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Choreographer announced for The Rite of Spring

Jeanguy Saintus is today announced as the choreographer for Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, a new production in association with Phoenix Dance Theatre. It will be the internationally-acclaimed Haitian choreographer’s first work with a UK dance company.

Presented in a double-bill with Puccini’s short comic opera Gianni Schicchi as part of our Winter 2019 season, the newly choreographed version will also mark Opera North’s first collaboration with fellow Leeds-based arts organisation Phoenix.

Jeanguy Saintus © Antoine Tempé

Choreographer, dancer, and educator Jeanguy Saintus is the founder of Haiti’s premiere dance company Ayikodans. He has also established Artcho Danse, a dance centre for children and adults in Port-au-Prince, where a scholarship programme called Dansepyenu (Dance Barefoot) provides lessons for talented young dancers unable to afford tuition. He received the Netherlands’ prestigious Prince Claus Award for his work in expanding the possibilities of dance, fostering young talent, and inspiring pride in Haitian identity.

Jeanguy Saintus comments:

 “I am thrilled about my upcoming adventure with Phoenix Dance Theatre. I’m very much looking forward to exchanging knowledge, ideas, and movements with the dancers and the creative team.

To re-envision a revered narrative choreographed by luminaries sounds like a feat. I will bring my truth to this rite of passage, embedding the initiation into how I experience Haitian culture. There will be dialogue. There will also be discomfort. But throughout, we will value respectful empathy.

I can’t wait for us to move through the lessons of this challenge. I’m very excited, grateful and humbled that I was chosen to do the work.”

The 1913 premiere of the Rite ended in a riot, as the shockingly dissonant music, together with Vaslav Nijinsky’s unconventional choreography, provoked anger from the Parisian audience. For our reworking, the  unmistakable modernist score will be performed by the full Orchestra of Opera North, led by conductor Garry Walker.

Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Sharon Watson comments:

“By presenting our diversity and brand-new contemporary choreography alongside the thoroughly modern and complex score performed by Opera North’s orchestra, we are becoming a part of the colourful history of this piece over 100 years after it was first performed.”

“Opera North has long sought to programme a new version of The Rite of Spring,” says Opera North’s General Director, Richard Mantle:

“We are delighted that Jeanguy Saintus will be choreographing this new version of one of the most significant pieces of dance music of the 20th century, and we are equally excited to collaborate with the exceptional ensemble of Phoenix Dance Theatre for the first time for this visceral, gripping work.

“Opera North has a long history of experimental programming, constantly seeking to reinvigorate the classical artforms and deliver exceptional experiences to audiences across the country. We believe this is the first time The Rite of Spring has been paired with Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and it will take pride of place in our history alongside previous opera and dance mixed-bills.”

The double bill of The Rite of Spring and Gianni Schicchi  runs at Leeds Grand Theatre from 16 February to 2 March 2019, before touring to The Lowry, Salford Quays, Theatre Royal Newcastle and Theatre Royal Nottingham.


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