List of Pina Bausch Experiences


Again I did my yearly pilgrammage to BAM for the New Wave Festival. This time seeing Pina Bausch’s Vollmond. I’ve been thinking about how to write about it since we took the train back. It was a beautiful performance, but that’s expected. What else was it? I keep asking myself this. I tried to talk to Jimmy about it on the train. It was so unreal, so unearthly. I blame a little of my feelings on D.H. Lawrence and The Rainbow (which I was finishing the day we went to the show). But I’m still caught on this “not here” feeling that I had about the performance. As if its articulation and expression had nothing to do with the world.  That it was lift-off.

Crap, right? That’s what I think too. But I tell you, there’s nothing to point to in the performance. I’m not going to talk about all the little things you  can talk about. Some were cute, some not. Some were poignant, some not. That’s secondary, tho. The majority of the performance was sweeping, seismic, uncanny. I’m drawn back into old notes from class for relief:

When Schilder talks about the capacity of one part of the body to feel what another part of the body is feeling. Finding these hidden extremes that may be open or shut at certain moments…

The question that Lacan deals with… construction of the body through shattering of the image… the perfect space of the body is disrupted…

If it’s true that there is a psychological space between object and self, the space can be filled in with a politics of affect

Cafe Muller

I saw my first Pina Bausch performance 10 years ago, in Matthew Causey’s Introduction to Performance Studies at Georgia Tech. 10 years ago! I keep thinking. Cafe Muller. Causey screened an excerpt in class and I took it home, writing what I think might be the 2nd worst paper I’ve ever written.  I remember thinking how wonderful.  ‘Look what can happen.’  One the THE things I’ve really seen and probably the reason I scuttled up to NYU to make it happen again. But it’s weird to think that. Because I implicitly knew even then that I couldn’t write about stuff that that. It was this hulking presence for me – so apart from me – and I just wanted to be blown away.

Later, at NYU I was lucky enough to have a whole class on Pina Bausch. Taught by André Lepecki – one of the best because he so rarely taught anything. The whole class was a kind of rumination that I liked at the time, but certainly didn’t grasp. I went to Lincoln Center to watch videos of old performances and picked the “hardest one” to write about. The least appealing one. Then I wrote the worst paper ever. More deluded then because I already had that first Bausch experience under my belt.

Bamboo Blues

Onward now to Bamboo Blues, which I saw with PK one winter – the winter of the beginning of the end, I think now. I remember being so excited about showing him this part of my education – “part of my education…” like I was a character in my own little novel. I looked at him after the show with some amount of expectation and I swear,  he literally brushed it off of him and stood up. I remember being absolutely horrified at the time, ready to revolt! But now, hmmm, I think it only right that he did that. I wielded Bausch around. I felt I was in on it.  But it’s not a club you can be in, this feeling about dancing. It’s an outsideness and its on the brink of being completely lost (just teetering on the edge there). There’s no freaking initiation.

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