Herald Young Critics
Rite of Spring
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
James McNab
four stars

DANCE, Chinese culture, classical music and Buddhism are all ingredients for the Rite of Spring, originally by Stravinsky and adapted by Yang Liping which right away tells you that this dance is like no other. Once the show had begun it was complete silence, the slightest cough or ruffle of a jacket could be heard from across the theatre and would break the gaze from many people in the completely full audience since everyone was captivated by the slow, jittery movements like a praying mantis.
Before the show even started there was heavy use of Eastern Asia influences which includes a Buddhist monk (portrayed by Xiaofan Feng) slowly carrying a crate of wooden Chinese characters, placing them steadily in an ever changing circle as a group of women in leotards and halo like headpieces sat inside that circle doing what appeared to be meditation.
The pace was ever changing going from very small and tranquil movements to a sudden riot-like state on stage. The dancers’ movements went from swaying like flowers in a breeze, with lots of vivid colours, to doing aggressive and sudden flips changing the entire feel of the dance.
I didn’t really understand what was going on, much like a lot of the audience, but I would recommend this as it has a unique blend of styles from different cultures. You can’t help but have your attention grabbed whether you’re a dance lover or not.
*James McNab is a pupil at Leith Academy and this review was submitted as part of The Herald Young Critics project with the Edinburgh International Festival.


Another review of Peacock Dance's Rite of Spring from Leith Academy appears below:


Festival Dance

Rite of Spring

Festival Theatre

Mirren Armstrong

two stars


IT was like a car constantly breaking down, stopping and starting. Yang Liping’s production of a Rite of Spring at the Festival Theatre failed to deliver a clear narrative thread. The uninitiated would be lost.


There was a very clear influence from Tibetan culture due to the glimmering head dresses and the monk who was calm amongst the chaos on the stage. The majority of the music seemed to be very Eastern, with only some of Stravinsky’s great music shining through. It wasn’t a harmonious union.


The costumes never lacked colour nor impact. But you couldn’t help but notice the lack of individuality amongst the dancers. It leaves you questioning whether Liping wanted them to be seen as one, or was she unable to make each one stand out?


The dancers movements varied throughout the performance. The most mesmerising was the contortion of long green fingernails, suggesting grass in the wind. It was a very earthy and psychedelic to watch. As the show came to an end, golden glitter showered from the ceiling onto a great bowl in which a dancer was sat. It was “eye candy” at its finest. On the flip side, some of the more sensual dances became rather uncomfortable to watch from a younger perspective.


The piece as a whole was visually enticing, where you physically could not look away. However it is too reliant on the visual impact and completely misses the mark with conveying a story.