The below post is the ninth in a series of 13 texts related to NOW-ID's inaugural Rite of Spring, loosely following the 13 episodes in Stravinsky's score. Glorification of the Chosen One is by Kate Mattingly, Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. Get your tickets to the performance here.
Exhaustion plays a crucial role in the story and score of The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky’s music builds from spare, almost melancholy melodies to swirling, pulsing, and pounding rhythms. Choreographers have reflected this intensity and velocity in movement that tests the limits of dancers’ capacities.
One of the Joffrey Ballet dancers who performed the role of the Chosen One, the virgin who dances to death, in the company’s reconstruction of Nijinsky’s choreography, described the fatigue as distinct from other ballets: "A lot of times in ballet you get winded, your breath is short and you start to lose some of the control in your legs. At the end of the Chosen One, it feels like your legs have melted beneath you," said Anastacia Holden.
Parallels could be drawn between the physical disintegration that is produced through the choreography and the environmental disintegration that happens in neighborhoods where industries are no longer relevant. The area where NOW-ID has chosen to perform their Rite of Spring used to be a flourishing center for metal casting. The May Foundry, located at 454 West 600 North, was established in 1912 by Ruben May, and lasted more than 100 years before shutting down a couple years ago. Mike May, great-grandson of Ruben, was the general manager in 2014 when he told Company Week that foundries are “misunderstood” as relics and irrelevant. May Foundry produced 80 types of metal, including super-duplex stainless steel and ductile iron. Their client roster included companies like Caterpillar and Barnes Aerospace. In addition, they worked with military, automotive, industrial, and agricultural clients.
But the company couldn’t survive the economic downturns and technological advances of recent years, and its machinery now stands unused. Such devastation, especially when it occurs to a business that is family-owned, can take a toll on individuals. Evidence of just how quickly industries can change, the foundry looks more like a museum than a factory. To situate a Rite of Spring in its vicinity seems to beg the questions, “How do we sustain changing economies? How do people transition when vocations that were once needed become obsolete? How does the physical exhaustion that the Rite of Spring presents help us think through and perhaps work against assumptions that people are disposable?”