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Yang Liping: Rite of Spring - Sadler's Wells

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ICONIC Chinese dancer and choreographer Yang Liping is presenting a unique interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at Sadler’s Wells. Her second international contemporary dance work to make its UK premiere at the venue, it runs from Thursday, May 9 to Saturday, May 11, 2019.

A full-length production for 15 performers, Liping’s Rite of Spring utilises Stravinsky’s iconic score alongside original compositions inspired by traditional Tibetan music.

Collaborating with multi-award-winning lighting designer Fabiana Piccioli, Oscar-winning designer Tim Yip, creative producer Farooq Chaudhry and dramaturg Geluo Liang, Liping reimagines the notion of pagan ritual sacrifice as set out in Stravinsky’s musical narrative through Asian spiritual philosophies, symbols and aesthetics.

Known as the “Peacock Princess” in her native China, Liping’s affectionate nickname stems from her most famous dance work, Spirit of the Peacock, inspired by the traditional peacock folk dancing of her youth. Rite of Spring follows her 2016 work Under Siege, her stunning vision of Farewell My Concubine – the classical tale of the climactic battle between the Chu and Han armies, which changed the course of Chinese history.

In this radical retelling of Rite of Spring, originally choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (1913), the female sacrificial protagonist volunteers her body for sacrifice as her earthbound duty to her community, with the knowledge her spirit will return purified of the cruelties and unpredictable nature of humankind.

Creative producer Farooq Chaudhry comments: “Yang Liping’s Rite of Spring powerfully demonstrates how a Chinese artist can take a western iconic score and give it a new cultural relevance. It’s an exhilarating reinterpretation drawing on Tibetan concepts of the cycles of life and rebirth and the indivisible unity of humankind and nature.”

Tickets: £15 – £50. To book, call the ticket office on 020 7863 8000 or visit

Time: Thursday to Saturday at 7:30pm.