When the legendary German modern dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch died suddenly in 2009, a mere five days after receiving a cancer diagnosis, the dance world was unsure what would become of her company, “Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.” The company danced on, honoring their leader’s legacy and continuing to share her works of art with the world.
For nearly a decade, they performed no new work. However, “Tanztheater” recently premiered their first commissioned piece since Bausch’s death, titled “Since She” (Seit Sie, in German). Fittingly, the creator and director of the new piece, Dimitris Papaioannou, describes it as, “a love letter to Pina.”
The highly-regarded Greek artist and choreographer seems a natural choice for the company’s first new work. He is a longtime fan of Bausch and is known for his experimental and deeply visual creations. In “Since She,” Dimitris Papaioannou pays homage to Bausch with an opening scene reminiscent of “Café Müller,” in which the dancers enter and cross the stage by stepping on straight-backed black chairs.
The rest of the piece takes the audience through a surreal and dreamlike journey filled with a multitude of props, furniture, plants and of course, dancers. The costumes, made by Thanos Papastergiou, nearly steal the show. There is a black dress that turns to gold after being stroked and a cream crepe dress that is designed to make the dancer look like she is floating.
While some of the scenes may seem too over the top, even for “Tanztheater,” the performers are always engaging, and the quieter and simpler scenes are truly enchanting. It may take “Tanztheater” some time to find a new post-Bausch aesthetic, but this commission from Papaioannou is a step in the right direction.
Following its run at Sadler’s Wells in London in February 2019, “Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch” will take “Since She” to Théâtre de la Ville at La Villette in Paris, France, from July 8 through July 11, 2019.