Pina Bausch: Tanztheater Wuppertal – Berkeley, Ca

I had never heard of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal. I figured it was modern performance dance art ballet stuff. Meeting (dating) someone new you also meet their interests- interests that maybe should introduce you to things outside your experiences. (More later about opposites and attraction and E-Harmony).


The BART is the coolest thing so we jumped it to Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. Nice ride then we walked a few blocks through Berkeley to the hall. Crowd was a diverse mostly white eclectic bunch with a brother or two (in dreads) and some African-Americans and splashes of all cultures who appreciated dance. Beautifully lit- contemporary elegant hall with gorgeous staircases and chandeliers in wonderful carpeted acoustics. This is just the entrance and lobby.

First thing on stage was a black female with deep down in the bijou negro acoustic music. She said “I am here and you are there” with Carribean type accent. Then she moved to the side and then off the stage into the audience, retrieved a costumed dancer, took them back on the stage then returned to that person’s seat and said “Now I am here and you are there. Do something good.”

That set the tone and as a “distraction” got our attention to focus on her. Notice I did not say she “walked” off the stage. Looking back it was much more than just a walk. Her movement was subliminally seductive and put a mood on the room. And this crowd was sitting stiller and quieter than interstellar space. But just like a concert, the room had a collective vibe. A type of cereberal based caucasian spiritual connecting I call it, like in Catholic mass (which I’ve always loved, even though I know a room this full of black folks could not ever be this still). That with the acoustics, lighting, music, sensual movements and vocals all combined into one very stimulating sensory conscious altering mostly drug free experince.

When the dancers movements became my focus that is when I began to really enjoy. I stopped trying to figure out the plot and absorbed the emotion and the performances varying displays of emotional energies. Over time the performance and setting became more intimate, and with this the connection to the show and its effect on my senses also intensified.

There was sex in the show as sexual statements which was one thing, but there was nudity that was “not necessary” and obviously inserted for shock or appeal or both. There were “actions” that seemed out of place and I think to give the audience an emotional break.

Gender roles were completely bent, shit broken. One of the main characters was a male in drag with high heels who moved so gracefully as female gendering was easily unconsciously distorted. And not so much his panties or his long monologue about his exaggerated ruffled red panties she wore in his “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” makeover.

All this and everything is performed with smooth artistic beautiful movement. I got the feeling that what the dancers were “acting out” was deliberately not relevant and not meant to have deep meaning. HOW the dancers moved and how that made me feel was the point. Everything had a graceful coordination about it. The music and recorded songs on that magnificiant sound system also intensified the mood and stimulation. I took them as european ethnic folk songs expressing deep heavy emotion.

The key for me is to become involved and “buy in” to the performance, whatever it may be. If I agree with or even understand whats going on or not, I try to absorb and feel what is being expressed. I like to become a part of the experience which encompasses who I’m with, the BART ride, the walk, the venue, the audience, the stage, the performers and the performance…

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