1980, Sadler's Wells – reviews of 'classic' Pina Bausch show

Feb 12, 2014

A revival of Pina Bausch's acclaimed dance elegy is as captivating as it is challenging

Ulli Weiss
What you need to know

A revival of Pina Bausch's acclaimed dance piece 1980, at Sadler's Wells, London, has captivated critics. The work is performed by the dance troupe Tanztheater Wuppertal, founded by the late dancer and choreographer Bausch and currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Bausch created 1980 following the death of her partner and collaborator Ralf Borzik. The piece is an elegy exploring nostalgia, childhood and death through dance, theatre and monologue, set to music by Beethoven, Debussy, Elgar and Brahms. Runs until 16 February.

What the critics like

"The piece is classic Bausch," a blend of absurd humour, sexual flirtation, children's games and social interaction, says Gerald Dowler in the Financial Times. It is suffused with a sense of grief and the inexorable passing of time, but with many moments of levity and genuine humour.

"As challenging as it is, 1980 is also captivatingly entertaining, shot through with delicious comedy, a brilliance of poetic touch," says Judith Mackrell in The Guardian. The human condition may be unfathomable, but Bausch and the astounding Wuppertal dancers beguile us into believing that we're all in it together.

1980 is a grave but inspiring comedy, and the company that sustains it is "phenomenal", says Donald Hutera in The Times. An alternately sombre and uproarious variety show, it's an unassumingly monumental balancing act of pleasures and pains.

What they don't like

At more than three-and-a-half hours, "it's a bit of an endurance test", says Lyndsey Winship in the Evening Standard. Yet it slowly woos you so that, much like Stockholm Syndrome, by the end you've fallen in love with your captors.

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