Viktor – Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

I came across Pina Bausch’s work after her death in 2009 and thanks to Wim Wenders’ 3D tribute. Her world seems drenched in great melancholy and to date I cannot find any other art form that better depicts the absurdity of our lot in life than Bausch’s hybrid choreography. Her creations of theatrical performances created a new vocabulary crossing over between dance and theatre, allowing total freedom of expression to the performers, making each and every one of them the protagonist. Life is a choral performance, there are no solo performances. In Viktor’s case life in all its absurdity dances its way into a huge mass grave, with a gravedigger constantly trying to fill it in. The sound of the detritus falling on stage gently mixes in with the soundtrack of many traditional Italian songs along with classical pieces and Bolivian folk tunes. The effect is soothing and unsettling at the same time. The infinite lines of performers on stage constantly amaze us and challenge our views, our certainties. All is fluid, roles are playfully inverted. On stage we see people being deceived, used, abused, traded. I still feel the chilling cries of the ballerina facing us up close down my spine, I still see the beautiful lines of dancers snaking down the corridors of the theatre in a human dance chain, the rocking waving arms, all movements amplified by the presence of at least 20 dancers on stage, each one at a different stage in their lives, the young alongside the middle aged, the tiny alongside the tall, a multinational lot based in Wuppertal, an industrial northern German city, all brought together by a visionary artist and performer, with a melancholy face. The old guard of performers, her historical companions are still there, carrying the torch. There may be no protagonists but luminous Julie Shanahan’s smiling, graceful performance will be fixed on my retina forever.