Saturday, September 8, 2012

Orpheus and Eurydice

Pina Bausch (1940-2009) choreographed Orpheus and Eurydice in 1975 with music from the Gluck opera of 1762 (singers on stage alongside dancers). Paris Opera Ballet added the work to its repertoire in 2005. This past July at Lincoln Center Festival the Paris Opera Ballet danced a fresh production of this early Pina Bausch vision.

I was surprised to see a negative review of the Lincoln Center performance in the New York Times. Fully acknowledging that the Paris Opera Ballet had danced splendidly, the critic went after dead Pina Bausch herself. She had distorted Gluck's libretto. That seemed to be the crime. Melodramatic tableaux vivants rather than a coherent story. Even after forty years the neo-Expressionist Tanztheater still can receive this sort of aggressively ignorant reception, especially in America, Land of the Literal.

The picture below of Pina Bausch taking a bow comes from an earlier production of the dance – with her own company.

The choreographer's earlier Iphigenie auf Tauris of 1973 – a companion piece to the Orpheus – appeared here in 2010.