Monday, 23 February 2009

Vollmond by Pina Bausch

Philippine "Pina" Bausch is a modern dance choreographer and a leading influence in the development of the Tanztheater style of dance. She is the artistic director and choreographer of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch company, based in Wuppertal in Germany. The company has a large repertoire of original pieces, and regularly tours throughout the world. Bausch began dancing from a young age. In 1955 she began studying at the Folkwang Academy in Essen directed by Germany's then most influential choreographer Kurt Jooss, one of the founders of German Expressionist dance. After graduation she won a scholarship to continue her studies at the Juilliard School in New York City in 1960, with her teachers including Anthony Tudor, José Limón, and Paul Taylor. In New York she performed with the Paul Sanasardo and Donya Feuer Dance Company, the New American Ballet, and became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company.

Her performance is a vision that is the source of enthusiasm for some and controversy for others. Bausch's dance works, many of which are evening- long, offer different vantage points on a compelling yet bleak portrait of humanity. Often what is most vivid in Bausch's dances is the inhumanity of men and women toward each other and the callous indifference of the world that surrounds them. What has irked American dance critics since Bausch made her U.S. debut in June 1984 at the Olympic Arts Festival in Los Angeles, is not this subject matter of her work so much as her coolly neutral position in regards to the often brutal, aggressive and physically and emotionally cruel episodes in her dances. "She keeps referring us to the act of brutalization and humiliation - to the pornography of pain," said the leading dance critic Arlene Croce in The New Yorker, about Bausch's American debut. "The unsettling thing about Bausch's work, despite its originality and mastery, is that it leaves one unsure of where she stands in the moral spectrum," complained Alan Kriegsman of The Washington Post of the same debut tour.

Here it is one of my favourite works by Pina Bausch - Vollmond or “Full Moon,” in which the dancing takes place amid huge volumes of on-stage water. Male-female relations are also the dominating theme of Vollmond, but the context in which they play out is radically different. Bausch places her dancers amid cascades of water, which erupt everywhere from the ceiling to buckets to the dancers’ mouths. The set of Vollmond, for which Bausch moves downtown to Shinjuku, also features a stream that runs across the stage, in which the dancers cavort, bathe, swim—and even drown.

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