I had a chance to see the work of PIna Bausch at BAM a couple of weeks ago. This is my 3rd performance, I believe I saw Right of Spring years ago, Bamboo blues and this last one was Aqua- which was so vibrant and full of life. I left the theatre electrified.
I can assume many of you are not familiar with Pina's work and I would encourage you to see if there is an upcoming performance near you, or at least see Wim Wender's excellent documentary on her work called PINA.
I feel and "see" dance as a very important inspiration in my work. It's visceral and I don't directly create work in response to a dance performance. Seeing dance (contemporary dance mostly) tugs deeply and it is a somatic experience for me. When I first saw Pina's work it changed what I thought about dance. It was in the mid 2000's and I was just starting to make enough money to go see performances and explore all the culture the city had to offer. Her dancers move in fluid, but also awkward ways, she uses all parts of the human form, fingers, hair, sight..It is theater, dance, visual arts all combined in a few hours experience. And I love that I see dancers for decades in her company and recognize them through pieces. She infuses theater and blends the ridiculous and humorous in so skillfully. She paints pictures of life's experiences and takes you on a journey that is physical, emotional, philosophical, theatrical, enlightening. Pina is asking for your presence throughout her performances as she's changing the mood every few minutes. She's jolting you out of complacency.
What I respond to is the repetition. I tend to work through repetition as it is a way to "work through" the idea. This means trying to get to the best rendition of a perfect piece I have in my head, as much as it has to do with getting to the flow that repetition offers. Each time you work through something it is different. It can also offer an insight (satori) into another piece, which I so welcome.
During the first 15-20 minutes of Aqua a few weeks ago, I realized that it's been almost 15 years since she passed away, yet I was acutely aware of her presence through each dancer on stage. Our physical bodies are gone yet our energy is imbued in our work. What a powerful way to transcend physical existence as creative people.
I can't even begin to classify my pieces in the same way- but I am grateful that there are bits and pieces of me in this world, and I reflected on that during intermission.
Case in point was seeing one of the ushers that was showing us our seat, wear a pair of earrings I designed maybe 7-8 years ago for Robert Lee Morris. Small little nod and acknowledgment of my experience.
I don't know Pina, but I feel she understood us and found ways to bring light to the human condition through play, force and love, and I am really thankful for that. I really feel you Pina!