Ballet Causes Street Riot!!

You just had to look right? I mean, the headline –who can ignore that? Ballet causes street riot? Piques your interest maybe a little? What kind of ballet – a badly performed “Nutcracker” perhaps? What about the delicate (generally) kinetic artistry of classical ballet could cause violence in the streets? Well for one thing it wasn’t classical and for another there was nothing delicate about it.

At the premiere of Stravinsky’s RITE OF SPRING in 1912 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris patrons experienced (operative word) something new: dissonant sometimes savage music from which were derived angular sometimes savage movements in a piece of visual storytelling unlike anything they had everexperienced (operative word) before.

Poor Stravinsky – there he sits watching his epochal work as the audience begins to fidget – then hiss and boo then become disorderly to the point that the police can no longer contain the mayhem. The audience itself became a metaphor for the “behavior” of the work: musical inspiration uncontainable by the structures of classical music theory.

The fact that the subject matter dealt with pagan rituals and pre-historic catastrophe likely didn’t help but it was Stravinsky’s ability to experientially transform the power of this ancient world and express it in his score that made it visceral and clearly, unforgettable. The stuff of legends.

The power of experience is like that; done well it is visceral, powerful, unforgettable and life-changing. Its power lies in its ability to immerse an audience through sensory stimulation; referenced against their common experience it can elicit a powerful response they will never forget.

Remember that when you design an attraction, a ride or a museum exhibit; tell your story in a way that compels your guests to take notice, to be moved. Stimulate their senses, their sensibilities and most of all, their imaginations. Use their collective experience as a backdrop and paint a picture they’ll never forget.