Fall 2011 in Review: Dance at Zellerbach Hall
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Danzón, 12/3
Pina Bausch’s Danzón is often described as a meditation on life and death, but I disagree. Instead, I saw it as a celebration of life’s most joyous moments, with death entering the work only as a postscript. The work is comprised of a medley of scenes, each depicting a moment of life that ranges in emotion from quietly touching to uproariously hilarious. It begins with one of the performers swaddled in oversized diapers crawling onstage and sucking his thumb and ends with a quote on the ephemerality of life from Goethe. In between, it is full of raucous sexual play and highly energetic dancing. Young love is a recurring theme, with giggling performers chasing each other about the stage, trying to court one another. Bausch’s style (termed Tanztheater, or “dance theater”) is quite relaxed, avoiding the strict technicalities of classical ballet, while maintaining ballet’s ability to convey a moving story.
To learn more about the unique work of Pina Bausch, I highly recommend seeing the film Pina, now playing at Shattuck Cinemas. Directed by Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club), Pina is an excellent documentary that showcases not only the work of the late Pina Bausch, but also the individual personalities of her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal. Additionally, the film exhibits the most tasteful use of 3-D I have ever seen. It seems to me the only way to watch a film on dance. One must be able to see the depth of Bausch’s work (literally and figuratively). The 3-D is no gimmick; it is absolutely necessary to the film’s presentation.