“Rite of Spring”
Tonight, 8 p.m.
At the Power Center

Algeria is a country of contradictions, one where lush forests line the Mediterranean coastline while the harsh, expansive desert in the south lies uninhabited. The country’s vast beauty and tranquility contrasts its violent past and present.

Instead of ignoring his country’s political situations, Heddy Maalem, the artistic director of Compagnie Heddy Maalem, uses his French and Algerian descent as an inspiration for his art.

“Perhaps to be an artist was the only solution to survive the conflict inside of me and to express it in a positive way,” Maalem said.

Maalem’s dance group will be presenting “The Rite of Spring,” an hour-long piece that’s set to the score of the same title by Stravinsky. Prior to Maalem’s version, countless interpretations — in styles such as ballet and hip hop — have been based on the story of an ancient Pagan ritual in which a virgin is sacrificed.

Maalem’s “Rite of Spring” builds upon the idea of primitivism and sacrifice while incorporating today’s world issues. While spending time in Lagos, Nigeria, Maalem was inspired by the city’s hustle and bustle. The New York Times describes the work as “a fleeting glimpse of a primal force,” which reflects Maalem’s description of the city as “a mix between disaster and hope.”

Maalem works with a variety of different dancers for each of his works. He chose 14 dancers from the western parts of Africa for “The Rite of Spring” because they have experienced similar political and social struggles in their own countries, such as Mali, Senegal and Benin.

Documentary director Benoît Dervaux and music composer Benoît De Clerck are both friends of Maalem who worked closely with him to present an innovative take on “The Rite of Spring” ‘s original score and dance. Maalem’s take on the “The Rite of Spring” differs from past interpretations because it’s a testament to modernity that demonstrates shared cultural experiences.

Compagnie Heddy Maalem will perform at the Power Center on Wednesday at 8 p.m. It’s accompanied by the Arts & Eats package. By purchasing an Arts & Eats ticket, students can buy a ticket for $15 verses $35 for regularly priced ticket, eat pizza at the Alumni Center, and attend a brief talk prior to the show.

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