Pina Bausch

Saturday evening, we saw Pina Bausch’s For the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (2002) at the BAM. We invited J. and M. to come up from Baltimore to see the program with us. It was marvellous. The piece started with 2 men sitting on a table, before one complexly falls off the table, the other one holds his leg such that he is hanging on the edge of the table. It was a mischievous to start the almost 3-hour piece. I and trying to jot down as many episodes as I can remember, who knows when will be the next time I see this piece again.

M. thinks that at certain points he felt that the movements were repeated so much that they were slapsticks-like. They would almost get on his nerves. I do think that the repetitions is neccessary. When one sees the mischievous or comical moves, his/her first reaction is the attention yielded from a mixture of shock and surprise. That is very much reactionary. The interest generated is a reflex of the unexpected movements. To repeat the movements, the viewers to get over the hump of pure reflex reactions and process the moments in the intellectual level. If there is no “excessive” repetitions, the movements are experienced, felt and gone. Once repeated the 5th time, the 10th time, viewers could be annoyed, thus forced to think about what is really going on. I think this is one of the significant functions of repetition as a rhetorical device.

On the other hand, by repeating complicated moves, viewers have enough time to examine and think about each movement. Moves come and go away so quickly, I would like each of them be allowed a fair amount of time and occurrences that allow me to enjoy and process them as much as I can.

I recall seeing Nazareth Panadero in The Window Washer (1997). Her voice is so poignant and coarse. I remember seeing her speaking Cantonese in The Window Washer when I saw it in Hong Kong. I also remember her big hairdo.

In one episode, the female dancer was lying on the floor. The male dancer was dragging the imaginary lines that pulls her towards him, one body part at a time. They have marvellous cooperation between each other, as if she was really controlled by the imaginary lines. She ended up in his embrace. In another episode, the female dancer is completely effortless. She allowed her partner to manipulate her completely. He picked her up and then he allowed her to fall. But of course, she was not effortless. She was in fact in control of her own “effortless” movements. She moved, a lot.

I loved the finale. My heart was pumping so hard that I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Everyone was dancing together, exchanging partners and repeating moves. The music was also intense. I was so enthralled and I felt I was going to burst out and scream. And then the light faded and it ended.

e.ku took a shot during the intermission at the performance the next day, and he got yelled at.

This is the program description from BAM:

Two men sit next to each other on a tabletop. One, with an obvious penchant for risk, tips his body precariously to the side, again and again. If his partner doesn’t catch him in the nick of time, he’ll surely crash to the floor. Thus begins Pina Bausch’s Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen (For the Children of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow), a multigenerational ode to dancers at each stage of their lives and careers and one of the choreographer’s most affecting works.

Bausch first brought her unique brand of dance to BAM 20 years ago, establishing herself as the master of transformative theater. Since those heady days, she and her Tanztheater Wuppertal have buried the stage under a carpet of dirt, flooded it with water, piled it high with red bauhinia blossoms, and stocked a gigantic tank with exotic yellow and blue fish. Her newest work, set on a bare stage divided by stark white walls, features a series of jewel-like solos, a magnetic mix of propulsive Latino beats and unabashed crooning, and an unmistakable message that goodness always prevails.

Most central to the work, however, is Bausch’s inclusion of two eloquent company veterans. Authoritative, tender, and supremely moving in their concentration, dancer Dominique Mercy and former member Lutz Förster form the emotional vortex around which the action revolves.

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