Thursday, July 02, 2009

RIP Pina Bausch

Amongst all the celebrity deaths of late, this one stands out. During my adolescence, the choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch occupied for me the place of worship that Michael Jackson occupies for may others (judging by the amount of grief generated by his demise). Her style of choreography was totally captivating to my friends and I, and we even attempted to stage pale imitations to her work in my hometown of Swindon and at the Edinburgh festival. When I moved to London in the mid 1980s, Bausch had assumed the status of a near deity and seemed to be an influence on many of the other avant garde performers that I saw at the ICA, such as Jan Fabre, Bow Gamalan and La Fura dels Baus.

Here are some quotes from articles as well as links to YouTube clips that testify to her extraordinary genius:

She was known for her extravagant staging - in Nelken (1982), 21 dancers, four professional stunt men and four Alsatian dogs performed on a stage covered with thousands of pink carnations, while in Palermo (1989) dancers picked their way through dust and debris.

Each piece had its own character dictated by its setting – the carnations covering the stage in Nelken, the wall that falls as rubble in Palermo,the peat-covered floor of her Rite of Spring. (source BBC)

In 1998 Bausch revived Kontakthof a show she had made 20 years previously which explored the impossibilities of love in the setting of a dance hall. Then her dancers were young; when she revived the work she cast it with non-dancers, aged 65 or over. As the elderly performers enacted the hopeful rituals of courtship, they were at once laughably frail and endlessly touching (source telegraph online).

No comments: