Sacre Material

What remains of an opus when taken as a starting point for compositional and choreographic creation? Above all, such an opus has to be ”strong“, it has to be dense and complex in order to enable the creation of something new and at the same time saves aspects of the original. For our project Sacre Material (2000) we have been elaborating principles on all different levels (score, choreography, scene) from Le Sacre du Printemps (1913) in order to arrive at new findings.

For instance, there are well known graphic poses in the choreography which are the consequence of a particular –not natural or organic– body organization: these poses constitute our cultural common knowledge, since in the longest run of dance history, movement has been handed over as frozen poses. However, there are certain principles of which these poses are only a fleeting and at random chosen point in time. Some of these principlies we have taken to develop our leitmotiv from motion analysis: asymmetry, contrarily directed but simultaneous motions, rhythmic overlapping, restricted radius, unusual patterns of coordination, precision.


Le Sacre du Printemps by Strawinsky / Nijinsky / Röhrich (1913) tells the procedure of a pagan ritual. We could have outlined various contemporary scenarios of sacrifice where performers attempt to go beyond their limits witnessed by an audience: bull fighting, downhill skiing, car racing, Big Brother. We have decided to take the ritual structures which lie behind all these scenarios of sacrifice: Three female dancers, each of them on her own, exposed to an audience which is rather close to the action.

Therefore, Sacre Material raises a close kinship of similarities with the original opus, based on considerations of choreography, composition, space and dramaturgy.


Sacre Material regards itself as a musical-choreogaphic attempt of arrangement based on the exposition of Le sacre du Printemps by Igor Strawinsky and Vaclav Nijinski. Parts of the original score are interwoven with conpositions by Max Nagl for various percussion instruments – ranging from classical drums to tablas and playthings – and are then installed particularly for the blue saloon in the Sofiensäle by Mike Casey (sound) and Philipp Hanoncourt (scene and lighting). This acoustic-visual arrangement and the presence of the audience create the ambience for a series of female soli. The three young dancers Keren Levi (Israel), Pernille Bonkan (Norway), and Liz Roche (Ireland) are trying with the help of choreographic and inprovisatorial instructions to put to the test their physical and psychic limits. Not an emotional affinity or interpretation of the sacrifice theme should be the starting point but an analysis of the original opus from 1913 put into context with the social reality of today.

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