Photo: Pina Bausch by Peggy Jarrell Kaplan, courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
On the occasion of Pina Bausch's birthday, I am extra grateful today to BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music] for introducing me and so many others to her body of work.
When I saw her posthumously produced, water-soaked Vollmond performed there as part of the 2010 Next Wave Festival, my perception of the potential for dance -- and art in general -- blew open. As infrequently as that happens in life, it turns out to be a common reaction upon first exposure to Pina's unique onstage hybrid of dance, song, dialogue, laughter, and sometimes, even tears.
In this conversation with fellow author Alice Sebold, Aimee Bender captures what I've come to think of as the Pina Bausch effect: "She's a choreographer, and I saw her for the first time ten years ago and it filled me with so much joy and was so stimulating I could hardly stand it. Women playing accordions topless on a stage covered with real carnations. It went straight to my heart. Absolutely thoughtless response, a totally non-intellectual connection to the way she is putting her unconscious out there for us to experience."
Pina would have been 72 today, and on this BAM blog post, you'll find an eclectic assortment of birthday gifts she would have loved. The passion and humor underpinning BAM's thoughtful curation conveys the spirit of friendship that continues to connect the Brooklyn institution to the German Tanztheater Wuppertal, the dance-theater company Pina directed from 1973 until her death in 2009.
For more on Pina's innovative and emboldening philosophy-as-performance, here are our suggestions for a multimedia immersion:
- Check out these two books by Royd Climenhaga, both offering historical and artistic context for her work: "Pina Bausch" (part of the Routledge Performance Practitioners series introducing readers to influential players in theater over the last century) and the soon-to-be-published "Pina Bausch Sourcebook: The Making of Tanztheater."
- This fall, see her final choreographic work, … como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si … (Like moss on a stone), performed as part of the thirtieth annual Next Wave Festival at BAM, the exclusive New York home of her company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. "Set to the contemplative sounds of Chilean folk legend Violeta Parra and guitarist Victor Jara, como el musguito conjures Chile's social dances, distinctive musical tradition, and bustling capital metropolis, while emanating a calm, reflective beauty." -- BAM.org
- Explore this exuberant slideshow showcasing “World Cities,” Pina Bausch’s city pieces (ten works based on residencies all over the world), performed by her company as part of London's recent cultural Olympiad.
- Watch the trailer below for director Wim Wenders' breathtaking, Oscar-nominated 3D documentary, Pina, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011.