Friday, March 2, 2012

Images of the unspoken: dances by Pina Bausch

Polite small talk is a social mask, but in the dances of choreographer Pina Bausch - you simply cannot escape viewing the unspoken subtext.

A severe and menacing man chooses among deeply fearful women who offer him a red cloth. He rejects all but one.  All are distressed. A flock of men poke and prod a woman as if she were a melon, or a small child.

These were among a few vingettes in the film "Pina" - a commemoration of the work of coregorapher Pina Bausch. It's not a biography, nor a documentary really, nor an epic. It sets Bausch's major works in the loose frame of her dancers memories of her - which are admiring and well, sort of oddly worshipful. The film shows them onstage and sometimes takes them dancing out into the city, and country.

I hoped the images present in the dances would be interesting and might inspire a painting or a drawing perhaps a poem also.  (I like to paint the human form in motion, and evoke motion, even in doodling.)  The dances were evocative of human relations and contained quite a bit of visual metaphor. The trailer will give you the idea.....

One scene that really struck me contained a couple embracing. Suddenly another man comes out of the side door and rearranges their embrace - then he picks up the woman and hands her to the man. The nitpicking spectator then goes back behind the door, after which, the man drops the woman. She immediately gets up and flies back to him, and they assume the original pose...  Then, of course, the man comes back out of the side door, rearranges them again, and this whole process repeats over and over and over - and  accelerating faster and faster to an impossible pace.

Finally the man no longer comes out to rearrange them. He doesn't have time and doesn't need to either because they have accepted his expectations and rearrange themselves. They subsequently revert to type, rearrange themselves, revert to type......, repeat, repeat, etc etc  What an odd, wonderful visual metaphor for social expectations and the way we internalize them.