Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: 1980

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Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: 1980

The power of the late German choreographer Pina Bausch lives on through this incredible performance of ‘1980’, the masterpiece that catapulted her Tanztheater Wuppertal on to the international stage over three decades ago.
After Bausch’s unexpected death in 2009, the company’s future was uncertain, but five years on and in the hands of Lutz Förster – who also performs here – ‘1980’ returns to Sadler’s Wells as spectacular as it was upon its 1982 debut. Förster leads his merry melancholic band of performers on a riotous three hours and 40 minutes that will leave you both elated and exhausted.
In classic Bausch style your conception of dance and theatre disappear as you’re flung into a world of playtime and mayhem. On a sparsely designed stage that’s covered in real grass, dancers recount childhood tales, occasionally dance and enthusiastically interact with the audience by vying for their attention through absurd acts.
‘1980’ was made shortly after Bausch’s partner and long-time collaborator Rolf Borzik died and it is infused with a sense of loss that is now further heightened by the death of its creator. Yet for all its moments of solemn reflection, it’s full to the brim with a celebration of life that is exquisitely conveyed through the age range of the dancers. An indisputable stand out performance comes from 65-year-old Mechthild Grossmann, one of four of the original line-up, whose husky German tones punctuate the air with perfect comedy timing.
Bausch’s ability to emphasise the commonality of human nature with all its erratic emotions through engaging and bewildering performances made her work timeless. In ‘1980’ she excels at moving you from laughter to contemplation as ridiculous rituals prevail and moments of calm are interrupted with utter hysteria. So whether you leave high or spent, you’ve been reminded that we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves, even in the direst of situations.

By: Freire Barnes


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