Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pina Bausch 1940-2009

In the early 1980's a coach, destination Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal left the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. On the bus modern dance lovers and prominent figures of the arts in the Netherlands. Among them Benno Premsela, the godfather of Dutch Design, his partner Friso Broeksma, and Arthur van Schendel, the founder of AUB UitBuro. I remember these gentlemen so well, because I got to sit right beside them in the first row of the theater. A great place to watch the ripple of every muscle, catch every spray of sweat, and hear the rhythmic panting of the dancers who performed in Café Müller.

Bewildered by the brutality of movement on the dance floor, seeing a female dancer climb back into the arms of her partner to be dropped on the floor, over and over again, I felt the assault. And slight embarrassment. Seated between an older and more seasoned audience I was struck by the notion that those around me as well were stunned— or mesmerized.

The lack of costumes —the dancers appeared to be wearing street clothes— drove the forceful, obsessive or neurotic behavior of the "players" home with more force than stylized costumes could have done.

In memory of the great innovative German choreographer Pina Bausch I'm watching a few videos on YouTube, intermittently writing a word, a sentence or two. Sitting through the stylized domestic violence pays off, Bausch herself speaks and then performs in the video posted by Malou Airado.

Seeing Bausch —the aged Pre-Raphaelite with the chiseled features, the pale skin and long hair— will the limbs of her achingly thin body in movements that are part of her very own vocabulary in Café Müller, is an extraordinary experience.

Remember Me, from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, which Bausch chose for this 1978 piece is a touching and appropriate song to listen to on the day of her death.
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