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Pina Bausch’s dance-theater has left an indelible mark on Brooklyn (and the world), captivating and confronting audiences, dancers, and choreographers since Tanztheater Wuppertal’s BAM premiere in 1984. The return to BAM of the iconic double-bill Café Müller and The Rite of Spring this past month reminded us of Bausch’s enduring power—to haunt, to dazzle—across time. In recognition of her abiding impact and influence, the Rail ’s coverage is situated in three generational vantage points on Bausch’s career and legacy. The Rail is honored to have dance critic doyenne Deborah Jowitt bringing to bear the long view of the Tanztheater Wuppertal’s lasting sway over the dance world; she is one of the very few who can. Deborah is joined by the dance scholar Clare Croft, and by Rail contributing writer Sariel Frankfurter. If you have a reflection on Bausch’s legacy, tweet it to @gillianjakab or @TheBrooklynRail. —Gillian Jakab
The Brooklyn Academy was packed on July 2, 1984 when Tanztheater Wuppertal made its New York debut. The first of its two programs consisted of Pina Bausch’s Café Müller (1978) and The Rite of Spring (1975), introducing us to Bausch’s aesthetic in ways that I now realize were strategically clever.
Almost every role in Pina Bausch’s choreographic repertory could be catalogued via a close description of feet. Café Müller’s two main women may have the most iconic of Bausch’s foot choreography: the oddly assured sound of their stuttering barefoot shuffles are enduring reminders of the women’s shut eyes.
Like many too young to have seen Tanztheater Wuppertal in New York when Pina Bausch was still alive, my first experience was through the film Pina (2011), a phenomenal way to grasp how and where a Bausch work will hit you: like a wrecking ball to the gut.
Many dear friends of Dorothy spilled into the main theater at Dixon Place to see Antonio Ramos and the Gangbangers (also friends of Dorothy) perform Almodóvar Dystopia.
I can hear low conversation as people gather around a glowing light and write letters to the future. Later, in the deepest part of the night, someone plays the violin. The sound stays with me as I doze off and helps me remember where I am when I open my eyes.
Implied in Crossing the Line Festival’s title are several possible interpretations of the phrase—crossing borders, boundaries of the known, even perhaps going too far.