Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review- Carnations- Pina Bausch

"I am not interested in how people move, but what moves them."- Pina Bausch

The men jumped and lept like bunnies within the field, until they were told to stop by a societal figure.

I saw Carnations last night by the Tanztheatre Wuppertal Pina Bausch. I'm not sure if I understood everything that happened in this piece but it was very beautiful and had a really nice moments in it.
The first thing to talk about when you discuss this piece is the director/choreographer Pina Bausch. She is one of the founders of modern movement in theatre today and one of the most influential people on the works of famous artists such as: Robert Wilson, Anne Teresa, Bill T. Jones and Alain Platel. In a Bausch production you are not going to see traditional dance. If you go expecting this then you are going to be disappointed and most likely will leave the theatre early. Bausch's work is a merging of imagery, poetry, dance, posing and gutteral screaming typically. In Carnations, the music began with George Gershwin's, The Man I Love. This song would be repeated many times through out the show and the use of sign language and communication became a strong theme within minutes. Many languages were used by cast members to communicate with each other and audience and we were exposed to Cantonese, Mandarin, Engish, French, German, Japanese and even a touch of Russian.

Below is a promo video for Carnations by the Hong Kong Arts Festival. In it you can see the use of language and the beautiful set for this production.

The scenery of Carnations was pretty self explanatory. Thousands of individually placed carnations into the stage. As the cast moved within them the flowers became crushed and broken and the field which was so beautiful in the beginning ended up looking trampled and sad. The Utopian field was eventually made ugly and broken as it was used up by the world. There was a lot of post WW2 imagery within the show as well: the eating of raw potatoes, rubbing raw onions on their faces, 1950's style ball gowns adorned the bodies of both the male and female cast members, the use of German Police dogs patrolling the outside of the stage. This made me think it had something to do with the state of Europe post the war, but due to the large screaming as cast members dove in faux suicides on stage I'm thinking perhaps it had something more to do with war, death, totalitarianism, and love in general rather than one specific time period. The suicide jumpers had strong imagery ties to the twin towers attack on 9/11 as the dancer screamed: "They are falling! They are jumping! Help them!" The rest of the world continued to dance and ignore her cries as the dancers lept from towers onto cardboard boxes to symbolize suicide.
The use of height and humor in Bausch's piece.
I am still mulling over this piece in my head. I am not sure I fully understand it but I know I liked it. I think perhaps the overall theme is "Love in a cruel world." The characters in the show teach us as an audience how to embrace one another in a hug, the characters play happily and freely until a policeman asks for their papers, the dancers strive to communicate with everyone in the audience no matter what language or hearing capability. Is it possible for us as a society to love one another and treat each other with kindness when the world is so horrible to us? The world around us is turned into an ugly place and we are the ones who have to make the decision whether to give into the world and increase the suffering or fight the world we live in and love one another. That's my current feelings on Carnations, but I have a feeling once I think on it some more I'm going to have a different opinion.

The removal of the boxes from the stage!

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