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HomeUKPina Bausch Kontakthof at Sadler’s Wells evaluate: love’s a battlefield

Pina Bausch Kontakthof at Sadler’s Wells evaluate: love’s a battlefield


he battle of the sexes is fraught at the very best of instances – and nobody had a keener sense of its absurdities and tragedies than Pina Bausch. Her work, from the seminal Café Müller to the mesmeric The Ceremony of Spring, is full of misplaced souls determined for human connection, but who typically discover themselves unable to bridge the divide. “I’m not all for how folks transfer, however what strikes them,” the choreographer famously mentioned. As a substitute of a showcase of bodily virtuosity, her dance-theatre items are a snapshot of human wishes, performed out in all their messy glory. Hope, concern, disappointment, elation – nothing is shied away from.

Kontakthof (tough translation: courtyard of contact) is a living proof. Created in 1978 – however with its theme of social isolation given a brand new resonance within the aftermath of the pandemic – it’s set in a colorless city corridor the place 22 dancers, in numerous darkish fits, vibrant ballgowns and sharp stilettos, meet to torment and flirt with one another towards a soundtrack of Thirties pop songs.

Love on this world is elusive and carried out on a struggle footing, with women and men squaring up on reverse sides – typically fairly actually, by barking orders throughout the stage or eyeing one another suspiciously at a distance. Every part is permissible in pursuit of a mate, and but there don’t look like any winners; amid the myriad relationship video games, there are few situations of actual intimacy. Intercourse is sort of at all times accompanied by bursts of violence ­– kisses morph into bites and slaps with uncomfortable regularity. No marvel then that the ladies are quickly queuing to get their thrills on a classic mechanical horse as a substitute – as soon as they’ve blagged the small change from the entrance row first, that’s.

The size of the present might be an endurance take a look at for performers and viewers alike

/ Reiner Pfisterer

Does it sound slightly joyless? The curious factor is, it’s not. Bausch is especially good at choosing out these small particulars of human fragility which might be additionally very humorous – the anxious preening in entrance of a mirror, the adjustment of a bra strap or the delicate hitching of a knicker line. There are light slapstick components – a chat about fish’n’chips vs curry, a movie about geese and skits involving a toy mouse – that act as the proper counterpoint to a few of the darker moments.

The principle subject – as with many Bausch creations – is it’s a lot too lengthy. The present clocks in at a frightening three hours, and even the briefest blink-and-you’ll-miss-it interval breaks a lot of the temper. Performing Kontakthof is a heady problem for this multi-talented troupe of distinct performers – it shouldn’t be an endurance take a look at for the viewers, too.

Sadler’s Wells, to February 6,

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