Presented by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch by arrangement with Arts Project Australia
Reviewed 9 March 2016
The performance opens on a Festival Theatre stage covered in long stemmed carnations, they are beautiful, and slowly the dancers enter. Not dancing but walking carefully carrying chairs. The chairs will be used on and off through the performance. Never having been exposed to the Tanztheater Wuppertal before I was uncertain what to expect. Their reputation preceded them: an international reputation that speaks of innovation and diverse cultural influences. Pina Bausch, the founder of this company, is credited with establishing the Dance theatre as a new genre.
The dancers move with precision and portray differing scenes of life: the child/parent conflict; the testing of authority; and the casual cruelty that occurs in everyday life. The dancers move in unison and then as individuals, they speak, they cry, they shout and there are strange, unexpected actions. Dancers jump from a scaffold onto cardboard boxes, a man force-feeds a girl an orange, another chops onions and other dancers bury their face in the chopped onion. Each action has some significance, but the continuity some times escapes notice.
The performance is to some familiar and beautiful music and at one point a male dancer signs to the recording of The Man I Love by Gershwin. The costumes are fascinating. The men wear either dark formal suits or loose dresses in bright colours that blend with the females. One female wears only a piano accordion, but never plays it. The whole creates a myriad of feelings from confused to confrontational. It runs the gamut from comedic absurd to gently sorrowful.
There is no doubt about the skill and talent of the dancers or the validity of the work, but for those not as familiar with the art form it can be challenging. However it is well worth meeting the challenge.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 9- 12 March
Tickets: $30 – $119
Bookings: Book through https://secure2.bass.net.au/adelaidefestival/WEBPAGES/Account