Cirque du Pina: Like Moss on a Stone at BAM

10/24/2012 11:30 AM |

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  • Stephanie Berger

The choreographer Pina Bausch can break your heart. But in this, the last show she created before her death in 2009, she wants—wanted—to make us laugh. Structured like a Cirque du Soleil show, “…como el musguito en la piedra, ay, si, si si…” features clownish, punchliney, often surreal group interludes (“this is my fish, and I want to teach it to walk. Not swimming—walking!”) that punctuate the larger set pieces—not acrobatic feats but dance numbers. It feels like everyone in Pina’s troupe, the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, has a personal showcase in this show, not unlike in Wim Wenders’s 2011 documentary.

More traditional circuses also have animals, and the dancers here often behave like different beasts and creatures. The graceful yet coarse movements of non-humans is perfectly suited to Bausch’s style, which is at once classical yet intensely modern and deconstructive. The show opens with a woman on all fours, who yips like a dog when two men lift and move her; others make simian movements (the dancers sitting in a row, picking at each other’s hair), lift their limbs lumberingly, or run from one side of the stage to the other, as though gone mad in captivity. There’s even a feeding scene, in which what look like bread rolls are tossed out to women in bright outfits, like birds, who catch them in their dresses. Courtship is the dance’s dominant motif—my friend was reminded of a Shakespeare comedy, where couples keep breaking up, realigning, getting back together—though I suppose we could consider them more mating rituals than courtships, dancers not so much performing as presenting, showing off in solo the last gift Pina gave them before she died. Part of me wanted some serious and poignant final statement from her. But it’s warming, even more poignant, to think she went out smiling.

The sold-out run concludes on Saturday.

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