(David Jays’s article appeared in The Times of London, July 5, 2009.)

Pina Bausch: A life less ordinary

German choreographer turned small-town stories into visionary art with works like Rite of Spring, Palermo and Viktor

Indifference to Pina Bausch’s work wasn’t possible — it inspired either impassioned devotion or revulsion. Bausch, who died last week aged 68, was a choreographer, but much more than that suggests. She didn’t extend the dance repertoire so much as mine ways of being human. Staged on a vaunting scale, her productions always felt personal; they felt like they belonged to us. As the actress Fiona Shaw once expressed it to me, Bausch could infuse the smallest moments with meaning, repeating them until they were transmuted into poetry.

Bausch was born in Solingen, Germany, and the nearby industrial town of Wuppertal became her home when she founded her company there in 1973. Generations of dance pilgrims marvelled that such sophisticated work emerged from this uncosmopolitan, even dowdy, place. Just as Fassbinder did in film, she made small-town Germany the centre of her vision: its tight smile and needling compromises, its barely repressed nightmares. She didn’t mention the war, exactly, but collusion and coercion were among her recurring concerns. The punishing extended sequences that clawed through her pieces asked what people might endure; the scenes based on clothes and cosmetics questioned what people would do to pass muster . . .


(Selection of Bausch's work on YouTube)

Bluebeard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J15mFLT-pP4&translated=1

Cafe Muller: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm70fMM3JAk

Nelken: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8wnBSclJjg

Palermo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBIdvSMHEVI&translated=1

Rite of Spring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXVuVQuMvgA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *