Rite of Spring

Event Date: 

Friday, April 15, 2022 - 7:00pm to Saturday, April 16, 2022 - 7:00pm

Event Date Details: 

APR 15 - 16, 2022 / 7 pm

Event Location: 

  • Hatlen Theater

Event Price: 


$17 - General Audience


$18 - General Audience

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concert director Meredith Cabaniss

Local dance artist and graduate student in the Department of Theater and Dance Meredith Cabaniss presents Rite of Spring, a program featuring a contemporary adaptation of Le Sacre du Printemps and performances by dance artists from throughout Southern California.

Le Sacre du Printemps was originally performed on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The advance publicity for the production had called the ballet “real and true art,” praising both the choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky and the avant-garde musical composition by Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky, who developed the libretto for the ballet, described Sacre as a “musico-choreographic work... unified by a single idea: the mystery and great surge of the creative power of Spring.” Nijinsky’s choreography subverted traditional ballet steps in favor of internal rotation of the feet, collapsed and contracted body shapes, and the use of stamping and flat-footed jumping. The premiere proved scandalous, causing a “riot” that has since become legendary. Reviews of Le Sacre du Printempsin the New York Times called it a “failure” and described the audience hissing and booing at the performers, Nijinsky’s choreography, and Stravinsky’s score. In spite of – or perhaps due to – its controversial premiere, Sacre has had a lasting impact on the historical consciousness of Western dance. Since the 1913 premiere, more than 200 different adaptations have been performed worldwide.

In her adaptation, Meredith Cabaniss creates a new and refreshing take on the revolutionary 1913 ballet with dancers from throughout Southern California. Cabaniss has chosen to develop the work with members of her company Selah Dance Collective, State Street Ballet, and dancers from the greater Los Angeles area in collaboration with UCSB's undergraduate Dance program. Cabaniss continues to develop her distinctive blend of athleticism and poignant storytelling through the medium of contemporary dance.

Cabaniss’s choice to only cast women in her adaptation is a stark departure from the traditional cast of men and women. This choice, she states, comes from her experience in the field of dance where the power dynamics contain more nuance and complexity between women who compete for the same resources and privileges. “I wanted to see if something would come out of this process differently if I focused purely on the ways that the story of Rite – the rituals, the sacrifice, and the eventual tragedy of its conclusion – came from womens’ interactions with one another. In my experience, I have suffered more at the hands of women in my field who were trying to help me than I ever have by someone who has tried to hurt me.”

When asked why she chose to create her own version of the infamous ballet, she stated, “I think that our adaptation of a work such Sacre provides an opportunity to create a kinesthetic relationship to history, forging a connection that is threaded through Sacre’s 109-year history and the hundreds of bodies who have performed this work.” Ballet companies, she says, perform ballets with choreographic lineages that can be traced back to the 19th century, either adapting the original movement or choreographing their own movements. Re-choreographing Rite could easily be categorized as an ambitious exercise in historical research or a vanity project, but Cabaniss asserts that her purpose is different. She says that this adaptation and work like it,“have the potential to unlock new ways of understanding the past, navigating the present, and preparing for the future.”

About Meredith Cabaniss
Meredith Cabaniss is a multi-creative artist based out of southern California. She holds a BFA in dance from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA in Dance from Hollins University in coordination with the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, and The Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company (formerly the Forsythe Company). She is currently pursuing a MA in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Santa Barbara. As the founder and artistic director of selah dance collective, Ms. Cabaniss has produced full evening-length performances and presented works throughout the United States in prestigious festivals throughout the United States including the DUMBO Dance Festival (NY) and FREEdom DANCEfest (SF). Her work has been performed most recently in Estonia, Norway, Finland, and Italy and is frequently commissioned by the University of California, Santa Barbara for their performing companies. Meredith also currently serves as co-artistic director of Sespe Dance Co. in Ventura and as a featured artist with Nebula Dance Lab in Santa Barbara, collaborating on multimedia evening-length works at the historic Lobero Theater. She currently also serves as Dance and Choreography Director for Lights Up!, a local pre-professional theater company and as a board member for Artspace Inc/Center Stage Theater, a black-box style community theater in downtown Santa Barbara. She is on faculty at the prestigious Camarillo Academy and State Street Ballet in their professional-track division.
About Selah Dance Collective
Selah Dance Collective, Inc is a contemporary dance company dedicated to producing original work, creating educational experiences through performance, and maintaining a platform for community dance works and emerging artists through outreach, education, and mentorship. Selah Dance Collective, Inc (or SELAH), a Santa Barbara-based contemporary dance company, creates and performs worldwide original work by artistic director and founder Meredith Cabaniss. Founded in 2014, SELAH has captured the attention of fellow artists, presenters, and audiences with its innovative work and challenging physicality grounded by a focus to make dance more accessible and relatable to all people.

The department's productions are not targeted to children. | Please contact 805-893-3022 with special needs.
Season schedule subject to change.