Home » London Dance » Review : Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch at Sadler’s Wells – 11th February 2016

Review : Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch at Sadler’s Wells – 11th February 2016


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Pina Bausch Como el musguito en la piedra (photo Bo Lahola)

In 1973, when Pina Bausch was appointed director of dance for the Wuppertal theatres, her mixture of dance and theatre was considered controversial. Over the past 40 years , the Dance theatre genre has become mainstream and inspired choreographers throughout the world.

Sadler’s Wells pays tribute to the work of Pina Bausch and  Tanztheater Wuppertal with a production of her last work, … como el musguito en la piedra. ay si, si, si… (Like moss on a stone) which premiered two weeks before Bausch died in 2009. The piece was created when Pina Bausch and her company were touring Northern and Southern Chile and features the music of Chilean composers including the theatre director, playwright, poet, singer songwriter and political activist Victor Jara, and is inspired by the country’s popular music and its culture.

The work is framed by designer Peter Pabst’s black box and white floor set, in the opening scene, a woman  kneels on all fours and barks when she is picked up by two men in black who carry her around the stage. Another woman is passed from man to man in a constant motion. The following sequence of solos flow like an endless stream of movement, the light and shade of the dance echoing the joy and melancholy of music.

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Pina Bausch Como el musguito en la piedra (photo Bo Lahola)

The women are mostly wearing long evening gowns and move like supermodels around the stage. Their glamour bewitches many of the men who are teased and humiliated in equal measure as they act out scenes in a battle of the sexes. There is plenty of humour and wit, whilst the cast play their games of seduction. The absurdity of everyday life is exposed when lovers run away or cling to each other. The Latin feel of the music may evoke South America but the eternal games of attraction are universal. One of the final ensemble dances in the first half have the dancers lying on the floor acting out a coordinated sequence of actions that one may see on a beach when young men and women want to be noticed.


Pina Bausch Como el musguito en la piedra (photo Laszlo Szito)

If dance predominated in the first half, the second half veered to comedy theatre. After the amusing scene where an ageing Lothario greets a line of beautiful woman with growing excitement, the dance action is punctuated with short snapshots of surreal humour. A rather large tree is carried on the stage by one of the dancers, a woman takes a fish for a walk and some of the men spit out corks to waiting women. Toward the end, scenes from the beginning are replayed which indicate that we have come full circle and life goes on in an endless cycle.


Pina Bausch Como el musguito en la piedra (photo Laszlo Szito)

The Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch company are a remarkable mixture of wonderful dancers, actors and comedians. They move effortlessly between scenes with the assurance of a well-drilled ensemble who believe totally in what they are presenting. The seemingly often unrelated snapshots of everyday life are magically transformed into a coherent whole in which the various facets of human existence are laid bare. Many of the situations presented were familiar to the appreciative audience who recognised that some of the underlying themes like enjoy life in all its many ways and don’t take things too seriously are positive messages in a troubled world. The Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch company with dancers of all ages and sizes illustrate the genius of Pina Bausch who believed that for all our strange foibles, we have more in common with each other than we believe.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Sadler’s Wells website here

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