Has the Rite of Spring lost so much of its power to shock that it's not worth even trying anymore? When it opened in Paris a hundred years ago, spectators rioted. When Mark Morris unveiled his own choreography on the now classic ballet, it was a big yawn. Retitled Spring, Spring, Spring, it featured the dancers from the Mark Morris Dance Group wearing pastel colored pants for the shirtless boys, and white Greek antiquity outfits for the ladies bringing to mind an ad for United Colors of Benetton. They also had flowers in the hair, because they blossom in the spring, don't they. Flower power, peace and love, we're fine with that, but we expected a Rite to be rugged: the first green shoot of spring struggling to crack through the frozen soil of the tundra. Instead we got flower girls at a Goddess' wedding.
The ballet consists of the dancers on a bare stage trying to react to the music without telling a story, unlike the original with its pagan rituals and virginal maid sacrifice. There are no virgins in his company, Mark Morris quipped. Other than the colorful pants and flowery head bands, it's prop-less. The gaggle of dancers agitate themselves with a lot of energy, but we couldn't figure out what the point was. The Bad Plus, the jazz trio co-founded by former MMDG music director Ethan Iverson, transcribed Stravinsky's score in their own language (which we had seen here already). The rhythmic invention of Stravinsky comes across, even if the subtle orchestral textures are obviously lost.