The great Pina Bausch, choreographer and ex-director of Tanztheater Wuppertal gave her unique vision of dance-theatre to the company; and since Pina Bausch’s death (2009) the company has dedicated itself to keeping her legacy alive.
Pina Bausch, choreographic style
Through constant touring, Tanztheater Wuppertal have been gradually acquainting audiences all over the world with the 46 works by Pina Bausch; and now they bring to Sadler’s Wells never-before-seen dance shows in the UK. Pina Bausch’s extraordinary imagination and her daring choreography created unforgettable theatre out of the ordinary business of life. Using dance, speech and any number of stage props such as water and earth, she drew a number of cultural traditions, including the art movement German Expressionism, into her work. And she actively relied on the human experiences of her dancers to develop a collaborative atmosphere in the company.
Tanztheater Wuppertal, set design
For these two pieces the set designer Peter Pabst (Pina Bausch was a regular collaborator of his) focuses on startling landscapes. Between the two works, the stage is alternately scattered with 40 fir trees, 20 cubic metres of earth, ‘real’ snow and an aquarium.
Pina Bausch, Ahnen (1987)
Ahnen (definition is German for ancestors or foreboding) opens to blaring punk rock. The scene is a desertscape, with dancers performing little tasks like rolling string or smoking while slumped against cacti. A woman eating a quiet meal fires a gunshot into a group beginning to dance in unison, and there’s an impromptu Fred Astaire pastiche. Every dancer is an island, and the moments where they meet are riddled with violence. An eclectic mix of dance theatre, dialogue and drama, Ahnen’s choreography is punctuated with silence and stillness, and brief tableaux scamper between complete scenes.
Pina Bausch, On The Mountain A Cry Was Heard
Auf Den Gebirge Hat Man Ein Schrei Gehört translates as On the Mountain a Cry was Heard, a line from the Bible chapter St. Matthew about the murder of male infants by King Herod. The Pina Bausch soundtrack for On The Mountain A Cry Was Heard includes everything from Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf to Henry Purcell. But don’t be fooled by these seemingly meaning-laden clues – Bausch’s creative process always saved music and titles for last. The dance was to be an independent thing, and the dancers free from externally imposed moods. Again, the Pabst set designs are a safer starting point, the stage here strewn with soil (think Pina Bausch Rite of Spring) and heaped with fir trees. It’s a soft surface for the juvenile leaps and squirms of the cast, as much as a symbol of youth and dirt. Typical of Bausch’s work, the struggle for survival lurks behind simple social rituals, but there’s as much boisterous humour to be found in this as grim realism.
The Culture Whisper opinion
Pina Bausch’s style is distinct and instantly recognisable. But going from one piece to another is as unpredictable as coming to it for the first time, and you’ll never have seen enough Pina to predict. With 46 works in the repertoire, you’d better start now. A word of warning: faithful Pina fans tend to snap up tickets months in advance. If you’re tempted, book Tanztheater Wuppertal tickets now. This promises to be an amazing dance show in London in 2015.
|What||Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: Ahnen and Auf Den Gebirge Hat Man Ein Schrei Gehört|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Roseberry Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
15 Apr 15 – 26 Apr 15, Ahnen: 15 - 22 April
|Website||Click here to go to the Sadler's Wells website|