Henrietta Horn

Purist, archaic, avant-garde: Mary Wigman’s 1957 ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’ congenially reconstructed

 Faz, 12/11/2013



The audience in Osnabrück caught their breath. The effect of ‘Sacre’ was as if a precious panel painting, after years of restoration, was presented to the public again in fresh colours: all dancers wore long Rasta wigs and simple, ochre robes, the priestesses and the ‘Mother Figure’ were clad in grey cowls, the men in earthy tones. The ‘Chosen One’, however, performed by Hsiao-Ting Liao at the premiere, looked like Martha Graham in her cherry-red, elegant, floor-length gown.


Performed on an elliptic set which looked like a slightly raised platform deposited on the stage and rising towards the back, the aesthetics of the piece seemed both archaic and modern – quite in keeping with Stravinsky’s idea. [...] The compelling final solo was not by Mary Wigman, nor by the original performer Dore Hoyer, but imagined by Henrietta Horn, based on fragments of the recollections of those involved in the premiere, after careful study of all written memoirs and photos preserved in the archives. It was crafted as scrupulously as the whole reconstruction, which does indeed change our contemporary perspective on Mary Wigman by revealing her to be more modern than could be assumed.



… powerful acting

die-deutsche-buehne.de, November 2013



Based only on Wigman’s sketches and notes, equipped with photos and recollections of the dancers involved in the premiere, the team headed by artistic director Henrietta Horn ‘re-‘captured the production for the stage in a painstaking process of reconstruction. [...] The nature of Stravinsky’s composition, whose challenges the Osnabrück Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Inbal, rose to apparently effortlessly, is still disturbing, in a wild way that is able to reach our innermost being. [...]


The floor-length costumes, modelled on the 1950s originals by designer Alfred Peter, though with futuristic cuts that made them look suitably modernised, also played a dominant role. Hsiao-Ting Liao’s, who performed the “Chosen One” in a symbolically blood-red gown at the Osnabrück premiere (the casting alternates), immensely powerful acting focused all attention on the victim as she danced the part with great precision and personal attitude. [...] Doubtless this was a piece of dance history revived, which made this night one of the most important in the Sacre-year of 2013. A massive and ambitious task brilliantly mastered by the two theatres and the reconstruction team.



A devastating document

Berliner Zeitung, 18/11/2013



Mary Wigman’s “Sacre” is a devastating document of the post-war era. It is precisely in its attempt to hold on to what cannot be preserved that it evokes incredible terror. This dance performance brings home to us what a loss of culture the non-preservation of our dance heritage entails.



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