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A photo still from a performance of The Rites of Spring. The dancers are all mid-jump, facing the right but looking over their shoulders towards the audience.

Daily Helping for August 19th, 2023 – The Rites of Spring / common ground[s]

I watch a lot of dance pieces on YouTube as part of this challenge. And I love it, because I love dance. But there is nothing quite like watching a dance piece live in person. This was most recently driven home when I saw a double bill of dance pieces at the Edinburgh International Festival. The first, common ground[s], was choreographed and performed by Germaine Acogny and Malou Airaudo, two extraordinary women in the world of dance. The piece was tender and beautiful, and I enjoyed it very much. But if I’m being honest, it wasn’t the reason why I bought my ticket that night. That reason came after a very lengthy intermission.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the film Dancing Pina, and how it followed a dance company in Senegal as they restaged Pina Bausch’s The Rites of Spring. That production was cancelled due to COVID, but three years later, it is finally being performed. And this is why I bought my ticket. I wanted to see this incredible production in person. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. In fact, it absolutely blew me away. Everything about this performance was incredible. The staging, the costumes, the lighting. All perfection.

But it was the dancers who had me spellbound the entire time. There were 34 dancers onstage, cast from all over Africa, and they were simply astonishing to behold. I don’t think there are enough adjectives in the English language to adequately describe the beauty of their performance. I had splurged on my ticket and gotten myself a front row seat, so I saw every powerful movement of their bodies. It was extraordinary. I don’t know how I’ll ever go back to watching dance on YouTube.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!