Gigs, dance, art

June 22nd, 2008: Pina Bausch – Bamboo Blues

@theatre de la ville

As usual — but next year will be different — I mark the close of my dance season with a “new” Pina Bausch work. Quote-unquote new, because it’s been so similar over the year, with a series of solos that sometimes actually looked the same from year to year, and the token nod to the official country of reference relegated to props or costumes for a postcard effect that was getting on my nerves. Nonetheless, every single year there has been at least a couple of great moments that would make be come back, and very often some part of the soundtrack that would strike a chord — the shock I got from hearing les reines prochaines ‘s take on Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game will be hard to top, as it’s my all-time favorite cover ever.

This year was different. In a good way. The theme was India, but the “local” moments were unobstrusive and left me with the impression that she did connect with that country on a deeper level, as if the influence was strong enough to be diffuse, and props and all were no longer needed. Any such props were seamlessly integrated into her own language, which is the best combination I’ve seen from her in a while.

I was still more of the same, but better. Dancers kept their personalities, but there that rehashed aftertaste was just gone. The dance was different yet still her own, the comedy bits were fewer, just enough to make the regulars comfortable — I guess this being at least my fifteenth means I’m one — but there was enough new twists to satisfy me without reservations. And of course the dance reached just as high a level, but more often; I even think most of it was great, as opposed to some of it. Not really business as usual, and it’s a great feeling to see such a seasoned choreographer pull this off when she could just settle in the surefire and familiar. OK, no revolution in her language, but being sensitive to such shifts is one of the benefits of familiarity.

One more thing: I think that anyone who still spouts the old saw about dance-theater hasn’t been paying attention, and this one makes it even more obvious. There was more theater in at least a dozen of the dance shows I attended this season. And if I wrote earlier than next year would be different, it’s because she comes earlier, because I’m definitely going to be there again.

Finally, this marks the end of the last season with Gérard Violette at the helm of that fine place. In the last sixteen years, that man has brought me an awful lot and I’m just grateful for that and glad I had the opportunity to tell him so in person this year. I wish him the best of luck in his well deserved retirement, and hope Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota will prove up to the task of going forward. I think Mr Violette would appreciate the way I put myself to task: I bought more tickets for next year than ever, adding music to dance, and the only dance show I didn’t book was because I have seen it this year, it will be sold out and I want someone else to get the opportunity to see it — that would be Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Origine. Godspeed and, again, thanks a lot.


June 25, 2008 - Posted by | Dance | ,

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