Sasha Waltz & Guests: Sacre

Photo Credit: Bernd UhligPhoto Credit: Bernd Uhlig

It was with a kind of reluctance that I decided to go see Sasha Waltz’s triple bill of performances entitled Sacre. Perhaps because I knew it would be an event. An evening of people spotting and schmoozing.

The triple bill premiered in 2013 for the centenary celebrations of Igor Stravinsky’s 1913 riot inducing Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring).

The evening ran in three parts and so does this review.

L’Apres-midi d’un faune

The evening opened with this primary coloured piece. Using the famous Claude Debussy symphonic poem which first premiered in 1894, and then made famous/infamous by Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes. The dancers writhed, and contorted in ecstasy. They flirted and cavorted with a care free summer’s day freedom. The Faun himself dances with pleasure, living within his muscular contained body.

Watching this piece was a visual treat. And I did not feel guilty being the voyeur. The juicy movements of the nymphs became hypnotizing and it was all about feeling one’s body, being there in the moment of transcendental ecstasy. Shaking off the constraints of society.

I could see why the original 1912 piece caused somewhat of scandal. Back then the body was dirty and something which must be controlled and therefore de-humanized. It was a threat to society.

Skin should be hidden.

Using this notion of hidden skin, a moment of the unexpected happened onstage. A dancer walks the stage slowly, followed by another, whom at first seems to be stoking him. After a few moments it becomes apparent that he was picking. Picking the skin off the man.
Peeling him with same focused intent as you would peel an orange . The man was born again from this shedding. Showing off his tattoos. His real self?

The illustrated man turns to a nymph who is now prettying herself for him. Red lipstick on pouty lips.

She reclines as he tattoos her. It evokes a fire within here. She is sensuality embodied.

What surprised me most about this 12 minute performance was the commitment of the performers, the full bodied experience of their dancing. The Europeans do it well?


Choreographer: Sasha Waltz
Composer: Claude Debussy
Stage and Costume: GIOM/Guilliaume Bruere
Light: Martin Hauk
Repetition: Jiri Bartovanec
Dancers: Jiri Bartovanec, Davide Camplani, Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, Luc Dunberry, Maya Gomez, Hwanhee Hwang, Virgas Puodziunas, Sasa Queliz, Mata Sakka, Yael Schnell, Joel Suarez Gomez.
Duration 12 mins

Scene d’ Amour

Two lovers awake to find themselves confined within the parameters of a box. Bit like love really.

They dance together to the music of Hector Berlioz’s Romeo et Juilette.

This piece in my mind was a bit of a time filler before Sacre. The two dancers I felt came across a bit insincere. But I suppose trying to create love onstage does that.

This wasn’t my favourite piece of the evening and at 17 minutes felt a lot longer.

Don’t get me wrong it was pretty. And that was about it, like a John Lewis advert.
The music was exquisite and I often wondered if like me, audience members created their own narratives whilst listening, forgetting about the dancers altogether?

But with such beautiful music, you couldn’t really create something ugly and extreme.


Choreographer: Sasha Waltz
Composer: Hector Berlioz’s- Romeo et Juliette
Costume: Bernd Skodzig
Dancers: Lorena Justribo Manion, Ygal Tsur
Repetition: Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola


I will not mention the P word. I won’t. Even though I want to, I won’t make comparisons.

For me this piece is legendary, the music, the history of the ballet, the riot, the chairs being thrown, the costumes, everything.

The story is quite simple but yet dark and insidious. The mysteries of the earth, the connections to the underworld and the dance of death.

It begins with otherness, abject beings move in the smoke, flooding the stage. Navigating around a mound of ash, the leftovers from a fire?

Together they pleaded, played and made rituals to unseen gods. Celebrated the spring and appeased Elders.

The dancers wrestled with the energies of the music, controlling it as if it was a slippery snake. Their movements were visceral, strong, and sinewy. And often I thought quite camp. Martha Graham campness. I wasn’t mad by it, it was refreshing.

A stylized form that has been missing on the London stage. And perhaps in the studio?

Throughout the piece, the slow reveal of what looked like a shard descended from above. Sharp and foreboding. Like the sword of Damocles. Waiting to kill. I found myself sweating.

One dancer emerges as the chosen one, she undoes herself. Exposing her strength and frailty.


Choreographer: Sasha Waltz
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Costume: Bernd Skodzig
Stage: Pia Maier Schriever, Sasha Waltz
Light: Thilo Ruz
Repition: Antonio Ruz
Dancers: Liza Alpizer Aguilar, Ayaka Azechi, Blenard Azizai, Jiri Bartovanec, Davide Camplani, Maria Marta Colusi, Juan Kruz de Garaio Esnaola, Luc Dunberry, Delphine Gaborit, Maya Gomez, Peggy Grelat-Dupont, Hwanhee Hwang, Lorena Justribo Manion, Margaux Marielle-Trehouart, Sergiu Matis, Michal Mualem, Davide Di Pretoro, Virgis Puodziunas, Sasa Queliz, Zaratina Randrianantenina.