Culture & Art


The beginning of a new era has begun. Much preoccupation and thoughtful reflections about the destiny of the majestic and worldwide beloved Pina Bausch Company and Oeuvre have been raising up since the mother of Tanz-Theatre passed away. After almost nine years two choreographers have been invited to work with the exceptional Ensemble. The first piece, titled Seit Sie is by Dimitrimis Papaioannou. The Greek choreographer comes from a background in painting and scenography and his personal framework is clearly emerging in this collaboration. References to art images are merged with mythological allegories creating an assemblage of resemblances. Tribute to Pina Bausch, it has the important and vital contribute of seventeen dancers of the Company engaging in a theatrical and scenography playground where they become actors of a constant moving painting.

Poor materials as paper tubes and chopsticks with some Pina Bausch’s scenography elements such as wooden chairs and long tables are inhabiting the space and become the tools with whom the performers interact and move. The hill, main presence in the scenography created by Tina Tzoka is composed by foamy grey mats on a gloomy platform and they will be used in various forms and with diverse intentions still remaining shady. The composition and prospective of the scenography results quite even mainly due to the poorly lit stage.

Fragility, insecurity, precariousness resonate in a dim and circus-like setting. Sounds of produced noises in real time composed by Thanasis Deligiannis find their meaning on a silent surface counter posed to lyrics of diverse sources that suddenly interrupt creating a disharmonious discontinuance. A general sense of hesitation and suspension invade the space.

The piece opens up with an ongoing chain of chairs that the dancers build while moving casually and clumsily on and forward them. A standing figure, embodied by Scott Jennings, balances precariously on an upside down chair looking at the horizon. Ditta Miranda Jasjfi keeps climbing and descending the staged hill holding a tree with attached roots as a contemporary lost Sisyphus; probably symbolizing the constant struggled search to establish somewhere. Oleg Stepanov takes the form of a Golem moving uncoordinated, cloddishly and confused across the stage. Michael Strecker cleans and flagellates himself with branches, Blanca Noguerol Ramírez with glasses full of water on her long hair is hauled in the shadowiness while Julie Anne Stanzak drags a chair with an impassive, superior attitude as an unearthly figure.

Hope with a sense of resignation, misplacement, self-condemnation and disguised pleasure are some of the reflections looking at these day-dreaming moving images. References to the migration phenomenon but also to the destiny of the Company strongly evoke in particularly when they all gather on flipped tables rolling over long paper tubes sliding from one side to the other of the stage, as they were moving with difficulties and without a specific destination.

Many representations remind of painting and sculpture masterpieces. Long sticks in Ophelia Young’s hair recall the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini irradiated by the Holy Spirit in a pagan setting. Ekaterina Shushakova wears a plastic gummy black dress pierced with twigs by four men evoking the martyrdom of St Sebastian by Mantegna. In this case, far away from suffering, it appears as a sensual entertainment game where the men seem to be in adoration while she discreetly enjoys it. Sensuality and prohibition are represented by Julie Anne Stanzak who wears a beautiful slinky dress that changes into black-gold with the touch of Milan Kampfer. This latest, will be surrounded by mischievous women as he finds himself naked and ashamed on a table and then on the middle of the stage. Nuances of escapism and hedonism pulsate together with paradoxes, idiosyncrasies and perplexing happenings that take space and generate a sense of puzzlement and interrogation.

The costumes, designed by Thanos Papastergiou, are usually dark with some exceptions and particular creations such as a dress made out of Greek tavern table cloth that moves softly and airy as the graceful dancer moves and is being moved on stage and on a floating table.

The piece goes on with Breanna O’ Mara that as an innocent and tantalising creature covered by big leaves is chased by four men trying to captivate her. She will then reach the top of the hill to slide down with other dancers in a sort of dragging cascade of abandoned bodies. At the same time Scott Jennings takes the form of a statue-like presence coming out from a paper sarcophagus. Nude, disoriented, with long tubes on his arms, he wears some bells around the neck that lengthen down to his genitals and make the ring reverberate as he slowly walks. Interactions with Breanna O’Mara follow generating illusional and bizarre body compositions reminding figures of Hieronymus Bosch paintings.

In general, ethereal beauty of enchanting female figures and pale skinned, sculptured bare male bodies are clear reminisce about greek sculptures and their eternal allure. Within the composition, numerous forms of oddity and illusions compare ephemeral as the constant fugacious representative moments don’t allow to grab the multitude of simultaneous momenta. The greek identity and allegories are explicit. All in all a diegesis seems to be missing and the piece appears in progress with many ideas floating in an indefinite dramaturgy. Could be that the short time to create the piece has contributed to an awaiting completion or possibly is the intended and motivated will of the Greek choreographer. The beautiful performers, that in this piece have very few occasions to dance, are nevertheless extraordinary.

About The Author

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Veronica Posth

Veronica Posth studied History of Art at the University of Glasgow (UK) and Florence (IT) specializing in Contemporary Art and Modern Museology. After some years working in a contemporary art gallery in London and collaborating with a creative association promoting Contemporary-Urban Art and Electronic Music in Florence, she gained a Master in Exhibition Design and Curatorial Studies between Florence (IT) and Berlin (DE). She lives and works in Berlin as independent curator and art reviewer. Her main interests are related to contemporary art, dance and music.