It's difficult to know what shocked Parisian audiences more when The Rite of Spring caused a near riot at its 1913 première: was it Stravinsky's music – pounding dissonances and irregular rhythms – or Nijinsky's choreography? A century on, the music still has the power to shock, how ever many times I hear it in concert. Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer's reconstruction of the original choreography failed to have the same impact when I saw it performed by the Mariinsky Ballet in 2003. For the 2013 centenary, the Mariinsky, together with Sasha Waltz and Guests, commissioned a new version – Sacre – choreographed by Sasha Waltz and presented in a double-Rite evening in Paris which paired it with the reconstruction of the original ballet. I was bowled over both times I saw this new version when Sasha Waltz and Guests presented the UK première at Sadler's Wells last autumn. In Cardiff this weekend, the Mariinsky reclaimed Sacre as part of a less than generous double bill alongside Alexei Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH.

<i>Sacre</i> © Natasha Razina
Sacre
© Natasha Razina

Waltz's Sacre bursts with primal energy to rival Stravinsky's score. There are no “knock-kneed and braided lolitas”, as the composer described the original ballet. A pile of earth is at the centre of a bare stage as couples emerge from their winter hibernation. Waltz often arranges her dancers in three groups which violently break off into different combinations. “The Augurs of Spring” sees members of each group act as a whole, jerking heads and juddering movements propelling them across the stage. The choreography throbs with sexual tension, the dancers collapsing in a writhing, knotted mass at the end of Part 1.

In Sasha Waltz and Guests' performance, you were never quite sure which female dancer was intended as the Chosen One until she was made to don a purple robe. Here, the body language of Ekaterina Kondaurova signalled that she knew her fate much earlier on. Her final solo – for which she wore the purple dress rather than dance it stark naked – finds her collapsing, then repeatedly dragging herself to her feet again. Kondaurova expressed the horror of the sacrificial victim eloquently. A thin grey spike (Waltz's company opted for bloody scarlet) gradually descends from the flies during the course of the work, a symbol of penetration, eventually piercing the stage as the Chosen One collapses.

Ekaterina Kondaurova in <i>Sacre</i> © Natasha Razina
Ekaterina Kondaurova in Sacre
© Natasha Razina

While not quite as thrilling as the performance by Waltz's own company, the Mariinsky had the advantage of boasting a live orchestra. Hearing the bassoon wail its hymn to spring and the bass clarinet issue its sinister gurgle from the Cardiff pit beats any taped recording, especially when you feel the thud of the bass drum practically pulse through your veins. The indefatigable Valery Gergiev conducted. Earlier in the day he had led a family concert which paired a brusque Nutcracker Suite with a faltering account of Peter and the Wolf, in which Uncle Valery proved not to be the cuddliest of storytellers. Combining conducting with narrating wasn't wise. In Sacre, however, Gergiev unleashed a tempest of sound.

Svetlana Ivanova and Konstantin Zverev in <i>Concerto DSCH</i> © Natasha Razina
Svetlana Ivanova and Konstantin Zverev in Concerto DSCH
© Natasha Razina
Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH (2008), which opened the double bill, is the complete antithesis of Sacre. Created for New York City Ballet, it is exuberant, surprising and exhilarating, combining classical elegance with Balanchine-esque freshness. The title references the musical motif DSCH, an abbreviation of Shostakovich's name spelled out in German musical notation (D, E flat, C, B) which was the composer's monogram, even though it's not used in the Piano Concerto no. 2 which forms the ballet's score. The perky first movement casts an insouciant air of Soviet optimism as a trio of dancers – two male, one female – weave in and out of the action. Filipp Stepin and Kimin Kim fizzed across the stage like corks exploding from a champagne bottle, the playful Nadezhda Bataeva joining them in off-balance accents and quirky partnering.

Vladimir Rumyantsev skittered through Shostakovich's percussive piano writing with glee in the outer movements, whilst adding tender delicacy to the Andante. This second movement is a melting pas de deux of naïve beauty, full of skimming lifts and lacy bourrés. Svetlana Ivanova brought cool, clinical grace to the pairing, Konstantin Zverev partnering her stylishly. And before you have time to draw a wistful sigh, the corps de ballet and the mischievous trio return for the upbeat finale. Concerto DSCH proved the perfect show opener – a zinging cocktail before the bitter vodka shot of Sacre.