'New Piece I: Since She', Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch - Sadler's Wells

February 20, 2019

When mythical Tanztheater Wuppertal graces London with a visit to Sadler’s Wells, dance aficionados are presented with an unmissable opportunity to (re)connect with Pina Bausch, the company’s iconic artistic director from 1973 until her death in 2009. The German choreographer was instrumental in developing a new kind of dance, relieved from a purely formal focus, instead mimicking movement, acting and scenography. Revered throughout the world, her powerful work touches audiences by revealing on stage the unseen.

 

Today’s prime heir to Pina’s immense choreographic legacy, the company takes a turn towards the future. Ten years after her passing, the ensemble dances to works commissioned by other choreographers for the first time (tellingly presented as New Piece I and New Piece II).

 

New Piece I, baptised Since She, choreographed, conceptualised and directed by Dimitris Papaioannou, is quintessential of the Greek artist’s work. Mysteriously showcasing a plethora of myths, the piece displays hypnotic waves of striking visual tableaux. As the first notes of the Prelude to Lohengrin repeatedly resonate, the audience is notified that we are entering the realm of gods and myths in a similar way than in Wagner’s opera. A dancer appears among the trees as Eve, the symbol of the temptress, tangling a fruit in front of men. She turns into a naked Venus as birthed by Cabanel. A mothering force looms over the group, sometimes adorned by a golden halo. Sisyphus is spotted repeatedly carrying up a burden up a hill.

 

However, it is, at the same time, deeply infused with constant quotes of Pina Bausch’s body of work. Sisyphus is a woman carrying a tall tree on her back as seen in …como el mosquito en la piedra, ay si, si, si... When the dancers first enter the stage by treading on chairs that they struggle to place forward, one can only immediately think of her iconic Café Müller. When the performance is nearing its end, a dancer carefully stacks all the chairs on his back until he disappears under them. Seemingly, Papaioannou presents the audience with a candid display of his relationship to Bausch’s immense legacy, and the huge meaning carried by his creative interaction with her company.

 

New Piece I - Since She, Dimitris Papaoiannou, Tanztheater Wuppertal © Julian Mommert

 

Papaioannou’s loving homage permeates through every aspect of the piece. References to Kontakthof are omnipresent through the performers’ costumes and the repeated staged opposition between women and men. The choreographer however rewrites these phases of contact in his own enhanced visual style. The women circularly flow across the stage, sweepingly taking over the men’s linear and brutal oppositions. The imagery created by Papaioannou is extremely striking, less dreamlike and geared towards emotions than Pina’s, but more crafty and ingenious, rich in illusions by deconstructing and reshaping bodies into mythical figures.

 

After a decade of solely performing Pina Bausch’s Stücke in a frozen state of the company’s repertoire, the dancers have been part in another creation process, taking over a new style. They widely succeed at the endeavour, appearing comfortable interpreting the Greek artist’s work. The veterans of the company stand out by their aura, reflecting the special attention Bausch brought to selecting and fostering her performers. The newest dancers, yet just as brilliant, are less reflective of Pina’s emblematic touch and, despite the intake of new pieces tailored to the company, the question remains of what will become its new identity.

 

New Piece I - Since She, Dimitris Papaoiannou, Tanztheater Wuppertal © Julian Mommert

 

 

Edited by Dimitrina Dyakova, Deputy Digital Editor

New Piece I: Since She

by Dimitris Papaioannou

for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

Feb 14 - Feb 17

Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R London

 

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