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Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012
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Author:  David [ Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:48 am ]
Post subject:  Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012


Sadler’s Wells and the Barbican Centre have announced advance details of a mammoth Pina Bausch season to take place in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Between 6 June and 9 July no fewer than ten of Bausch's works (yes, TEN!) will be performed by Tanztheater Wuppertaal. Seven of the 10 works are UK Premieres.

Called "World Cities 2012" the season is the first ever continuous season of productions by the late Pina Bausch and her company. Starting in 1986, Bausch created a series of works, each made at the invitation of a city. Living in each city for a period, her company would then return to Wuppertal to create a new work inspired by their visit. The result is a sort of global travelogue exploring India, Brazil, Palermo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Budapest, Istanbul, Santiago de Chile, Rome and Japan.

Tickets for the whole season of works are on sale from Monday 9 May 2011 via / 0844 412 4300 and / 0845 120 7550. Six works will show at Sadler’s Wells and four at the Barbican.

The works to be danced are:
Viktor (Rome, 1986)
Nur Du (Only You) (Los Angeles, 1996), UK premiere
…como el musguito en la piedra, ay si si si…(Santiago de Chile, 2009), UK premiere
Bamboo Blues (India,2007), UK premiere
Der Fenzterputzer (The Window Washer) (Hong Kong, 1997), UK premiere
Ten Chi (Japan, 2004), UK premiere
Néfés (Istanbul, 2003), UK premiere
Água (Brazil, 2001)
Palermo, Palermo (Palermo, 1989)
Wiesenland (Budapest, 2000), UK premiere

Meanwhile, from 22-28 April 2011 the Barbican will be showing acclaimed director Wim Wenders' unique documentary project, in which he experiments with new film technology to capture the process of dance on film, creating a benchmark for 3D cinema.

Author:  David [ Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: World Cities 2012

Performance dates and venues as follows:

Viktor (1986)
Wednesday 6 & Thursday 7 June 2012, Sadler’s Wells
The first coproduction of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch with Teatro Argentina and the City of Rome.

Nur Du (Only You) (1996)
UK premiere
Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 June, Barbican
A co-production with the University of California in Los Angeles, Arizona State University, University of California, Berkeley , University of Texas in Austin, Darlene Neel Presentations, Rena Shagan Associates and The Music Centre inc.

…como el musguito en la piedra, ay si si si… (2009)
UK premiere
Tuesday 12 & Wednesday 13 June, Sadler’s Wells
A co-production with the Festival International de Teatro Santiago a Mil in Chile with the support of the Goethe Institute Chile, in collaboration with Andres Neumann International.

Bamboo Blues (2007)
UK premiere
Friday 15 & Saturday 16 June, Barbican
A co-production with the Goethe Institutes in India.

Der Fensterputzer (The Window Washer) (1997)
UK premiere
Monday 18 & Tuesday 19 June, Sadler’s Wells
A co-production with the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society and the Goethe Institute Hong Kong.

Ten Chi (2004)
UK premiere
Thursday 21& Friday 22 June, Barbican
A co-production with Saitama Prefecture, Saitama Arts Foundation and Nippon Cultural Center, Japan.

Néfés (2003)
UK premiere
Sunday 24 & Monday 25 June, Sadler’s Wells
A co-production with the International Theatre Festival Istanbul and the Istanbul Foundation for Arts and Culture.

Água (2001)
Thursday 28 & Friday 29 June, Barbican
Aco-production with the Goethe institute Sao Paulo, Brazil and Emilio Kalil.

Palermo Palermo (1989)
Sunday 1 & Monday 2 July, Sadler’s Wells
A co-production with Teatro Biondo Stabile / Palermo and the City of Palermo, in collaboration with Andres Neumann International.

Wiesenland (2000)
UK premiere
Sunday 8 & Monday 9 July, Sadler’s Wells
A co-production with the Goethe Institute Budapest and Théâtre de la Ville, Paris.

Author:  David [ Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

London's Pina-fest is nearly here

Just a few days to go now before London's "Pina-fest" gets underway. Ten works in a month. If anyone is thinking of turning up on the off-chance of getting a ticket, be warned, it's returns only as everything has been sold out for months.

You will, though be able to read the thoughts of our London team of writers on every pieces right here.

Author:  David [ Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; June 6, 2012

David Mead

Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Viktor. Photo Laszlo Szito.jpg
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Viktor. Photo Laszlo Szito.jpg [ 34.25 KiB | Viewed 13909 times ]

After much anticipation, London’s four-week ten-work Pina Bausch World Cities season opened last night at a packed Sadler’s Wells. Like all of the works in the season, Viktor is about a city, in this case Rome. For me, it is always the overall mood and impression given by a city and its people that stick in the mind more than specific sights. That is certainly true here. The only overt reference to the physical city are sanpietrini, the cube-shaped cobbles that form the surface of many of Rome’s streets, which at the beginning and from time to time thereafter, are carried on by a dancers. Do the stones represent baggage of some description? As with most things Bausch, she is not letting on; that is for us to decide.

“Viktor” is full of trademark Bausch symbols and themes: a huge set that fills the stage, men in suits, ladies in high heels and dresses, repetition, cross dressing, children’s games, interaction with the audience, humiliation…but it’s also a piece that makes numerous references to death. Indeed, the whole thing seems to be set inside a mass grave, the back and sides of the stage being dominated by 20 feet high mud walls, from the top of which a grave-digger slowly earth onto the floor below throughout.

There are plenty more references to mortality. A man marries a pair of corpses as they lie prone on the ground, physically nodding their heads so they can say ‘I do’, manipulating their hands to so they appear to put rings on fingers, finally turning them so they can kiss. Alongside this, a woman lays on a carpet, which is then rolled up and carried off. Later, one of the cast recounts a fairy tale in which a little girl is the sole survivor on earth, and so who travels to the moon and the sun and the stars, to find each equally rotten or lifeless.

There is lots of comment about the way men treat women, although it should be noted that the women rarely fight back. They are carried and treated like mannequins. There is plenty of groping. One dancer is turned into a human classical fountain, her mouth repeatedly filled with water, which she then spurts, two men showering in the resulting spray. But sometimes it is self-inflicted, as in a comment on dance when a woman wraps raw meet around her toes, beef we are told, and stuffs her feet into ballet shoes and dances a classical solo on pointe; or maybe she is doing it for the men.

Although bleakness and desolation run through the piece, it has the effect of making the lighter moments even more striking. Playful or humorous moments do not exactly abound, but when they are worth waiting for. At one point, a dancer toys with a man sitting in a chair, repeatedly lifting her thin blue dress over his head, giggling like a child playing a game. One hilarious scene features three of the most slovenly waitresses you have ever seen, cigarettes drooping from their mouths, all hunched over with back problems, and who see their customer as an inconvenience. They make those in the famous Monty Python sketch look decidedly classy!

The second half is dominated by a hooded, hunched figure wrapped in black and carrying a staff that haunts the stage, and who at one point conducts a hilarious ballet class taught entirely while seated, and in which instructions are given with an uncaring, dismissive, bored wave of the arm. Another comment on how Bausch saw classical theatre dance, perhaps.
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Viktor. Photo Maarten Vanden Abeele.jpg
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Viktor. Photo Maarten Vanden Abeele.jpg [ 34.71 KiB | Viewed 13909 times ]

There are beautiful moments too, most notably when the women take it in turns to play on gymnastics rings to The Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight”, their long evening dresses billowing as they swing back and forth. In fact, the music often seemed very important, casting a spell in even moments of near stillness. The Tchaikovsky at the beginning and end, when much of action is reprised briefly, particularly stood out.

In all this, there’s not really much of what most people would recognise as dance, although when it does come along it is very good. Often it comes in large, complex and gestural dance sequences, always in near perfect unison. Overall, though, there is a lot more theater than tanz, if you see what I mean.

There is so, so much else, not least two sheep and an auction in which various accoutrements are sold off, including three small dogs. Well, you can’t take them with you, can you? A group of old men sit around a table talking, ignoring everything else going on. A couple engage in foreplay while smoking, a child taking sneaky unseen puffs, both memories of Bausch’s parents’ café as much as Rome, I feel sure. As always Bausch never passes opinion. She simply observes.

At almost three and a half hours including the interval, “Viktor” is long. I can quite imagine it would be hard going for many, with some finding it tedious in the extreme. Indeed, I’m not sure I would want it sit through it often. But it does cast a spell, and slowly but surely pulls you in.

Author:  David [ Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

A few more views on "Viktor"...

Ismene Brown in The ArtsDesk

Judith Mackrell in The Guardian

Sarah Crompton in The Daily Telegraph

Zoe Anderson in The Independent

Author:  David [ Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

‘Nur Du’
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch
Barbican Theatre, London; June 9, 2012

David Mead

Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Nur Du. Photo Ursula Kaufmann.jpg
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Nur Du. Photo Ursula Kaufmann.jpg [ 28.71 KiB | Viewed 13858 times ]

After the opening stop in Rome, the World Cities season took us on a transatlantic foray to the American West. “Nur Du” came about following a mid 1990s invitation from the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles, Arizona State University at Tempe, and the University of Texas at Austin, along with a couple of promoters, to visit and make a piece based on her impressions. Like most of her works from that period, it has a rather brighter outlook than many of her earlier creations, and certainly was in stark contrast to the darkness of “Viktor”.

The setting yells California. The stage is framed by eight giant sequoia. It suggests an Eden. The people within it, though, are anything but perfect. In their slinky 1950s gowns designed by Marion Cito, the women seem to be cast offs from Hollywood, or maybe striving to be part of Hollywood; take your pick. An obsession with appearance is a recurring theme as they aspire to be, or to remain, beautiful.

The men, who in contrast are all in casual slacks and jackets, are not spared either. Man’s cruelty puts in its usual appearance. One cuts up an apple for his lover but then hands her the core before skipping off. Another suspends a woman by her hair. A third slaps a woman for no apparent reason. It’s not all like that, though. Clichéd stereotypes abound. There is the quite hilarious and most girly male hairdresser ever seen. One man delivers a great collage of well-known Hollywood quotes that are put together so cleverly that they almost make sense. There are guys working out, playing with a basketball and skating, the latter using empty water bottles on the feet rather than the real thing. Money and ownership isn’t forgotten as a property magnate gazes at the forest and proudly tells us that “As far as you can see, all of this is mine!”
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Nur Du. Photo Bettina Stöß.jpg
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in Nur Du. Photo Bettina Stöß.jpg [ 38.37 KiB | Viewed 13858 times ]

In general, though, the focus is on the women in both the comedy and the drama. All the time there is a sense that people are shallow and that much of what we see is superficial. The point was made right at the beginning when one of the women says “Can you imagine that under these clothes I am completely naked?” immediately followed by, “Can you imagine that under your clothes you are all completely naked?”, a question that I’m sure set many of an audience member’s imagination running. Later, another has an instant transformation as a pair of balloons is stuffed down her chest and a blonde wig put on her head.

A repeated idea sees the women hitch up their skirts or drop their tops to reveal their breasts. They also get wrapped in plastic like flowers, and painted and drawn upon. Yet they always come back for more. A repeated scene sees one screaming, “He's got me!”, running onto the stage in terror. Then, looking into the wings, she cries, “No, he's not got me!” Elsewhere, Aida Vainieri screeches like a cat as she licks out a food container, pressing her face against the transparent plastic. She later has a tantrum any infant would be proud of when her attempts to put lipstick on go all awry. Of the comedy, the best was surely Julie Anne Stanzak’s turn as a manically overenthusiastic cheerleader.

There is plenty of dance too, much of it in the form of male solos, the men being given the chance to show off just how lithe they can be. They are all excellent. They eat up the space, their lithe dance full of graceful yet fast-moving articulated arms that circle and whirl, and precise hand gestures. The ensemble dances are worth waiting for though. To the song “Sugar in the Morning”, a line of ladies flip their heads in time to the beat of the music Busby Berkely-like. As if commenting on the uniformity of Hollywood musical gloss was not enough, when the line “Be my little sugar…” comes along, one licks from a plastic doughnut container. Shortly afterwards, a pair of oversize soft drinks cups are used as a bra.

Other highlights included a whole group of dancers being ordered to take their clothes off as if part of a parade ground drill, and Dominique Mercy in gold shorts and top posing as a statue spurting water. And, of course, there is the grinning giant plastic whale that drifts down from above, turns to the audiences before floating away again. I’m pretty sure it didn’t wink, but it felt like it.

Next stop: Santiago, Chile.

Author:  David [ Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

…como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si…
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
Sadler's Wells Theatre, London; June 12, 2012

Charlotte Kasner

For various unconnected reasons. this was the first time that I have seen this Company live. Well: there are many imitators but Pina Bausch was undoubtedly the master.

The Company style does not lend itself to literary description. Words in this context become reductionist. It is truly post-modern in that it makes the audience active during the performance, not in the toe-curling way of many companies, but by making the audience aware that what they bring to the performance is as important as what is presented.

That is not to say that there isn't direct audience interaction; there is a little (I do hope that the woman in the front row got her spectacles back). However, the interaction is a tiny breath in the vast canvass presented during the evening. As The Picture Post would say, all life is here.

The women wore long, floaty dresses in bright colours and floral pastels, with and without high heels. They sashayed, they dashed, they flirted. The men lifted them vertically, ogled, danced pas de deux. Just as I began to think that the movement comprised just men lifting women, the tables were turned. There was a lovely section where one female dancer divested three men of their shirts in an overtly sexual manner, lured them to lie on the stage, draped herself suggestively across their outstretched legs and then proceeded to make them perform sit ups. This was then repeated twice in different positions. Very Thelma and Louise.

Tanztheater Wuppertal has dancers of varying sizes, shapes and ages and boy can they all move. There are also a dab hand at handling a variety of props. A particular favourite (note to self) the use of a cleft tree branch to keep long hair out of the way whilst scrubbing the stage. Long, sweeping hair was much in evidence. No one could accuse Pina Bausch or designer Marion Cito of not making the women feminine, a joy when so much is performed in stark leotards.

The mood shifted constantly from serious to witty to elegiac, the music mostly with a Latin American flavour. The audience are always mentally stimulated, filtering a welter of references against personal and collective experience whilst enjoying consummate movement that never relented, never dulled.

The Company rightly deserved their standing ovation. Let us hope that it will be possible to retain this level of commitment and fidelity following Pina Bausch's untimely demise.

Author:  David [ Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

I caught "...como el musguito" (incidentally, Bausch's last piece) the second evening. The first thing that strikes home is that the stage is bare. True, the white floor moves to reveal huge cracks from time to time, but the huge stage-filling sets Bausch was noted for are nowhere to be seen.

Then, immediately the piece starts, you are hit by the dancing. There is just so much of it, and of such high quality. Sure, all of her trademarks are there: the audience involvement, the repetition, the focus on relationships, but it all seems very different. Maybe it was the influence of the younger dancers in the company, maybe something else, but the whole thing is so much more subtle, and so much brighter. It rather makes you wonder where Basuch might have ended up had she not have been taken from us.

Author:  David [ Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

Ten Chi
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch
Barbican Theatre, London; June 15, 2012

Charlotte Kasner

"Ten Chi" takes place on a stage with a mound upstage right and, an elephant in the room in a manner of speaking, a life-size whale fluke, apparently diving down to the depths. The huge tail at times resembles a mushroom with a section bitten out of it; one almost expects to see Carroll's caterpillar perched atop smoking his hookah. At other times it resembles a weeping, wind-wracked tree. The latter is probably the most appropriate as there is a definite flavour of Japan here.

About half way through the first half, "snow" flutters down in thicker and thicker flurries, piling up on the stage and enabling one dancer to sweep her hair through it and another to describe a circle with her foot as her partner sweeps her round in a circle. The light filtering through the "flakes" is mesmerising, creating a feeling of being within the intimacy of a snow dome, party to its internal secrets.

Dance and speech whirl through their appointed hours creating the feeling of the liminal space experienced between waking and dreaming. There are references to Fuller, Graham and Duncan. Long, silky skirts are stretched, flounced and wafted and one man even uses his partners' long, trailing white skirt as a napkin.

We are plunged between agonised frenzies of angst, slow, sensual stretches, manic jumps and existential speech. No sooner has one sequence sparked a train of thought than it moves relentlessly on. Light and shade, light and shade, with a touch of Salvador Dali in between.

Bausch is not afraid of being downright funny at times. A favourite moment occurs when two men square up to each other in the manner of dogs displaying bravado. Both strike a martial arts pose in deep plies: a third dancer appears carrying two chairs which he places neatly underneath each man, thereby diffusing their anger and turning the threat into ridicule as they are forced to sit.

This is very much a womens' work. They are feminine but powerful, the men, mostly in black suits, one in grey, providing interludes and solos to intercut their business and carrying them vertically or horizontally. More than anything, it is of course the epitome of ensemble work of great stamina and depth and well-deserving of another standing ovation.

Author:  David [ Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

‘Bamboo Blues’
Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch
Barbican Theatre, London; June 21, 2012

David Mead

Shantala Shivalingappa in Bamboo Blues. Photo Jong-Duk Woo.jpg
Shantala Shivalingappa in Bamboo Blues. Photo Jong-Duk Woo.jpg [ 16.9 KiB | Viewed 13613 times ]

Inspired by a visit to Kolkata and her friendship with the late Chandralekha, a pioneer in bringing together the modern and traditional in Indian dance, Pina Bausch’s 2007 “Bamboo Blues” evokes India in brilliant colours. They really are striking, not only in the vibrant blues, magentas, pinks, reds, emerald greens and flaming oranges of the ladies’ ballgowns, but also in the second half projections of palm trees, chhau dancers and Bollywood stills, all of which contrast starkly with Pablo Pabst’s set of sheer white fabric drapes.

As with most of Bausch’s later works, there is a great deal of ‘pure’ dance and a rather more optimistic feel than was present previously. The dance hits you right from the off. A barefoot dancer emerges from the drapes, her long black hair and flowing pink gown billowing in the breeze. What follows is a beautifully fluid solo full of sweeping arms, twists and deep circles. The music, largely a blend of Indian classical sounds and easy going Western songs and blues was a languid as the dance.

It’s the sort of thing we get to see and hear much more of. And therein lays the problem. While it is very beautiful, “Bamboo Blues” is dreadfully one-paced. It is not only contemplative but dreamy. The female solos too start to merge into one. Only Madras-born Shantala Shivalingappa really stood out as bringing a very different body and a very different, and authentic, way of moving to the evening, her dance full of clear references to those bases of Indian dance: kathak and bharatanatyam. There is individuality here, but it is all much more subtle than is usually the case. The only solo that ratchets things up at all is one to Michael Gordon’s percussive “Weather One”. It might be an industrial score, but it provided some much needed contrast.
Shantala Shivalingappa and Fernando Suels Mendoza in Bamboo Blues. Photo Jong-Duk Woo.jpg
Shantala Shivalingappa and Fernando Suels Mendoza in Bamboo Blues. Photo Jong-Duk Woo.jpg [ 23.34 KiB | Viewed 13613 times ]

The Indian references come thick and fast but seemed rarely to do more than scratch the surface. The ladies did a lot of enigmatic wandering slowly on, stretching out on the floor staring into space. They looked like fashion models posing, but could equally have been people or animals giving way to the heat of the day. Another modelling reference saw men and women dressed in mundus, the traditional Kerala plain white dhoti, walk slowly across the stage as if on a catwalk, hitching them up in different ways, something Bausch saw across South India, no doubt. Elsewhere a man soaped himself as he bathed outdoors, and a woman took a bucket bath.

There are relative few obvious jokes, which are almost all visual; indeed, it must have been a good 30 minutes before anyone spoke; most unusual in a Bausch evening. When they do come, the jokes tend to be on the thin side. Those involving yoga contortions and ice cream cones at least managed to raise a smile, which is more than can be said for that which saw an Indian call centre operative taking pizza orders for a company in America.

It cannot be denied that this was certainly an evening of Bausch at her most beautiful. The audience gave it the usual standing ovation, although that seems to be an increasingly automatic reaction rather than anything else. For the much of the second half in particular, though, I found my mind trying ever harder to go off on lengthy wanders. This was not so much “Bamboo Blues” as “Bamboo Snooze”.

Author:  David [ Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; June 24, 2012

David Mead

Rainer Behr in Nefes. Photo Jochen Viehoff.jpg
Rainer Behr in Nefes. Photo Jochen Viehoff.jpg [ 42.61 KiB | Viewed 13557 times ]

There are times in this World Cities season when, if it wasn’t for the title or the advertising, that you would struggle to identify the city at the heart of the work on stage. There are no such problems with “Nefés” (which means ‘breath’ in Turkish) even allowing for the fact that there is essentially no set. Indeed, Bausch’s long term designer Pablo Pabst once confided that he had been unable to capture Istanbul, that meeting place of Europe and Asia, of Muslim and Christian, of past and present.

But who needs a set? Right from the start Bausch makes it very plain that Istanbul, or at least Turkey, is where we are. A bare-chested man wrapped in a white towel ambles on stage. Another blows air into a sack filled with water and soap. Suds, lots of suds, follow. “This is me in a hammam,” he explains. It’s a reference that appears several times, including a rather less welcoming one where a scary attendant barks “ticket” at another of the ladies.

There may be no scenery as such, but before too long it starts raining upstage, the falling water creating a huge pool, and in which those sitting upstairs could see some beautiful reflections of the dancers. Ghostly images of ripples on the water also appear from time to time on the otherwise black backcloth. The water serves various functions, including as a representation of the Bosphorus before eventually almost disappearing in front of us. A sign of the disappearing differences between East and West, maybe.

“Nefés” comprises Bausch’s usual collection of impressions, although the link together rather more fluidly than is often the case. Apart from the hammam, there is a scene set in a bazaar; another that sees two dancers dwarfed by projections of Istanbul’s crazy traffic, running back and forth as they try to dodge the onrushing vehicles; and one that involves Turkish delight.

The mix of East and West comes through, both in the music and in the action. Sensuous dance, which from some of the women in particular often had an Eastern tinge, contrasted with that for the men, often fast and frenetic with arms swirling all around the body, with the occasional very modern acrobatic street dance element thrown in for good measure. As in Bamboo Blues, it was Shantala Shivalingappa who really caught the eye. She is not only stunningly graceful and sensuous, she has incredible footwork, no doubt honed during her training in India, and an amazing turn of speed, often changing direction in the blink of an eye. The music meanwhile is an eclectic mix of Turkish, classical guitar, songs by Tom Waits, and even an Astor Piazzolla tango.
Shantala Shivlingappa in Nefes. Photo Ursula Kaufmann.jpg
Shantala Shivlingappa in Nefes. Photo Ursula Kaufmann.jpg [ 32.27 KiB | Viewed 13557 times ]

Food puts in its usual appearance. In one scene two women sit at the front of the stage eating pastries dipped in honey, which runs all over their hands and fingers. When they walked on, I’m sure those in the front row were expecting their usual share of the goodies, but not tonight.

Bausch also takes her usual look at male-female relationships, although here they are rather gentler than is usually the case. On the humorous side, I particularly enjoyed the one where a man, one side of the stage, beckoned to his lover, peeking out from the opposite wing to join him. When she does so, it is with her mother firmly in tow. Equally amusing was the sight of another woman at the side of the stage, dancers crawling out from beneath her long gown. “One, two, three . . .”, she counts aloud. When they have all emerged she says, “My grandmother had ten children.” They laugh. We laugh.

More dreamy, surreal moments included the tiny Ditta Miranda Jasjfi carried backwards by a man as she tries to walk forwards. Think walking along a travelator going in the opposite direction to that you are walking in, and you get the idea. Another woman, with water bags balanced on a branch on her head, appears to climb a staircase, her feet walking in the hands on two men. The ladies also get swung around in any variety of ways, always with the loose hair flowing and dresses billowing. As in earlier Bausch works, the women are being manipulated, but here they seem very happy about it.

For once, Bausch also gives us a climax that really feels like a natural end. To Tom Waits’ ballad “All the World is Green”, the men come on stage in a chain, one at a time, shuffling, kneeling, turning along the floor. The women form a second line upstage in another chain, but with arms eating up the air. It was like two Greek friezes come to life.

Next stop: Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

I was surprised there was no reference to belly dancing in a piece inspired by Istambul, but there was more actual dancing in this work than the others I've seen.

Funniest moment so far: the human security arch in the Window Washer.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

Der Fensterputzer (the Window Washer)
by Pina Bausch, performed by Tanztheater Wuppertal, Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, 18th June, 2012

Pina Bausch was a seminal force in dance and the theatre – we hold this truth to be self-evident. I remember seeing a black and white TV production of “The Green Table” by Kurt Jooss with Bausch, in her early 20's, playing The Old Woman – convincing and heart-breaking. The film of “Cafe Muller”, with emotionally scarred residents and Bausch as a sepulchral figure in the background, was as moving and gripping as any I have seen. And then we saw her “Rite of Spring”, a pure dance work of extraordinary power.

Now we have all 10 of her city works made in collaboration with city authorities around the world, as part of the London Olympic Culture Festival – an immense undertaking with some 40 lorries required to bring all the kit to London. We are told that in each work, Bausch would draw on the initial impressions of the cast to piece together their collective perspective. “Der Fensterputzer”, depicting the Bausch take on Hong Kong, was the second I have seen this season and the third overall, but for me the series accords with the law of diminishing returns. I have some sympathy for those who will see the complete set over a few weeks.

There are always positive aspects. The sets by Peter Pabst are memorable: high banks of sand on three sides of the stage in “Viktor” (Rome) and a mountain of red blossoms for “Der Fensterputzer”. There is much humour, indeed the short scenes moving rapidly before our eyes, sometimes take on the character of a TV sketch show; in “Viktor”, there is a scene in a café with some of the worst waitresses in the world, which independently mirrors the famous Victoria Wood sketch with Julie Walters. In “Fenster..” two female airport guards force a man to strip to his underpants, with laughter throughout the theatre.

And there are breath-taking dance segments from Tanzteater Wuppertal's excellent performers, especially in “Fenster..”. They are varied, suiting the skills of the individuals and show that Bausch never lost her ability to create riveting movement.

So what's the problem? I kept asking myself what the often seemingly disconnected vignettes told us about Hong Kong and life there: a man skiing down the flower mountain; two men fighting with pillows; an inverted man passing water from one bucket to another only for the water to be transferred back; a woman trying to reach the end of a table, repeatedly thwarted by a man lifting it to near vertical etc etc etc. Perhaps that there is a lot of meaningless though frantic activity; perhaps that woman are ill-used, as emerges from so many of her works; perhaps that the few examples we hear of Hong Kong popular music is ghastly? A sharper focus on the problems of people in his home town comes from Wong Kar-Wei's films, such as “Chungking Express” or “In the Mood for Love”.

The other problem is the length, averaging around three hours. With a myriad of short scenes, even with a wealth of theatrical business to catch our eye, there is simply far too much material. So what of the Bausch legacy? The audience response to both the shows I have seen to date has been rapturous. It may well be that I am missing the point in these celebrations of cities and humanity. I have no doubt that Bausch's “Rite of Spring” will still be performed 100 years from now; for works like “Der Fensterputzer” the future is less clear.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

I'm only able to see four of these performances this time around and so far I've enjoyed Viktor the most. Stuart has a point though about how far these works go in representing the places that inspired them, Viktor is about Rome and the religious objects d'art trundled out were a clear reference to the Vatican, but I didn't find the piece particularly Italian - and I'm speaking as someone who flew in from Italy only a couple of hours before the performance. Some of the imagery is beautiful in Viktor, especially the girls in their flowing evening gowns swinging across the stage, but how is that more Roman than say Parisian or Athenian or indeed of any other city?

Don't get me wrong I'm a big fan of Pina Bausch and have seen a number of her works over the years, otherwise I wouldn't be shelling out for this event, but the links to the cities in question are tenuous in my view although in general time flew past with only Nefés being over-long in my view.

Author:  David [ Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch: London 2012

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
Barbican Theatre, London; June 28, 2012

David Mead

Tanztheater Wuppertaal in Agua. Photo Oliver Look.jpg
Tanztheater Wuppertaal in Agua. Photo Oliver Look.jpg [ 44.73 KiB | Viewed 13470 times ]

Trees. Palm trees. Blowing in the wind. That is the most striking memory of “Água”, Pina Bausch’s piece made in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut in São Paulo. Those trees are on the huge video that dominates the stage for much of the evening, covering three sides and often the floor too. Apart from trees, there was the sea, rivers, forests, birds soaring and, finally, waterfalls. There was not a single sighting of a vehicle or a city, not even much in the way of buildings, and, apart from some close ups of men sailing and a group of drummers, not much in the way of people either. Where was the buzzing metropolis? Where was the real Brazil; the Brazil of everyday people? What was also odd, given that they come from Asia, was the presence of orang utans. Still, it was all beautifully shot. It could have been an ad for the Brazilian Tourist Board.

But what of the action? “Água” certainly communicated the laid back nature of Brazil. Having said that, there really seemed very little substantive content. Or am I suffering from ‘Bausch fatigue’? Whatever, the video certainly overpowered the dance. More than once I had to pull myself away from the film and back to the live action. The end was impressive, dancers spraying each other with the amazingly spectacular Iguassu Falls behind. That came shortly after a scene had them apparently tapping the falls bringing water to the stage via a makeshift pipe.

Elsewhere, I do recall thinking that the women’s hair looked a bit like the palm trees swaying. There was one part where the ladies turned cartwheels and somersaults over the men’s backs. Oh yes, and there was the time a woman stroked her legs with a hairbrush. An amusing interlude came when one woman tries to dance a solo, but is constantly interrupted by another telling of her parents attempts to get her to dance and her experiences in a ballet school. A beach scene where the dancers held up towels with images of ‘ideal’ bodies in front of their own also brought a smile. Apart from that it was mostly very light, including lots inconsequential cocktail party nothingness that included much lolling around on white sofas; nice white sofas mind you. There were occasional hints of darker Bausch, notably when Julie Shanahan spoke of longing for love and attention that remained out of reach because everything and everyone was “impossible” and because she was “so forgettable”.

The music didn’t help. Largely a selection of Brazilian pop tunes, it was pleasant enough, and certainly more varied than the accompaniment for “Bamboo Blues”, but hardly striking.

It has long been acknowledged that Bausch’s later works are sifter and have a more positive, light and upbeat feel to them. They certainly provide more chances for the dancers to show they can dance; and very well too. All this has been put down to her mellowing and to an influx of new, younger dancers into the troupe. The pieces are still assuredly Bausch. They still show many of her trademarks. But they also have much less content and lack any sort of cutting edge of much of her earlier creations. They may be easier on the eye and the brain, but in other ways they are much harder going.

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