Thursday, 29 January 2015

Pina Bausch in Naples, Italy - the Tanztheater Wuppertal dances at San Carlo Opera house the legendary choreographies Café Müller and The Rite of Spring.

San Carlo Opera House, Naples, Italy
Café Müller, music by Henry Purcell
The Rite of Spring, music by Igor Stravinsky
Directed and choreographed by Pina Bausch
Sets and costumes Rolf Borzik
Sunday 14 July 2013, 17.30 GMT

Founded in 1973, the Tanztheater Wuppertal continues to present the work of Pina Bausch in the world, under the direction of her longtime collaborator Lutz Förster. On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of its activities, the company performed at the San Carlo Opera House in Naples, on July 14th, with two very famous choreographies: Café Müller, choreographed in 1978, and The Rite of Spring, choreographed three years before.
Two masterpieces that time has consecrated by revealing the amazing timelessness, especially after the death of her creator, Pina Bausch, important figure of the dance theater of the twentieth century.
When the first silhouette, with the eyes closed, bare feet, arms abandoned along the sides, stumbles into space, we begin to recognize shapes, images, movements, of which much has been read and spoken. The importance of seeing live the Tanztheater Wuppertal in Cafè Muller is not merely the attendance to one of the most relevant dance theater pieces of the twentieth century. But it is also the possibility of tracing our own path, feeling lost, trembling for a hug.
Time did not scratch this choreography. The only thing that changed is the scene: the white wall with a door has been replaced by transparent panels. For the rest, we can still see the big room in the penumbra of "Café Müller" with lots of chairs and tables and a revolving door in the background.
And while the audience of subscribers (mostly unaware of what they are going to see) and fans (conscious of what they are expected to live), takes place, the excitement increases and thoughts fly to the video of the 1985 performance - the only chance I had to discover this choreography - and the intense interpretation of Pina Bausch. The expectations for this performance were very high but I can say I have never seen a performance full of so many mixed feelings: love and hostility, tenderness and aggression. An intensely touching choreography.

The excitement does not drop during the interval, which sees in action a fast paced and perfectly sync large group of technicians. A changing stage choreography: from the disappearance of a forest of chairs to the appearance of a land carpet.
Forty are the years of the German company and a century has elapsed since the first performance of Stravinsky at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. It's primitive, wild, "The Rite of Spring" by Pina Bausch, dated 1975.
I cannot imagine different movements for such notes. The choreography is fierce and ruthless, and shows contrasting solos and violent mass games in which there are sixteen men and fifteen women.
The alternation of quick movements, full of terror, in quiet moments, increases the tension. The stage is filled with sand and that's where the battle takes place between the “Chosen one” a young girl who will be sacrificed to consecrate spring and the tribal community. The ancestors surround the Chosen One, who marks the ritual with the beginning of her sacrificial dance to the death. When the dance reaches its peak (her final exhaustion), the music climaxes, by signifying that the “annual cycle of forces which are born again…is accomplished in its (the music’s) essential rhythms. The choreography in Bausch’s The Rite of Spring correlates to the music, but in a symbiotic way: the two elements seem to be furthering each other rather than the choreography simply trying to keep up with the music as the piece rolls on. Unlike other choreographic versions celebrating heroes, the one celebrated by Bausch is a woman who is desperately fighting with all her might against her fate trying to escape the sacrifice in a revolt that generates pity. Red dressed, in an exhausting dance of denial and acceptance, she will succumb with her body, but not with her soul.
Impeccable are the movements, the musicality of the dancers, the expressiveness, the soul with which they danced.
I watched the performance both incredulous and touched. I found myself confused at the end of the performance, almost shocked. The gesture that I saw is a gesture in which we ought to recognize ourselves, as a ritual to get lost in.

Cafè Muller and The Rite of the Spring must be part of the culture of all of us. They are the history that lives through dance.


Extract of Café Müller danced by Pina Bausch.

Federica Panariello

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