This extraordinary presentation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was a total triumph, ... the mesmerically controlled movements of dancer Julia Mach, and the brilliant realisation of his own choreography by the concept-designer and artistic director Klaus Obermaier.
This version caused no riot as the original did on its Parisian premiere some 94 years ago, but it was nonetheless a stunning, intense and entirely innovative interpretation of Stravinskys radical, repetitive, ritualistic rhythms.
One must have seen the poetic virtuosity of this visual art which is fragmenting, reproducing and atomizing the virtualized 3-D body of the dancer ...
The experience is mind-altering.
THE INDEPENDENT – London
Roaring success in the hall, cheers by the approx. 8000 viewers and listeners in the Danube park also wearing 3D glasses.
DER STANDARD – Vienna
The Rite of Spring - CBSO and Julia Mach, at Symphony Hall, Birmingham
So much could have gone wrong with the mind-blowing technology: several stereoscopic cameras focusing from various angles upon one lone dancer in the corner of the stage; computer software which instantly transmuted the live images and projected them onto a huge screen behind an equally huge orchestra, cramped on a necessarily reduced platform; and all kinds of other gremlins could have crept in.
But they didn’t. This extraordinary presentation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was a total triumph, from the confident orchestral opening by the CBSO under the clear direction of Ilan Volkov (what fabulous delivery by Gretha Tuls of that notorious high bassoon solo!), through the mesmerically controlled movements of dancer Julia Mach, and the brilliant realisation of his own choreography by the concept-designer and artistic director Klaus Obermaier.
Through our 3D spectacles we flinched as images derived from Mach’s movements seemed to fling themselves directly into our faces, and all the time there was the presence of growth and regeneration: Mach’s arms and fingers elongating into plant-like tendrils; her gradual emergence from a womb-enclosed foetal position; her lower legs becoming a forest moving into life; shattered shards of her body spinning and glittering like a myriad nebulae in a vast universe.
Interestingly, the concluding visceral and orgiastic Danse Sacrale didn’t require as much of the dancer as more conventional choreographies do. Mach struck poses, stretched her body and performed impressive gymnastic feats, while the technology showed us pulsating images of someone dancing herself to death.
I saw the early performance. To think the CBSO, Volkov, all the technicians and the formidable Mach were going to have to go through it all again an hour later...
Christopher Morley, 25 April 2011
Dance the Hexadecimal Code
... One must have seen the poetic virtuosity of this visual art which is fragmenting, reproducing and atomizing the virtualized 3-D body of the dancer ...
Tom R. Schulz, 15 April 2011
Stravinsky in Cyberspace
Astonishing: digital wizardry projects dancer Julia Mach into the audience (5 stars by Barry Millington and reader rating)
Marin Alsop conducts an innovative interpretation of Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring in which digital artist Klaus Obermaier's cyber choreography dramatically reshapes dancer Julia Mach's body.
Mixed-media projects involving music, visuals, choreography and lighting are all the rage. Far too often the latter elements are arbitrarily bolted on but Klaus Obermaier's conception of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring uses digital wizardry in an astonishingly original and imaginative way.
His dancer, the agile, willowy Julia Mach, disports herself in a specially constructed black space to the side of the stage. Her movements are projected by stereo cameras and a sophisticated computer system onto a giant central screen.
The three-dimensional area created, with the aid of spectacles handed out to each member of the audience, is a virtual reality space, allowing the most extraordinary interplay between reality and fantasy, between the corporeal dancer and various disembodied simulacra.
So realistic is the effect of the magic glasses that the stage seems to stretch out right from the screen to a point inches from our nose. In Spring Rounds, an elongated image of the dancer, arms outstretched in supplication, crawled closer and closer until you felt that if you reached out, you could touch her.
In the following Ritual of the Rival Tribes, the floor gyrated like an oversprung trampoline, catapulting the dancer - whose "real" body was barely moving - in a gymnastic frenzy that perfectly matched the heavy accents and rapid changes of metre.
To replicate the convulsions of the Dance of the Earth, Obermaier and his team (Ars Electronica Futurelab) fragmented the projected forms to resemble asteroids hurtling in space. That cosmic imagery was picked up in Part 2 with first particles floating in the air like the Milky Way, then multiple holograms of the dancer spinning through space.
Marin Alsop brought a tender, lyrical touch to this sequence, while elsewhere she galvanised the LPO into suitably feverish spasms whose clarity of articulation was palpably though not ruinously compromised by the amount of fabric in evidence.
Varèse's Arcana in the first half, with its Stravinskian references, had been similarly visceral: a stark contrast to the tedious insipidities of Glass's Prelude from Akhnaten.
This benchmark-setting re-creation of the Rite of Spring is repeated tonight, but it's returns only.
EVENING STANDARD - London
By Barry Millington, 27 June 2007
A dazzling, interactive interpretation takes
'The Rite of Spring' into another dimension
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the world's first interactive combination of a symphony orchestra, a dancer and real-time generated stereoscopic projections. For almost two decades, Klaus Obermaier, the Austrian digital artist, has been tinkering with interactive technology in dance, theatre and new media, but this is his grandest project to date: a radical, "live" interpretation of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.
Dance re-interpretations of The Rite are legion - I've seen maybe a dozen in the past five years - but none has seized the contemporary zeitgeist as imaginatively as this one, while remaining true, in many respects, to the original's emotional core. To start with, the physical arrangement in the Festival Hall is intriguing. Two-thirds of the platform is taken up by the orchestra, overhung by a vast screen that reaches to the ceiling. To the right is an open-sided box of shiny grey fabric, within which a single dancer - Julia Mach - performs movements that generate what appears on the screen.
The audience is equipped with stereoscopic glasses - an update on 3D specs - while the orchestra is wired up to 32 microphones, to enable musical motifs and even individual instruments to influence those same forms on the screen.
So much for the spec. The experience is mind-altering. From the moment the high, strange bassoon opens with its warbling solo call, we enter an unknown landscape. The flesh-and-blood Mach - a 21st-century sylph with her long pale limbs and white, elfin-cropped hair - is merely walking slowly around her small grey square, carving shapes in the air with her hand.
These shapes instantly morph into scarlet hieroglyphs on the screen, which circle the virtual Julia Mach in a devilish dance, encroaching and retreating in a menacing hokey-cokey, then whirl around her like a funfair wall of death, and finally fly out wide into the auditorium to flash past our faces. However much you understand about 3D technology, you find yourself flinching to avoid them.
This is Stravinsky's Chosen Maiden, all right, marooned in hostile territory, struggling to keep upright as her virtual floor bucks and rolls like an ocean swell. The visual effects are not slavishly tied to what happens in the music, but they're never less than dynamically apt.
In the score's second half - the human sacrifice section in the original - Obermaier seems to abandon planet Earth and head for outer space, increasingly fragmenting and dehumanising Mach's image until it ricochets round the black void like a shower of speeding meteorites. In the final, giddying dance to the death, she literally goes to pieces, dematerialising into infinity.
The pity is that, agape at the visuals, you don't give the music the attention it deserves. The LPO's playing, under the spunky direction of Marin Alsop, was technically and texturally superlative, yet even at its most tumultuous I was only partially aware of its details: proof if any were needed that the sense of sight dominates the other senses whenever it can. Obermaier hopes that his Rite will stimulate questions about "authenticity of experience" in modern life. However, I'm not so sure. But, that doesn't detract from his dazzling achievement.
Walt Disney, whose Fantasia contains an inspired response to Rite, would surely have approved.
THE INDEPENDENT - London
By Jenny Gilbert, 1 July 2007
Saturday night at the National Concert Hall was all about new worlds — and the wonderful mind of Austrian digital artist/choreographer Klaus Obermaier.
His Le Sacre du Printemps — Interactive 3D Media Dance had dancer Julia Mach moving around a box set to the side of the orchestra as her avatar danced on the screen suspended above the heads of the National Symphony Orchestra, and thanks to 3D glasses, out into the space above the audience. One woman in front of me reached out to try and touch Mach’s hand as it floated toward her.
With her cap of white-blonde hair, pale skin and champagne colored shift, Mach was both a goddess and the perfect sacrificial
victim for Sacre. Her long legs and arms morphed into even longer tentacles, or kept her balanced as she rode a grid through waves and earthquake rolls. Sometimes she moved as if playing a solitary game of twister, but then the fun ended as she crawled on her knees and elbows, one arm stretching out into space in a mute appeal for help. When her virtual world exploded, her avatar was left curled up in tight ball amid a swirling asteroid belt — until you realize that each asteroid was a small curled Mach.
From the beauty of an exploding galaxy, Mach fragmented into a collection of legs and feet for the sacrificial section of Sacre — with a foot at either end of each leg, then just the feet.
Obermaier will be back in Taipei at the National Theater in early May with Apparition. I can’t wait to see that world.
Diane Baker, 30 March 2009
Storm of Applause at the Brucknerhaus
Klaus Obermaier's visualization of Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du Printemps" caused jubilation at the classical sound cloud of the Linzer Brucknerfest.
Yesterday evening the Linzer Brucknerfest started with a visual-acoustic bang. This 3D visualisation not only showed a convincing staging of "Le Scare du Printemps" but also established a unique trademark for Linz.
Welcome to the fascinating fusion of terrific orchestra art with perfectly dosed power of images and excellent dance performance. Welcome to the cheered, digitally visualized classical sound cloud for the start of the Linzer Brucknerfest 2006. [...]
The painter, choreograph and musician made an intelligent decision for his visualization: Not to load the anyway gigantic sound world of Stravinsky with further opulence. His concentrated visual accents carry clenched intensity, without overcharging. Obermaier does not illustrate, his picture world merges with the music and at the same time sets strong counterpoints.
A surprising dialog, which obtains its digital impulses from the dance (thrilling body work by Julia Mach) and from the most concentrated and stimulated performance of the Bruckner Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies.
A milestone in the history of digital arts.
Irene Judmayer, 12 September 2006
Brilliant Prelude to the Brucknerfest in Linz
]...] The opening concert, at the same time the "classical" sound cloud, was in several aspects a singular event.
The internationally successful media and light artist Klaus Obermaier together with the team of the AEC Futurelab under Horst Hoertner and the outstanding dancer Julia Mach presented a 3D visualization, which did not only open new dimensions because of the live-interaction with a human figure, but also understood to use the medium-specific peculiarities in the combination of technology and aesthetics.
Dennis Russell Davis and Klaus Obermaier proved to be congenial partners, which fully mastered the specific strengths of their particular medium. None as illustrator of the other one, but independent, yet brilliant co-ordinated media worlds with Julia Mach as interface.
Roaring success in the hall, cheers by the approx. 8000 viewers and listeners in the Danube park also wearing 3D glasses.
Reinhard Kannonier, 14 September 2006
Yesterday, I was seduced at the Royal Festival Hall: partly by the refreshed vibrancy of its fifties charm, redolent of post-war optimism in a world to be made better by scientific and artistic advancement; but mostly by the gorgeous, gigantic ghostly figure that stepped out of a screen and stretched across the huge void above the auditorium to virtually caress my cheek. Honest Doc, I swear Im not making it up!
This giant woman was dressed in an ethereal, bronzed slip with bleached blonde short hair, looking every inch an Amazonian Tinkerbell, but flying without wings. She was the virtual reality image of Austrian dancer, Julia Mach, recreated in a three-dimensional envelope which breathed a new, twenty-first century life into Stravinskys The Rite of Spring.
This version caused no riot as the original did on its Parisian premiere some 94 years ago, but it was nonetheless a stunning, intense and entirely innovative interpretation of Stravinskys radical, repetitive, ritualistic rhythms. If it were possible to dislike the optical trickery that bombarded the brain, with hundreds of 3D images bouncing around the auditorium, then listening to The Rite of Spring delivered in the refurbished and acoustically enhanced, wood-panelled glory of the RFH by the wonderful LPO directed by acclaimed Conductor, Marin Alsop was, in itself, a life-affirming experience.
This wonderful aural experience merely set the scene for Klaus Obermaiers psychadelic digital artistry, which referenced The Matrix films, Star Trek and the Asteroids and Space Invaders games that wasted so much of my ill-spent youth. This incredible technology was, however, given meaning and substance through the even more astonishing range of movement capability by one human dancer. The virtual reality and the orchestral sounds were superb, but I was often tempted to bypass the sunglasses, seduced into watching the delightful, human reality of Julia Mach dancing alone at the side of the stage.
Graham Watts, June 2007
Klaus Obermaier – Rites
As the London Philarmonic Orchestra starts playing Rites of Spring, Mach cuts the air in strong moves that are precise, elegant and clear. Huge scarlet runes with the texture of thin-sliced magma appear evolve from above. Based on Based on Glagolitsa (the oldest known Slavic alphabet) their genesis in stunning 3D reflects both movement and orientation of the dancer below.
With white-blond hair, perfect lines and strong long legs on a body that show the discipline of her dance, Mach appears on the screen-stage. Already the perfect representation of a hackers dream, she is now surrounded by circling symbols of her own creation. A Tron-like lattice appears on the virtual expanse above us. Writhing, she circles hands and arms around her head and the tormented images unravel as they travel. As her moves become calmer so does the movement of unravelled runes until they resemble dentritic strands, circling, dome like around her prone, curled body.
With cameras following Mach and microphones placed throughout the orchestra and are transformed into stereoscopic projections we use special glasses to perceive. Microphones in the orchestra and cameras trained on the dancer in her set synthesise an enormous 3D stage. The resulting images extend above us, well behind the orchestra and so far into the audience that we cant help but be drawn in. Meanwhile dissolution of the virtual body of Julia Mach, the spontaneous generation and movement of pairs of body parts conjoined to their own reflections and the constant comparison of the fully fleshed being and her virtual avatars force a continuous re-evaluation of perceptions.
Its not possible to describe it all without sounding geeky and technical but the performance itself is not. Were in an era where the dividing lines between real and virtual, science and spin and fact and fiction are unclear. This engaging exploration of boundaries is well worth the experience and resulted in the longest ovation I can remember for years.
Carole Edrich, June 2007
Digital-age dance brings another dimension to Stravinsky's classic
After nearly a century, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring still sounds like the blazing "open sesame" of modern music. But heard in conjunction with the ballet, it can seem diminished. All those stamping primitives can seem dated, a reminder of the vogue for primitivism among chic Parisians of a different era.
Stravinsky himself preferred it as a concert piece, but the exuberant physical energy of the Rite, coupled with its classic status, makes it sorely tempting to choreographers.
Many try to re-imagine the Rite in a way that strips away the primitive trappings, but none yanks the piece into the digital era with such forthright imaginative boldness as this one, created by digital artist and choreographer Klaus Obermaier.
Two-thirds of the stage was taken up by the orchestra; to the right was a small, square dance space cordoned off with grey canvas; and above us was an immense video screen.
As the dancer Julia Mach started to gyrate and twist in response to the music, her image appeared on the screen, surrounded by strange red shapes conjured up by the digital wizardry of Ars Electronica Futurelab.
Thanks to the stereo specs we were given, these loomed out from the screen in menacing 3D. As they started to whirl round the fragile figure of the dancer, one got the sense that she was threatened by something just as implacable as the bearded elders of the original ballet, who wanted the girl to dance herself to death.
Here one got the sense of a dancer assailed by nameless horrors, perhaps within her own head. She seemed marooned in a vast and bewildering universe. The "floor" beneath her stretched away to infinity, and it often bucked and heaved without warning.
For company in this strange world, she had only refracted, digitally created images of her own self, tumbling across the screen like leaves, or weirdly cut up and distorted. In the final tumultuous Danse Sacrale, it wasn't the dancer who went into a frenzy, it was the images, cascading away into infinity at giddying speed.
Obermaier says that our problem now is learning to live in a virtual world; his Rite may not offer any answers, but it certainly gives us a vivid sense of its dangers. His spectacle was wonderfully entrancing and disturbing, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, in this and in music by Varèse and Philip Glass, played like a dream.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH - London
Ivan Hewett, 28 June 2007
Almost 100 years ago, Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring changed the way we listen to music. In the 21st century, Klaus Obermaier, the Austrian digital artist, wants to change the way we watch dance.
Rites, his radical interpretation of The Rite of Spring, presented in collaboration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is Stravinsky for the Matrix generation. Using a single dancer – the compelling Julia Mach – and the magic of computers to generate live stereoscopic images, Obermaier conjures a world where the real and the virtual intermingle. With the help of 3D glasses and a giant screen hovering over the orchestra, the audience is transported to a place where images of Mach leap out before our very eyes, taunting us to touch them.
Mach is both real and unreal, depending on whether you watch her performing live off to one side of the stage, or refracted and manipulated on screen, which is where all the fun is to be had. In her most corporeal representation, she seems to stalk us like a wild beast, too strong to be a sacrificial victim yet woman enough to arouse our compassion. At her most abstract she is nothing more than a clever digital concept.
The Matrix-like effects are truly dazzling: Mach’s arms morphing into a threat of tentacles, her body riding an undulating grid like a surfer. In the second half (the sacrificial dance) Obermaier seems to abandon Earth and head for outer space. This is the point at which Mach’s presence is gradually dehumanised in favour of colourful fireworks leading, presumably, to the black hole of her demise. It’s also the point at which Obermaier’s imaginative digital ballet descends into generic video game wizardry. Still, the real thrill was hearing this majestic score played with such vigour and immediacy. [...]
THE TIMES - London
By Debra Craine, 28 June 2007
At illusion´s door
I put on the glasses, which take me into Obermaier’s three-dimensional visions. Only after a while there are first maroon spots sparkling on the huge screen hanged over the orchestra. They quickly change into a blood-red creepers girding the dancer’s body (on the dancer’s body). Actually – not the body itself, but it’s virtual equivalent. Julia Mach is dancing in the corner of the stage, on the 5x5m piece of the floor designated by the black curtain. I can perfectly see each gesture, each movement of her body. But I am not looking at her too long, I am rather focusing on the screen, on the battle between the dancer and the creepers, on the attempt to break free from these virtual lianes. I am watching an improved version of the dancer on the screen: here the body can change, lengthen, mutate, her arms can easily embrace me (although I’m sitting in the fifteenth line). At the moment the artist’s head comes close to my face. If it was real, I could touch it. I should feel her breath. I do not.
In the next sequence the ground she was dancing on, begins to shake, there are hills arising. I have the impression as if several people were holding and shaking the black carpet divided into squares. The dancer is trying to keep the balance and for the moment she manages to do it. After that she disappears in the space. Suddenly I see her splitting into several clones – that awakes my fright. They keep on moving round clockwise and because of that they are losing their individuality. All this recalls the threads from the newest Michel Houellebecq’s novel: “The Possibility of an Island”, where the society became disintegrated: a man dies and his place is immediately taken by a clone with a consecutive number. Passions, feelings, needs are reduced to a minimum. The world according to Houellebecq/Obermaier is monstrous and horrifying to the core.
In the next scene instead of the dancer I can see arms and legs moving on the virtual stage, caricatured in the mirror image. Are these people of the future? Or maybe that is just a mockery of the audience and critics, who only pay attention to a proper position of arms and legs during the ballet performance. There are even more interpretative mysteries in “The Rite of Spring”. We have to deal with the artist, who does not give unambiguous, simple answers, but forces the audience to make an intellectual effort. However, Obermaier’s art is the art for everyone. The audience can lounge in the armchair and admire the beauty of the images. People can also interpret them, divide, add and create a composition.
All the time Obermaier’s visions follow the music, they are dependent on it. It is not a free interpretation, it is not a variation on “The Rite of Spring”. Stravinsky’s music inspires the choreographer to the new ideas. At the end – when the music culminates – the dancer’s body splits, there are specks flying in the hall.
“The Rite of Spring”, which was made up (that is the best word) by Klaus Obermaier, ended as fast as it had begun. The last tones resounded, the screen faded, the light was turned on, I took off my glasses. I quickly realized that writing about this performance will be a hard nut to crack. It is easy to get into the world of magic created by the director. I do admit that I was completely absorbed into the spectacle. During more than half an hour I behaved like a child – I was a gullible spectator. I allowed somebody to deceive me. To judge by the thunder of applause, Obermaier managed to charm majority of the audience in Austria. In his interpretation of “The Rite of Spring” the virtual dancer is alone and remains alone in the finale – the choreographer stripped the action of the crowd scenes. The director brought all the worries to light – he showed troubles, which usually are ingenuously hidden. He diagnosed that we are living in the civilization that is deprived of the contact with other people, that is based on meeting man’s demands and on individuality. This is the civilization, where a human being is stuck between media and reality. The body and its message vary diametrically. The facts are more and more frequently undermined, they vanish in emptiness.
After the performance, in contradiction to the incidents after the Parisian première in 1913, there were no disturbances in Linz. I heard snatches of loud conversation; somebody, who was leaving, said: “Obermaier… it is good to have him”.
TEATR 11/2006 (Poland)
Bartek Miernik, November 2006
Stravinsky's music as choreographer
[...] Musical motives and tempi influence the movement of the dancer in the virtual space - in such a way the music itself indirectly becomes the choreographer! [...]
The unreserved readiness of making music and disciplined sound culture of the Bruckner Orchestra, in accordance with the expressive movement art of the dancer Julia Mach as well as the astonishing choreography and visualization ideas of Klaus Obermaier, turned the evening into an extravagant optimal experience.
BS/MH, 12 September 2006
Blood-red color streaks – Linzer Brucknerfest began with sound clouds in 3D
[...] In the evening the eagerly-awaited visual-acoustic bombshell happened with the 'classical sound cloud', a very much succeeded visualization of Strawinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps. [...]
Obermaier's interactive visual worlds aroused storms of applause.
Ulrich Alberts, 12 September 2006
Classical sound cloud inspires masses
10,000 visitors of the classical sound cloud received with cheers the birth of a new concert era in and before the Brucknerhaus. [...]
With the moment, when Julia Mach entered the stage and set its first characters into the virtual space, floating over the visitors in the Danube park and merged with the music, the audience was won. Klaus Obermaier's 3D-staging pulled all into its spell. The choreography and the virtual realization visualized the topic of sacrifice of the SACRE in a quality, which left the visitors shivering. The audience thanked with standing ovations. With this performance all involved parties originated a new era in the concert halls.
Karin Friedl, 12 September 2006