Yang Liping on Rite of Spring: 'There's an ocean of information in there'

This article is from 2019

Rite of Spring

Chinese interpretation of the Stravinsky classic

The Rite of Spring may be intrinsically linked with Russia, but tales of rebirth and renewal have their roots in cultures all over the world. Growing up in China's Yunnan province, which borders Tibet, choreographer Yang Liping would dance at the ceremonial harvest each year. So although her new interpretation acknowledges versions that have gone before, the movement is inspired by her own life.

A household name in her homeland, Liping is making her Edinburgh International Festival debut with this work in three parts. Stravinsky's iconic score is the filling in a visually-striking sandwich, with traditional Tibetan music by Chinese composer He Xuntian either side of it.

Liping worked with long-time collaborator, designer and artist Tip Yip on the show (best known for his Academy Award-winning designs for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and to say their Rite of Spring is full would be an understatement.

'There are a lot of different things that can be taken away from this show,' says Liping. 'But that will depend on the audience, because they'll have different feelings about it afterwards. Some will like the dancing, some will like the stage design, some will respond to the religion and philosophy within it. So the audience will take away whatever they want to – but there's an ocean of information in there.'

Festival Theatre, until 24 Aug, 8pm, £15–£35.

Rite of Spring

  • 5 stars

This exhilarating reinterpretation of The Rite of Spring draws on Tibetan concepts of the cycles of life and rebirth and the indivisible unity of humankind and the natural world. Taking inspiration from Chinese and Tibetan symbols of nature, Yang Liping creates a preface and a coda, framing Stravinsky’s totemic work as…