Pina Bausch's World Cities dance series is 'sheer magic'

Jun 14, 2012

Tanztheater Wuppertal celebrates the woman who changed the way we think about dance

Bettina Stöß

What you need to know
Sadler's Wells and the Barbican are hosting World Cities 2012, a month-long season of works co-produced by Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal.

The series celebrates the work of German choreographer, Bausch, who died in 2009 after achieving international fame with her Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble. She developed a unique style blending movement, sound and dramatic performance to become a leading influence in the world of modern dance in the 1970s.

The World Cities season features ten works exploring ten global locations visited by Bausch, including Rome, Budapest, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Istanbul. The season runs until 9 July.

What the critics like
Pina Bausch's World Cities pieces "suck their flavour and mood from the places she and her company visited", says Sarah Crompton in The Daily Telegraph. This is a posthumous celebration of a woman "who changed what we think of as dance, and what we think of as theatre", performed by the "inspired and committed" Tanztheater ensemble.

Her first work, Viktor, inspired by Rome, has a darkly comic intensity that is "thrilling". There's hardly any dance at all, but a series of unfolding images permeated by sex and melancholy. "Magnificent."

Another piece, Nur Du (Only You), is inspired by Los Angeles, the land of Hitchcock and Marilyn Monroe, says Liz Hoggard in the Evening Standard. But this exuberant, sensual dance-theatre "never resorts to cliché". All Bausch's favourite tropes are here - frocks, fire, screaming, breasts, curtains of hair. Bausch mines the nature of human sexual desire and uses non-linear narrative, but through simple staging, rather than techno gadgetry, "she creates sheer magic".

Bausch travelled a long way during the 23 years in which she created her World Cities series, says Judith Mackrell in The Guardian. "But her journey was about more than geography." The dark dreams and demons that shadowed her early work such as Viktor (1986) appear, to have been banished by youthful energy in later pieces such as Como el Musguito (2009). Throughout, the themes of sexual fetishes and absurd romantic obsessions remain, but become more "playful or tender", eventually "letting in the light".

What they don't like
Critics have very little negative to say about Tanztheater Wuppertal's World Cities season, though Londonist's Laura Dodge notes that Bausch's work is not so much about dance, or movement, but about what moves people: "The world that Bausch brings to life, of human pain, laughter and cynicism, that so many people clearly love, might not resonate for all."

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Pina Bausch was very inspiring. She was not interested in how people move, but in what moves them. I loved all her works. Someone should create a memorial page for her on Evertalk within Facebook.

Its nice to know that her legacy continues. She's a gift to others. I miss Pina Bausch. Thanks for the info about the Evertalk memorial page Jacklyn.