The late dance maker's troupe, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, are back at Sadler’s Wells with two programmes, both featuring new works for the company – the first time they tour works by choreographers other than Bausch herself.
The first programme presents Since She by the Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou.
Papaioannou's choreographic work is listed as starting from 1987, and his website gives an indication of the artist's creative range, including ‘painter, comics artist, director, choreographer, performer, and designer of sets, costumes, make up, and lighting.’ A portfolio career that suggests the strength and experience to take on the hallowed ground of Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal.
Since She is billed as an ode to Pina Bausch, and in many ways it is. Her presence is felt throughout, from the quintessential silk slips and heels for the women to a sense of melancholy that's bizarrely comforting.
The stage is generally dimly lit and home to a massive mountain of dark, ominous foam. This acts as a constant quest for the performers who find themselves scaling it carrying a tree, or cascading down, naked in slow motion. Being swallowed within, they enact what feels like a voyeuristic dream featuring (slow) quick sand.
The piece opens with the 16 dancers entering a small downstage door and crossing the space on a bridge of chairs they engineer themselves, never once touching the floor. It defines the underpinnings of the work: loss combated by community, and longing quietened by exploration and expression.
The amount of detail, the number of poignant moments could go on forever, but they don't. 90 mins is your lot. At times I hoped it would never end; towards the end I started thinking about editing it down.
The dancers begin in evening wear and then undergo many changes and states of undress to suit the vignette they feature in. The stage is constantly adorned with new props. There's a brilliant section where tables and chairs are used within the movement – which doesn't sound original but is! – and act as whirling momentary suspensions and travelling, hovering platforms.
Papaioannou is a fan of the human form. We see lots of it. At times it's removed, appreciated from a Renaissance perspective. At others it's very tangible: there's a kitchen sequence based upon the messier side of reproduction, that causes both amusement and grossness in equal measure.
The music ranges from Greek folk to Wagner, and does its job well. Lone female figures, backlit on the top of the foam mountain need low level epic music to support their poignancy. Simple folk dance of the unison kind is encouraged like a nudge from an old friend. There's even a plate throwing moment which adds to the overall episodic, random and absurd genius of the whole evening.
Papaioannou will undoubtedly create for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch again. These performers need a calibre of work that's rarely available – and Since She feeds them in the way their creative diet has been honed.
NOTE: Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch Programme 2 (22-25 Feb) features Norwegian choreographer Alan Lucien Øyen’s Bon Voyage, Bob and runs at 3 hours and 35 minutes. Please note the earlier start time of 19:00. See trailer below
|What||Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Since She Review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
14 Feb 19 – 25 Feb 19, Since She 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 30 mins no interval. Bon Voyage, Bob 19:00 Dur.:3 hours 35 mins inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|