Blood and the Bolero

“I don’t know what will become of this piece. Our brave critics will no doubt charge me with imitating Ravel’s Bolero. Too bad – this is how I hear war.”
                      — Dmitri Shostakovich

Ida Rubenstein strode onto the Paris Opera stage on November 22, 1928, and stepped onto a table.  The set resembled a rustic Spanish tavern and several couples danced below a brass lamp hanging from the ceiling.  They encouraged a female dancer to join them.  A snare drum softly tapped out a modest rat, rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat and Ida Rubenstein began to dance.  “Ida portrayed a voluptuous dancer whose suggestive dance atop a table in a rustic Spanish tavern incites the men to dance with her until they lose further control of their ‘senses,’ and end up in a violent brawl,” wrote J. M. Lacey for Season Ticket in 2010.  The dance “caused a sensation,” he said.  “When the piece ended, Ida’s provocative dance and Ravel’s dynamic music caused a near-riot between the audience and the performers.”  “Ida narrowly escaped injury,” he added.

 


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