Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Perfection Of Pina Bausch



Look, there's not much I CAN'T find a flaw in but this might be one of those rare times when I'm struck dumb. What Pina Bausch did with Gluck's Overture to "Orpheus & Eurydice" is possibly the best thing I've ever seen choreographed to opera and maybe one of the best morbid performance pieces ever...and I like morbid. And opera. Especially chorale pieces and those are always morbid, I mean choruses sing on that fine line between good and evil. Even Handel's "Messiah" could be the theme from heaven OR hell, it's a coin toss. Have you ever listened to Mozarts Requiem? Well...it IS a funeral mass, so it is morbid in a sense yet all they are talking about is GOD and still one feels they are being sent straight to hell. "Consigned to flames of wall"....

Bausch's lines are very Martha Graham in this piece and perhaps she meant it that way. They BEGIN Graham but end Bausch - askew and random, almost like afterthoughts. I found Pina Bausch to be unusual in a German art house kinda way when I first found Cafe Mueller, but I see such subtlety and understatement here that I have to wonder if she may have been a musician. Her choreography just seems so beautifully woven into the orchestra and opera, breathing within the fabric of it no less! I've watched some real crap on YouTube of "performance artists" trying to do some contemporary bullshit to "Salome" and of course "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Gianni Schicchi is a big draw for the juxtaposition-driven and it's flop after embarrassing flop. Opera is like fire for performance artists because, for starters, it has a built-in "alienator": a lot of people don't want to hear it. Opera can be intolerable unless it's scratched in here and there, buried within a modern track. It's also a full piece of work on its own: voice, music and story. I don't think you can easily work with opera if you are just anyone choreographer. Performance artists simply play a dangerous game when they attempt to work with opera and I can't think of anyone but Pina Baush who has done something that not only worked but is brilliant. Her choreography here is simply breathtaking : sparse, unusual, somber and when the chorale pieces begin her ensemble performs in unison, big moves, sweeping gestures you could even say, but very simple. She remains true to her style and there is no real uniformity. Perhaps each move that must accentuate the entrance of voices is uniform but nothing ends in unison. Even the dancers' clothes are not entirely the same shades of black.

No. You can not be just some choreographer and work with opera. You have to be a Pina Bausch. And here, I would say Miss Bausch,allowing this to be nationally performed before her death, soared above her own legacy with this work of art. I've watched some of the most amazing risktaking in history on stage both in dance and music, artists far ahead of their time and here I am in awe. Pina Bausch very quietly conjured a thunderstorm in 1975 with this masterpiece then resurrected it in 2009 before she left us. A genius has died. And left us with these works created in fragile hands which never knew the meaning of the word pretentious. Of all things... Please watch this beautiful piece and let me know what you think. - Fatova Mingus