Rite of Spring Dance Party

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About the Project

James Blachly and the Experiential Orchestra created the Rite of Spring Dance Party as a way to invite the audience to move, sweat, and dance to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring performed live. Over the course of five performances in three cities, we found that the unmatched savage power and brilliance of the music felt revolutionary again in the Rite of Spring Dance Party; no other performance of the piece can match the energy of hundreds of people responding physically to Stravinsky’s earth-shaking score.

The idea to dance to the Rite of Spring is what inspired the name Experiential Orchestra. Inviting the audience out of their seats and into a sweaty throng of dancers felt fully immersive in a way that made us realize there was a powerful, two-way energy in this way of making music that excited the musicians and performers as much as it did the audience.

We also wrote a manifesto after the first performance, which we share here:


Whereas: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is one of the most revolutionary pieces of music ever written

And whereas it was composed for (wild, revolutionary) dance, and intended in all ways to shake the audience out of their bones

And whereas it was considered impossible to play at its premiere, but is now performed widely across the world, including in conservatories and even by some youth orchestras

And that thus through frequent performances and recordings, an aesthetic of performance practice that values perfectionism of and because of the ever-growing technical skill of performers around the world, the shock of this work has been dulled 

Therefore: we are starting a new revolution in music with the Rite of Spring Dance Party

We are bringing this piece back to movement, dance, encouraging, allowing, enabling, facilitating, demanding crazy emotional responses & strong visceral reactions

We are letting the audience members be their own choreographers and dancers, respond to the music however they feel it move them, because the Rite of Spring is too powerful a piece to take sitting down

We believe this piece of music should transform you in some palpable way 

And because the Rite is as rich harmonically as it is rhythmically, as sophisticated as anything ever written, and as primal as anything ever experienced, 

we believe that when you let the music flow through your body, and let your body react and respond to these rhythms and sounds and melodies and guttural exhortations and orgasmic ecstasy and painful rebirth and terrifying stillness, you hear the music differently because you feel the music differently.

Moreover: We believe that music should not be exclusively or primarily a synaptic activity

We believe that music is something that should vibrate our aching organs, hit us in the gut, something that can bring feelings up from the roots of our ancestors and into our limbs and backs and bellies

We celebrate that everyone hears music differently every time they listen, and that live orchestral music is the most powerful collective emotional experience humans can have with sound

And so: we are creating concerts that enable the audience to experience music, not just hear it; feel it, not only analyze it. We don’t care how you react to this music, but the Rite of Spring should have a powerful effect on everyone who hears it. 


The world-première recording of “The Prison,” a choral symphony written in 1930 by the English composer Ethel Smyth, arrives as demands for a more representative, equitable canon are mounting. For too long, Smyth has been relegated to footnote status: an ardent suffragist who was jailed for her efforts and a prominent lesbian, she wrote what was, until 2016, the only work by a female composer to be staged at the Metropolitan Opera (“Der Wald,” in 1903). “The Prison” exerts a metaphysical gravity, not just because of the text by Henry Brewster but also because Smyth’s music calls to mind Brahms, Elgar, and even Mahler at their most visionary and searching. The conductor James Blachly elicits splendid work from the vocal soloists, Sarah Brailey and Dashon Burton, and from the Experiential Orchestra and Chorus.

Steve Smith, The New Yorker