Monday, March 14, 2011

REVIEW: Carnation (Nelken) by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theater, Sunday March 13

The works of Pina Bausch are like the dance theatre adaptation of the durian fruit; one either likes it a lot or dislikes it a lot. Her works brings out unconditional love or passionate hate. Every performance tends to be peppered with people leaving prematurely and people staying and applauding ardently.

This piece is entitled Carnation for the obvious reason. The whole stage is transformed into a field of pink carnations. This is THE idea and it was meant to be seen and soaked up before they get trampled and strewn around. And when I say “before”, I meant the moment one steps into the theatre. I believe that it was meant to evoke the feeling of peace and innocence. It didn’t take long before irony seeped into the piece; it started with an actor performing sign language to Gershwin’s The Man I Love, an immediate discontentment in contrary to the visual image presented.

What came after was a series of episodes that exposed childlike pleasures and pettiness. The lovely field of carnations that the performers were very careful not to disturb was slowly razed as the piece move along. The idyllic environment where the performers can dress or undress as they please, play games, hop around like rabbits were interrupted periodically by security guards with German shepherd dogs, and an official checking for passports. This show of authority slowly progressed to humiliating episodes like performers having to rub raw onions on their face or a woman being forced-fed.

Amazingly, the performance was interesting enough to make me want to see what else was coming; but now that I have seen everything, I can’t help but feel like the whole thing was a let-down. One can keep on thinking and analyzing the whole performance and try to make sense out of it, or just ask oneself whether one likes it or not, would recommend it or not; or would watch it again or not. My answer is I didn’t like it, wouldn’t recommend it and will not watch it again… and this is coming from somebody who likes Pina Bausch’s works.

Carnation (Nelken)

Creative Team:
Director and Choreographer: Pina Bausch
Artistic Directors: Dominique Mercy, Robert Sturm
Set Design: Peter Pabst
Costume Design: Marion Cito

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At March 18, 2011 at 7:34 PM , Anonymous HT said...

Was expecting your 'verdict' Satoshi, well, I'm def in the 'unconditional love' camp! So moved and lucky enough to see the same dancer Lutz Forster perform the same number The Man I Love Do after 27 years, here in HK, it's just surreal! Check this out from 1983 Nelken:

At March 21, 2011 at 2:09 AM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

Thank you HT, so you just proved my point! Haha! Yes, I saw that video and can't believe that's him! Funny that the sign language actually made the song louder! It just made me understand the song in a different way. Thanks!


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