravinsky’s modernist identity as directly connected to The Rite at the risk of ignoring his other compositions. Ultimately, the evidence shows Boulanger thought The Rite held “a place apart from the rest of his works,” thus adding a new layer to the question of the controversial ballet’s reception by Stravinsky’s peers.

Kimberly Francis is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Guelph where her research is supported by a SSHRC research grant. She has won numerous awards, including most recently the American Musicological Society’s “Teaching Fund Award,” and has published in Musical Quarterly, Women and Music, the Revue de Musicologie, and Music Theory Online. Dr. Francis is currently completing a monograph on Nadia Boulanger and Igor Stravinsky as well as an edition of their correspondence. back



The Rite of Spring: Celebrating One of the Most Infamous Riots of the 20th Century

The premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris was a momentous evening for the avant-garde art movement. The event itself—a spectacular combination of Stravinsky’s irregular rhythms and unusual dissonances in the music, Nijinsky’s strange choreography (i.e. toes pointed inward for the ballet dancers), as well as Roerich’s loose, draping pagan costumes and colourful set designs—generated a notorious riot that reverberated through decades to come. Had the crowds prepared themselves to riot? What did public riots look like in the early twentieth century? What were some factors that may have ignited such public fury? What were some common audience expectations in the early twentieth–‐century when attending performances? What were prominent ways of expressing dissent and protest at such performances at the time? On the night of its premiere, the Rite of Spring followed a performance of Les Sylphides, a non-narrative ballet blanc (ballet in a romantic style featuring dancers in white tutus) with music by Frédéric Chopin: did the startling contrast between these two works heighten the unfulfilled expectations — and was it intentionally programmed to do so? By analyzing various newspaper articles and relevant sources, one can begin to piece together the mob mentality that fuelled the celebrated riot during one of the twentieth-century’s most infamous modernist works.

Joannie Ing is a second-year PhD candidate at York University with an interest in classical contemporary music. She graduated with a Master’s degree in music composition from York University. Her thesis, titled “Addicted to Beauty: Piano Music from Poetry,” consists of four original piano pieces inspired by poetry and a discussion of the role of the artist in society. back



The Origin of Russian Primitivism? Alexander Grechaninov’s Arrangements of Asian Songs

Igor Stravinsky’s contribution to Primitivism in music has been widely acknowledged. Much less is known, however, about the early twentieth-century contributions of other Russian composers to the musical representation of so-called “primitive” cultures of Russia’s Asian ethnic minorities. Several musical elements associated with Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps (the prominence of rhythm, ostinato-driven formulas, repetition, simplicity of thematic material combined with discordant harmony) are found in compositions of another Russian composer, Alexander Grechaninov. In his arrangement of a Teptiar’ folksong, composed for an ethnographic concert organized by the Music-Ethnographic Committee, Grechaninov created a cultural connection between Russia’s past and an Asian present by using the musical vocabulary associated with the “primitive pagan Rus” (Cui) and semi-wild Asia.

In this talk I compare Grechaninov’s arrangements of Teptiar’, Bashkir, and Tatar folksongs. I suggest that these songs exemplified hierarchies of values established in ethnographic literature and shaped the perceptions and responses to Asian subjects living in the Russian empire. I argue that the goal behind Grechaninov’s representation of Russia’s Asian “primitive” subjects differed from that of pagan Russia in Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps. Grechaninov’s arrangements sought to present a culturally appropriated and recontextualized depiction of Russia’s Asian neighbours and to promote an image of Russia as a multiethnic yet united state. This talk therefore contributes to the discussion of artistic works produced in Russia prior to Sacre du printemps and enriches our understanding of how the tradition of representing the “primitive” developed in Russia.

Adalyat Issiyeva is a PhD. Candidate (McGill University), working on political implications of Russian nineteenth-century oriental art song. This project is supported by FRSC and SSHRC. Issiyeva participated in a number of conferences organized by AAASS, AMS, CUMS, and CESS. Forthcoming article: “‘Connected by the ties of blood’: Musical Scales in the Quest for the Russian/Asian Identity,” Revue de CEES (December 2012). Research interests: Russian music; Orientalism; Nationalism; Ethnography, Central Asian music and politics of representation. back



The Russian Reception of Le Sacre du printemps, 1913

Even a century after the premiere of Le Sacre du printemps, Russian contemporary sources offer a wealth of material on the Ballets Russes and particularly on Nijinsky’s 1913 choreography that are extremely rarely read and never really analyzed in detail. This paper will give an overview of some of these sources, their main points of criticism about Diaghilev’s enterprise, and their varied but generally positive discussion on Nijinsky’s work that contests much that has been said of Sacre in dance history. By ignoring these sources, dance historians have canonized Diaghilev and his company in ways that prove true many of the concerns of these informed Russian authors. However, I will end the paper with some contrasts with how Sacre was discussed in contemporary French and English press to attest that the Russians were actually mistaken in their condemnation of their Western colleagues’ interest in dancing or ability to discuss the art form.

Hanna Järvinen holds degrees in Cultural History and Performance Studies. Her 2003 dissertation dealt with the transformations in dance authorship in the figure of Vaslav Nijinsky and she has since specialized in the epistemological concerns of dance history. She has published in e.g. The Senses and Society, Dance Research and Dance Research Journal. back



Violence, Beauty, and Dasein in Le Sacre du printemps

Since the original 1913 version, there have been many different interpretations of Le Sacre du printemps. Yet, all have commonality in bringing their dancers to the edge of an extreme physical, mental, and emotional effort. Movement in these choreographies is not an abstraction. Rather, it is an experience of life captured in physical challenges and emotional complexity that refers to the meaning of human existence, or Dasein, which translates literally from German as ‘being there.’ Martin Heidegger conceptualizes Dasein as both noun and verb: as a state of being and a process of becoming that occurs over history and time. It is interconnected with being, essence, existence, truth, and beauty. Consequently, this paper develops a line of thought around Dasein in Le Sacre du printemps by exploring the following questions: How is Dasein performed in both Pina Bausch and Marie Chouinard versions? How is beauty conceptualized within violence and performed through the movement and the musical score? And, finally, what is the relation between truth and beauty in these two choreographies?  This paper intertextualizes dance studies, philosophy, and critical theory. 

Miriana Lausic is a PhD student in Dance Studies at York University as a recipient of the Ontario Trillium Scholarship. Previously she earned an MFA in Choreography from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a degree in History from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Santiago de Chile. Her choreographies were presented at the JohnF.KennedyCenter for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap, the Lincoln Theatre, and Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Washington, DC. back



 Encountering Sacre through Role-play

Finding ways into the vast literature on Le Sacre du printemps poses challenges for specialists and novices alike. This presentation on a teaching experiment leads to an open forum in which conferees can share experiences and strategies. In the summer of 2011, Selma Odom led a dance and modernism seminar, in which a group of graduate students delved into an examination of the original Sacre using the microhistories of its key stakeholders as an entry point. Everyone involved in the seminar—Selma included—was responsible for researching the involvement of two stakeholders in the Ballets Russes production and reception, with the ultimate aim of participating in a historical role-play session at the end of the term. This interactive and collaborative assignment invited us to inhabit historical figures, taking on their perspectives, postures, and even mannerisms, through a series of structured improvisatory vignettes that considered how the events surrounding Sacre might have unfolded. Within a decentred pedagogical framework, history came alive as we enacted a series of encounters, such as the initial meetings between Stravinsky and Roerich, and Nijinsky choreographing the role of the Chosen One on Nijinska. Throughout the process, as we pieced together historical accounts, critical responses, biographies, and autobiographies (at times, conflicting) with musical and visual sources, the performativity of history was rendered visible. In this paper, Erin McCurdy, one of the students in the seminar, and Selma Odom appraise role-play and microhistory as methods for research. Interwoven are reflections gathered from other seminar members and video documentation of scenes the group devised.

Erin McCurdy is a PhD candidate in the Communication and Culture program at Ryerson and YorkUniversities. As a choreographer Erin has contributed to numerous festivals including the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival and the Toronto International Dance Festival, and her dance-based video art has been screened at the Continental Drift International Short Film Festival. Erin holds an MA in Communication and Culture and a BFA in Performance Dance. Her research focuses on dance and museums. 

Selma Odom, Professor Emerita at York University, is a dance historian and writer. She was founding director of the MA and PhD programs in dance and dance studies, the first offered in Canada. Her articles and reviews have appeared in many publications since the 1960s, and she co-edited the anthology Canadian Dance: Visions and Stories (2004). Her long-term research focuses on practice, identity, and oral transmission in the Dalcroze method. An article-in-progress is called “Dalcroze Eurhythmics in the Creation and Reception of Le Sacre du printemps.back



Frank Martin’s La nique à Satan (1929 – 1931): The Dalcroze Connection

This presentation focuses on the creative affinity between Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950) and fellow Swiss composer Frank Martin (1890-1974). Early in his career, Martin forged close ties with Dalcroze’s Eurhythmics method, and in 1926, he enrolled in Dalcroze’s Geneva-based Institut Jaques-Dalcroze. He graduated with a Diplôme in 1928 and taught there as a professor of improvisation and rhythmic theory until 1937. During Martin’s tenure as professor of rhythmic theory and improvisation at Dalcroze’s Institut, he composed the score for La nique à Satan. Martin conceived of a popular theatre piece that included singing, mime, dance and elaborate costumes. He involved numerous Institut teachers and students in the Geneva première on February 25, 1933. Martin also dedicated the vocal/piano edition of the score to Dalcroze. This talk will explain how the songs in Martin’s composition resemble some of the prominent aspects of Dalcroze’s Eurhythmics method. The eurhythmic subjects of irregular beats, anacrusic rhythms, complementary rhythm and bodily gesture correspond with important aspects of Martin’s score. The presentation also includes footage from a 1998 performance of La nique à Satan by the Swiss ensemble, Choeur d’Avully.

Daniel Rubinoff earned a PhD in musicology from York University in 2012. He was the recipient of a three-year SSHRC Josef-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, and also was awarded research grants to conduct archival research at the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva and the Frank Martin Archive in Amsterdam. He has published many articles in the American Dalcroze Journal and Being Music/The Canadian Dalcroze Journal. His Dalcroze work has also appeared in Korean and Swiss journals and he has actively involved in Dalcroze research related to seniors and children. Rubinoff has studied Dalcroze Eurhythmics at the Juilliard School in New York and at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. He gives lectures and workshops on Dalcroze throughout Canada. Currently, he is Adjunct Professor of Performance and Music Theory at York University.  back



Searching in the Darkness: Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness

In her description of material contained in the database “Stravinsky the Global Dancer,” (Jordan and Larraine Nicholas, 2003) Stephanie Jordan asserts that there has been “unrelenting global demand” by choreographers for Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps , comprising a “formidable array of genres: the styles of American and European modern dance, physical theatre, Tanztheater and post-modern Butoh, as well as stylistic mixes incorporating ballet… contemporary as well as historical settings; and a range of ethnographic situations…” Jordan notes that there have been “over 80 uses of the score since 1990,” fueled perhaps partly by the Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer reconstruction of Sacre for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987. The Joffrey Sacre inspired American choreographer Molissa Fenley to create what dance critic John Gruen called “a forty-minute miracle of endurance and exultation…a singular achievement within the canon of contemporary dance.”

The purpose of my paper is to examine Molissa Fenley’s piece, State of Darkness. Specifically, I will investigate the ways in which Fenley’s version circumvents a stereotypically gendered reading of the Chosen One, discuss how critics and Fenley herself viewed State of Darkness as a turning point in her career, and look at how the movement vocabulary of the piece reflects Fenley’s images, influences, and her understanding of “the open space of the world.” Finally, I intend to look carefully at the ways in which the soloists who have inherited Fenley’s role (Boal, Foster, and Moore) elicit uniquely different viewing experiences of the piece through their individually nuanced performances. 

Cynthia Williams is a Professor of Dance at Hobart and WilliamSmithColleges where she teaches modern dance technique, dance history, improvisation, and composition. A choreographer and lighting designer, Cynthia’s current research projects include interviewing contemporary choreographers Jane Comfort, David Dorfman, and Doug Varone, planning a somatics conference with William (Bill) Evans for June, 2013, and developing movement/body awareness experiences for young cellists. back