On May 29, 1913, the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris witnessed what has become a tale of artistic scandal re-told and exaggerated to almost mythic proportions. It is said that just seconds after the stage curtain was raised, the Ballet Russes’ performance of Igor Stravinksy’s “The Rite of Spring” triggered a raucous riot of heckling and heated arguments, which culminated with hurled objects, punches and arrests.
How violent it really became is still a mystery, but the event has gone down in history as one the most shocking stage performances of the 20th century. Sergei Diaghilev, the Russian ballet impresario and founder of Ballet Russes, was not upset. If anything, he was pleased.