Since Bausch died, her company have been devoted to performing her works far and wide, and this performance will mark the beginning of a new partnership with Sadler’s Wells involving their annual appearance in London.
In Como el Musguito, Pina and her company explored their response to Santiago, Chile, where they were on tour, as part of their world cities series. It would be the last work Bausch ever created, her sudden death falling only three weeks after the premiere.
How far the work is tinged by that context is entirely subjective, but the company is used to bringing their personal experiences to the stage - Bausch’s Tanztheater style demanded it. Here her usual montage of disparate scenes splinters into a collection of solos before reuniting again.
Regular set designer Peter Pabst puts the work on black box stage with a bright white floor. As the work progresses, a crack appears through the floor’s centre. The female performers loosen their long hair and move in floating, jewel bright gowns. A woman flirts with a circle of men, inflicting little cruelties. And a couple clings together only to be pulled apart again and again by an invisible force.
Bausch’s images, while often confessionally honest, are as ever struck through with comedy. One woman applies her makeup, oblivious to the bucket of water poured over her head and in another scene the company sit in a long line and play ecstatically with each other’s hair.
While there’s nothing so straightforward as a narrative theme, Como el Musguito is infused with the place in which it was made - much of the music is Chilean folksong. The titular phrase, ‘like moss on a stone,’ comes from the song Volver a los 17 by Violeta Parra. Even the rehearsal space used by the company while in Santiago was lent them by Joan Jara, widow to the songwriter and poet Victor Jara who was murdered during the Pinochet coup. Although the work resists any political interpretation, its themes of loss, fragility and futility inevitably bring that story to mind.
As critic Sanjoy Roy says, one goes to a Bauschian performance to experience, not to watch. Extreme, uncomfortable, and comic, it’s a shake-up for the soul.
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch tickets sell fast whatever the show, so be sure to book ahead.
|What||Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Basuch: Como el musguito en la piedra ay si si si|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
11 Feb 16 – 14 Feb 16, 4pm on Sunday 14th Feb
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells|