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With a German origin, Pina Bausch, a breath taking contemporary dancer and choreographer! Her best performances choreographed include “Café Muller”, “Le Sacre Du Printemps”, “Nelken”, “Danzon”, and “Barbe Bleue”. Most importantly, this paper is an outlook of Bausch’s work, especially in these extraordinary performances, and indicating what makes such unique performances a masterpiece of our time.
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At the outset, “Café Muller” is a piece where Pina Bausch participated in herself. While on the other hand, such choreography is truly puzzling as I was not able to grasp the message, or the story of the performance. At the beginning of the piece, I questioned that maybe Bausch was remembering a certain incident in her life and that the dancers were depicting Bausch’s sub-conscious images. Nevertheless, as I watched more of the piece, to me it depicted elements of madness, bewilder, and passion. The setting of the stage seemed like that of a neglected psychiatric hospital’s café where the male leading dancer was trying to bring back his lover from a world where she had tangled herself in. And here another question came to my mind? Could Bausch be remembering such an incident that took place with her in the past? Could it be her; the lover who got tangled in a world where she could not get out of? However, the movements of the female dancer were of a woman trying to avoid a man, not of a woman in love; also, the movements were simple, yet very powerful with fervor. Moreover, I was very fond of the part where the leading male dancer pushed away the chairs and the tables thoroughly; it felt that he wanted to protect his lover from getting hurt as she danced aimlessly. However, as I continued to watch, two other male dancers appeared, including Dominique Mercy. The part where Mercy and the female dancer had an affectionate moment and have repetitively done the same movement 13 times, but at faster pace every time really caught my attention as it left me wondering regarding its relation to Bausch. Also, it left me with an impression that Mercy and the female dancer could actually be Bausch remembering her past with her lover.
Furthermore, “Le Sacre Du Printemps”, or “The Rite of Spring” is undeniably an intense piece. This is not the first time for me to watch it; however, every time I do, my full attention is diverted towards Stravinsky’s music, and Bausch’s excellently choreographed performance. Although I have watched this performance several times, I have never understood the story of such a piece. To me it seemed that the leading dancer in red was trying to escape the people around her; also, I believe that she has been betrayed by her lover as he was the one who had lead her to such people and left her as she tries to run away, or express her way out. As a spectator, I was fully engaged with the movements of the dancer in red as they were extremely powerful, highlighting her muscular physique. Also, I sensed that she was about to bawl with anger expressing her feelings, yet she was suppressed by more than 15 female and male dancers impeding her from doing so. The strong music beats signaled danger, and the movement of the dancers seemed like what would take place during a ritual, or sacrifice, which made me question could the dancer in red be a sacrifice whom they intend to offer in a ritual of theirs? However, the red dress was extremely provocative which made me question whether they intended to sacrifice her, or punish her for a certain deed she had committed. Also, regarding the costumes and the stage setting, the costumes were of either pale colors such as cream, or of dominating colors such as red and black; also, I think that this was intended in order to shift your attention towards the main dancer in red with accordance to the music. Moreover, the stage was filled with dirt, and this implied that the setting intended to appear outdoors giving more power to the performance making it more realistic. “The Rite of Spring” is an exhilarating piece that would definitely grasp anyone’s attention immediately.
Additionally, “The Man I Love” is a song written by George Gershwin, and I believe that this is an expert of a choreography by Bausch entitled “Nelken”. “The Man I Love” is a solo performed in two different settings by a male performer as he mumbles the song and uses sign language. The title and the lyrics of the song “The Man I Love” imply a message of love and affection. I consider this performance full of emotions as the performer was successful at articulating his feelings through sign language. Moreover, Bausch’s works include pieces that depict violence, love, humor, as well as, the relationship between individuals, so could this performance be a well-conducted scene influencing the relationship between two males, but in a discrete manner? The performance conducted in the first setting gave me the impression that the performer was rehearsing as he seemed to be more relaxed and self-confident. While on the other hand, the second performance was conducted on stage and was a real performance as the performer was formally dressed and you could hear the audience applaud. However, during his performance on stage, I felt that the performer was uncomfortable expressing such an idea due to the fact that it is not normal for such views to be expressed publicly. I consider this performance to be unusual indeed as it could be implying to such an issue; but I also could be mistaken as this is an excerpt of a whole performance. Also, what made me re-consider my opinion is that the audience was laughing during his performance which assured to me that it was a humorous excerpt from one of Bausch’s choreographies.
Moreover, another excerpt from Bausch’s choreographies entitled “Danzon” is performed by her long-time colleague; Dominique Mercy. While watching Mercy perform I imagined a man, lonely, walking in the streets, drunk, and sad. Although I could sense a lot of sadness and remorse; however, Mercy had performed with great vigor. The vigor produced was somehow surprising to me as the opera music which Mercy had performed on gave me the impression that such performance could have been “flat” as the music was not supportive to his movements. Also, I have realized that in certain parts during his performance he was not dancing with accordance to the music which indicated that the music could be hindering him from performing with greater energy. Nevertheless, as a spectator, I admired the setting of the stage, especially the spotlight directed towards Mercy which made me focus on his performance entirely; also, leaving space for the audience to create a story of their own.
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Last, but not least, “Barbe Bleue” is another puzzling, or in other words, peculiar performance choreographed by Bausch. Bausch was successful at including several human states in such a piece where I have observed sadness, humor, and madness. Also, I believe that the aim of such a performance is to present a relationship between a man and a woman. The relationship between the leading lady in red, and the leading man was not as intimate as the relationship between the rest of the female and male dancers. At certain parts, I sensed sadness in the performance of the lady in red as her movements towards the male dancer at times indicated passion and at times indicated resent. Moreover, what I found humorous was when the male dancers showed their muscular physique in a comic manner wearing nothing but underpants and had their partners admire their muscularity. However, during a particular scene where the dancers wore white sheets, the leading man after coming in contact with a dancer, clapped his hands in a certain manner which gave me the impression that he was mad; also, his facial expressions at certain scenes were those of a mad man, which made me realize that for such a reason the lady in red might have wanted to avoid contact with him, or even feared him. Also, the setting of the stage was like of a deserted house, and the combination of the opera music with such a setting certainly created an ominous mood.
To conclude, the performances choreographed by Pina Bausch are very interesting because they persuade their spectators to create their own view/story regarding each piece. Moreover, the dancing steps in all pieces were avid in terms of sending clear messages to their viewers on the relationship between men and women, resentment, and passion. The ultimate use of settings; stage direction, costumes, and facial expressions, all resulted in masterpiece performances of all time, and the credits to such compelling and flawless pieces go to the choreographer whose mind working for such performances is beyond the imagination of common populace.
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