Pina Bausch, Storyteller

January 11, 2009

I keep thinking about the poignant story Pina Bausch told when she received her Dance Magazine Award last month. She had such a strong sense of what it meant for her to leave Germany and come to the U.S. as a teenager, and what it meant for Lucas Hoving to wait long hours for her on the other shore. I was affected by her story partly because I knew Lucas as a teacher and performer in the 60s. Long and lanky and perfectly capable of appearing sinister, he made the perfect Iago to José Limón’s Othello in The Moor’s Pavane. His classes combined a challenging ballet barre, the circularity of the Limón technique, and a wry sense of humor. It’s so touching to think of him supporting the new young Juilliard student by waiting for hours on the dock for her. Ms. Bausch graciously connected that memory to her feeling about NYC many years later. In case you weren’t there, here  is the link to her acceptance speech, preceded by Joseph Mellilo’s introduction.

    It also reminds me, like her recent Bamboo Blues at BAM, that every episode she creates onstage tells a story. Whether it’s a pair of people sauntering on a diagonal and folding their towels around themselves, or a woman dunking her face in a bucket of water, or a man and woman lolling on a mattress that rolls on bamboo stalks, each action and interaction tell a story. And you can sense how delicious it is for Bausch to retell the story.