For his spectacular and groundbreaking movie, PINA 3D, currently showing at the Irish Film Institute, Wim Wenders chose to film just four of the late German choreographer Pina Bausch’s over forty productions – Cafe Muller (1978); Rite of Spring (1975); Kontakthof (1978), and Vollmond (2006). As well as having had the privilege of being in the Lichtburg rehearsal room with Pina Bausch and her company in Wuppertal itself in the 1990′s for over a year (and to travel in the Schwebebahn on a daily basis), I was lucky enough to see Vollmond live at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in October 2010. While there I took the opportunity to catch up with some of Pina’s key collaborators, talking about Vollmond (which was created during the time of Hurricane Katrina, and the Tsunami), working with Pina, and how to carry on after the genius choreographer’s untimely death in July 2009. Here are some excerpts.
Dancer Julie Stanzak (that’s her on the cover of the Vollmond CD), from America originally, came to Wuppertal to dance with Pina a few decades ago. Here’s a little snippet of a conversation I had with herself and Helena Pikon in the restaurant of their Brooklyn Hotel (hence the atmos)…
Fernando Suels – if you have seen PINA 3D, you saw him dancing for ‘joy’, and ‘the pleasure of movement’, to ‘Fat Ass Joint’ by Amon Tobin in Vollmond, joined by the whole cast. He’s from Venezuela, and has been dancing with Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal since 1995. I caught up with him on October 5th in Brooklyn, New York, while he was performing Vollmond at BAM. You can listen to our chat here:
Matthias Burkert – Normally out of sight, sitting at the sound desk, in PINA 3D, you may have spotted Matthias in the background once, sitting on a bench outside the Wuppertaler Schauspielhaus with his beatbox on the bench beside him. In the foreground, Jean-Laurent Sasportes, sporting a 3-piece suit was dancing a quaint and eye-catching number. As you will hear, below, Matthias was Pina’s close musical collaborator for over thirty years. This conversation is full of rare first-hand insights into what it was like being on a wavelength with one of the greatest genius artists of our time. Given Bausch’s famous taciturn nature, it’s no surprise to hear him referring to it at times as being like mind-reading. “You watched her from the side, and you could see it already in her eyebrow, that the right eyebrow was lifting, or going down, or she started to smoke a cigarette. I mean all the signs, we knew them. And we knew ‘forget about it’. And we stopped the music and said OK – we try the next one…”
I’ve seen PINA 3D twice so far, and hopefully will see it once more this week. I’m thrilled everybody can enjoy Pina Bausch’s exquisite, quirky, strange and beautiful work now, through Wim Wenders’ sensitive lens. And I’m reassured now I have 3D evidence that I didn’t just hallucinate the whole Wuppertal thing. I wonder when we can get the DVD to play on a loop, over and over again at home in Dublin.
And watch this space – Tanztheater Wuppertal will be performing not one, but ten pieces from their magnificent repertory during the London Olympics next year. Pina may be gone, but she is not forgotten. Far from it. Maybe this is another case of (as I mentioned in my last post) ‘the end is where we start from’. Who ever said dance has to be ephemeral?
Deirdre Mulrooney‘s book, ‘Orientalism, Orientation, and the Nomadic Work of Pina Bausch’ was published by Peter Lang in 2002. She has written several articles, and given academic papers on the work of Pina Bausch. Her second book, ‘Irish Moves, an illustrated history of dance and physical theatre in Ireland’ was published by The Liffey Press in 2006. She has contributed to many books on theatre and dance, and is co-editor and co-founder of VULGO.ie.
These interviews were made possible by the kind support of a Travel and Training Award from the Irish Arts Council. Deirdre’s PhD research on Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal at the University of Cologne was made possible by an annual scholarship from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).