Daughter C is a dancer. Several years ago she alerted us to the movie Pina, a documentary about German dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch. Her modern dance ideas developed into a style known as Tanztheater – or Dance Theater which has its roots in Expressionism. We highly recommend the movie, but you can also get a sense of her creative choreography with this video and this one, too.
Pina died in 2009 during the filming of the movie, but her company continues, performing her groundbreaking works, although I think that new works by other choreographers are afoot.
One of the reasons that C chose Germany for our visit was to see a Pina Bausch production in Wuppertal, about 4 hours west of Berlin. After our seven days in Berlin, we splurged on a first-class train ride across northern Germany.
The work we saw is called Kontakthof, three hours (including intermission) with 23 dancers. With our 5th row seats, we had a great view of the dancers’ facial expressions and gestures. (For future reference, if you ever buy tickets in this theater, the 6th row might be just a bit better than 5th as they sit up a little higher.)
Kontakthof (courtyard of contact), created in 1978, uses minimal staging with chairs around the perimeter and a mechanical horse on the side. I found out later that Pina choreographed this piece for three different age groups – teens, middle-aged and people over 65. I think we must have seen the middle-aged version. The story revolves around various romantic encounters which were funny, energizing, absurd and also cringe-worthy in places.
The spoken word comes in as many languages as the multi-national cast.
We would all agree that this was a highly memorable highlight of our vacation.