to you by
New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women
and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Pina Review 2, 11-30: Going to the Chapel
Our Lady of Bausch
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2004 Chris Dohse
New! Sponsor a Flash!
NEW YORK -- Going to
the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see Pina Bausch has become some
weird kind of New York City ritual. Like if the Intellectual Elite
were a Boy Scout troupe, there would be a merit badge for it. Bausch
has been bringing her work to BAM for 20 years, and her imagery
has become legendary, an urban mythology: the stage covered with
dirt, the mountain of flowers, the heated aquarium. So now it seems
like everybody, and I mean everybody, is here, in the lobby, spilling
over the steps out front. At least five people from different chapters
of my past pop into my face before or after the show, and some of
them turn out to now know each other. Weird. And it's weird the
way everyone, whether they are in the dance world or not, refers
to Pina by her first name, like she's an intimate friend.
"Fur die Kinder von
gestern, heute und morgen" ("For the Children of Yesterday, Today,
and Tomorrow"), seen November 18, takes place inside an idealized,
pristine drawing room, rather like an architectural model of a proscenium
space, constructed to magnify linear perspective. The people here
seem trapped in an eternal dinner party, often reduced to Bauschian
stereotypes. The women rule this roost, snappish harridans or ethereal
somnambulists in high heels and long tresses. The men are canine
doofuses or weak-chinned simperers. As doors built into the set
are drawn open and closed, secret things occur.
Another weird thing
about Bausch is that such a multitude of things can happen onstage
in a three-hour barrage of often stunning visual non sequiturs.
Few of the discreet elements of her marathon assemblage make any
sense, yet they accrue a kind of perfection in the way that dream
incongruities do. In the wrangle for possible meaning, only a handful
of specific actions remain. The physical acts simply evaporate,
like the unraveling of memory. I'm left wondering about the things
I do recall, "Did that really happen?"
A woman brushes her
hair with a shoe. Two men take turns burning each other's fingers
over open flames. There are ballroom couplings. A jumprope game.
The woman who looks like Magenta in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"
(Nazareth Panadero) scrambles a bowl of invisible eggs. The guy
who looks like too many of my ex-boyfriends (Andrej Berezin) makes
fluttering dove gestures with his hands.
I missed Bausch's past
two New York appearances. The last thing I saw was 1997's "Der Fensterputzer."
But I've been hearing everyone say how she's mellowing out, tossing
off her gloom. As if, to paraphrase Morrissey, Pina Bausch just
might die with a smile on her face after all.
In "Fur die Kinder,"
I see the same iconic Bausch, but on a more intimate scale: the
war between the sexes, the essential inability of men and women
to connect, or for romantic love to endure. Perhaps in this work
Bausch is lost in nostalgia for the simple time before sexual urges
ruin everything, for the years of childhood delight before the loss
of innocence. She certainly suffers hopelessness and frayed misconnection
with humor, a greater sense of whimsy.
The arc of the piece
is built from a series of spare solos that create a tension of anticipation,
as if we're all waiting for some big awesome stage mechanism to
occur. Perhaps the ceiling will fall. The walls do a bit of dancing
on their own, looming over the human figures to suggest nightmarish
menace, an unreliability of physics. Perhaps there's more full-out
dancing than in "Der Fensterputzer." In terms of pure movement invention,
it seems that the dancers are dancing less like Bausch and more
like themselves, as if they've been given sets of gestural themes
and puzzled out solutions of their own.
I walk outside to absorb the vibe. I begin to count how many times
I hear the word "gorgeous" and in how many languages. Yes, in a
weird way, Pina Bausch has become an intimate friend, and coming
to see her has become a religious experience. In her works, Bausch
tries to articulate the nature of things, ultimate realities of
human frailty, and to identify her position in chaos. Like the best
art, we viewers are able to project ourselves into her staged representation
of good and evil and rumble around inside our own heads, grappling
there with tenderness and incomprehensible, surreal longing, and
finding universal truths.
Go back to Flash Reviews