Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pina Bausch - Ten Chi

A big whale fin on the stage.
Cherry blossoms slowly falling for three quarter of the show (including the interval).
A Japanese female dancer being carried by two men: her arms are over their shoulders, and they are running at speed in a circle. Her legs are stretched so her feet barely touch the ground. Her dress and her hair fly in the air. When the movement is repeated later, blossoms cover the floor and fly as they pass.
Three men are brought on stage, their hair gelled to stand up on end. Two take on martial art poses, as if preparing to fight (legs wide apart in a plie, one arm up behind their head, the other stretched towards the opponent). They suddenly look like manga characters. Chairs are brought in and placed under them. They sit.
'I was in Japan and we did a lot of research! We did rice research... errr.... sake factory research... ikebana research, no, no ikebana research...'
The female Japanese dancer uses a white piece of cloth in different fashions on her head: if the kerchief is used that way, it's a farmer, that way, it's a businessman etc. 'Are you looking Helene? Are you looking?'
A blonde woman stands on a chair, holding a big block of ice. 'Shall I drop it?' 'Yes' replies the audience. She hands it to a guy standing next to her (not on a chair) 'Oh god it is so cold I can't tell you'. She takes it again. Meanwhile another woman has come in. She crushes a wine glass on the floor, takes off her high heels and stands on the broken glass. 'Why is she doing that?' asks the first woman with the block of ice in her hands. 'Why is she doing it now? I better come back later!'
A French woman enters from the back of the stage. She is channelling a Japanese tourist guide 'I am sorry, I am really sorry, but we have to go now. Very sorry, we should go.' She walks almost out then runs back to the front of the stage 'Oooooh sorry sorry I am really sorry, but I think, maybe, we should go now. We should think we should go now, maybe. I am really sorry.' She turns around then returns 'Ooooooh I am sorry I am so sorry. I think maybe we need to think about leaving all together. We should also think about thinking of leaving now.'
A beautiful solo by a dancer in a black dress - not sure how to describe it. There was sorrow in it (for me).
Dancers running in and out of the stage, performing little bits of choreography at high speed.
A Japanese girl taking surreptitious pictures of her with a tall guy. When he offers to actually stand with her in the picture, she simply bows politely, embarrassed.
The Japanese dancer teaching another one how to stand and sit properly, moving her arms, legs and head in the correct position.
'Can you snore?'
A woman counting the fingers of the audience members on the front row.
An actress speaking cliche Japanese words: 'Fuji-yama! Fuuujiyama! Fa-fe-fo-fi-fu-fai-fei-foi-fujiyama!'
Roaring laughter of dancer bringing a cherry blossom, a marrow and spring onions on stage.
Male dancers carrying female dancers on their backs.

Some of the music used in Ten Chi
Balanescu Quartett - Still with me
Robert Wyatt - La Ahada Yalam (No one knows)
Beth Giddon & Rustin Man - Funny time of year
Shizuko Kasagi - Sentimental Daina
Gustavo Santaolalla - Should I let her know (21 Grams soundtrack)


Anonymous said...

And what did this mean to you? All the reviewers talk about what happens, how inventive she is, about her reputation, but the elephant in the room is how you feel about the piece. I lived in Japan for a year and a half. I walked out at the interval, insulted.

ben - studioincovent said...

hi anonymous!
Thanks for the comment! (I never get any!) I keep it factual for two reasons:
1. I work for the Barbican so I feel it is inappropriate for me to to be very vocal about shows presented there. I don't want people to dismiss my opinions for that reason, so I keep it simple and don't voice them.
2. I decided not to write reviews for those Pina Bausch shows because I think it's simply too difficult to know what the choreographer meant sometimes, and therefore to judge whether she was successful. Also, I feel a lot of emotions watching her works, and I find it hard to describe them, I just don't have the skills for that.
On Ten Chi: I really enjoyed it. It felt so soothing in a way that Viktor or Nur Dur were not. Some of the dancing was stunning.
What made you feel insulted?
I was there with four Japanese friends who really enjoyed it, and were quite moved, particularly in the first half when the woman danced to a poetic song about the atomic bomb.
I can see some bits could be cliche, and others have no relations to the place. I kind of wonder what I would thought had she made a piece about France...