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dirac

Life after Pina?

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A thoughtful review by Ilona Landgraf in her blog, "Landgraf on Dance."

Where is Tanztheater Wuppertal five years after Pina Bausch's death? She had been the troupe's core and driving force. On entering Wuppertal's opera house one bumps first into a stall offering Pina Bausch books and posters. The audience sitting near me spoke reverently about 'her' pieces and when 'she' did them. Compare this with Stuttgart Ballet, for example, which has John Cranko at its heart. The Stuttgart is a most vivid company. It amalgamates looking forward with its vital history. I remember a comment by Vladimir Klos (one of Stuttgart Ballet's former key dancers and now the associate artistic director of State Ballet Karlsruhe) at a panel discussion in celebration of the 50th birthday of Cranko's “Romeo and Juliet” in late 2012. Klos spoke of Cranko's spirit, which still would be present at Stuttgart's opera house. He was right. In Wuppertal, however, Pina Busch's spirit has gone.

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Very interesting! Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I saw Tanztheater Wuppertal a few times back in the early 80s.

Just a few months ago I had the opportunity to go back and see another performance (not one I had seen before, though).

The difference between the "older" dancers, those who had actually worked with Pina for many years (and there are still more than just a few, it seems, actively performing) and the newer, younger ones was somewhat striking.

It is as if the newer dancers are more involved with the steps, such as they are, and they faithfully "reproduce" what was before. It does not seem "spontaneous" and as if they "own" what they are doing. Or so it seemed to me. Surely just subjective.

The comparison with Stuttgart Ballet under Cranko and now is intriguing. Of course, Cranko died a very long time ago; the company has had a lot of time to find their way and incorporate his "spirit" into the current company without turning him into an icon.

I also wonder if the fact that a ballet dancers' career is often significantly shorter than a dancer who does the sort of thing Pina Bausch did could have any influence on the way things are going?

Or are they all financial reasons? Wuppertal is not Stuttgart, by any means.

It will be interesting to see what happens; how things develop.

-d-

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Can you paraphrase what was said in the article? It appears to not be available to those who are not signed-up for the NYTimes?

Thanks. :)

-d-

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The news article is titled "Another New Director for Tanztheater Wuppertal" and discusses how Adolphe Binder, the director of the GoteborgsOperanDanskompani, will become the new director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal in May 2017. She will be the fourth director to run the company since Pina Bausch's death in 2009. Unlike the previous directors, she has no direct connection to Bausch or the Tanztheater Wuppertal.

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Thank you! That was helpful. I wonder what the reasoning was in hiring her to take over?

Perhaps they have had enough of trying to "be" Pina again and again; perhaps they really want to start something new?

-d-

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The article points out that in September they presented their first program of works not by Bausch.

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That is good. Some of my students attended one of the shows. The general tenor of the few reviews I read here was that, well, the company is becoming "another pretty decent contemporary company", of which there are actually quite a few.

That is why I was a bit surprised by the decision to hire someone totally not from the "Bausch" camp. :)

So, it will be interesting to see how things continue for them!

-d-

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We've talked in many different places on this website about the difficulties that a company has when their founder dies (or needs to step out). Between George Balanchine, Jose Limon, Antony Tudor, Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, Trisha Brown, Laura Dean, and all the others, we've seen a multitude of strategies tried, and many of them discarded -- the Wuppertal ensemble is in good, but beleagured company with this phase.

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sandik -- I would rank your list as follows:

Balanchine (very healthy)

Limon (healthy)

Tudor (largely shrunken to ABT but healthy there)

Ailey (very healthy)

Graham (healthy in terms of ability to view but increasingly difficult to bring to life)

Cunningham (shrinking fast)

Nikolais (hanging on at Ririe-Woodbury)

Louis (dead [no offense intended])

Brown (shrinking fast)

Dean (dead -- killed by the choreographer's own hand)

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After attending the penultimate "Proscenium Works" Trisha Brown program at the University of Washington last night, I met my sister for breakfast today and (lacking a balletomane friend to rehash the night) did what balletomanes do and subjected the poor woman to a lengthy one-sided historical review of this very topic.

One of my crackpot ideas was that a school and a unique technique seem the best indicators of survival. It's less a matter of the quality of the choreography and more that a reasonably large amount of people have made an investment in a quite specific style.

It's one of the reasons I fear for Brown's lovely dances: you can't patent skips and shrugs. (In some ways, the early works that involve heavy rappelling equipment seem more likely to survive.)

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I'm always grateful for my sister, who has been my date to all kinds of things, including the (Wo)man Walks Down a Wall at Meany Hall on Friday morning -- a truly beautiful event.

I don't know that your notion (about a school and a specific technique being a good indicator of longevity) is so crackpot, except that no matter how sterling the existing repertory, we seem to need an infusion of new works as well as the old ones, or the desire to continue the specific style becomes attenuated.

Using Brown as an example, since we're already here, I went to the talk at the Henry Art Gallery by Susan (cannot remember her last name -- is a curator at a NY-based museum that facilitated the donation of all of Brown's notebooks and drawings) -- one of her points was that Brown herself resisted the idea of making a "technique" or even teaching classes -- she'd do it, since everyone had to, but it wasn't the same kind of laboratory experiment that it is for many other choreographers. Other company members were much more involved with that, and it looks like will continue to be so in some fashion.

As far as patenting "skips and shrugs," you're right, but that also applies to the Duncan repertory. I think one of the essential keys is having ultra-committed players in the process, who want to maintain and share the work. Without that human commitment, it is all lost.

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Tanztheater Wuppertal is performing in London this week, I have a ticket for Thursday. Hugely popular, they always attract sizable audiences and are regular visitors at Sadlers Wells. No falling off of enthusiasm here.

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Now that I've finally seen Jose Limon's Carlota (from 1972) and now that Pina Bausch's successor company is taking in outside works, I think they should take Carlota into their repertory. It's a great Pina Bausch work that Pina Bausch never made. (And she did study with Limon in New York so there's that connection.)

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