Pina Bausch’s Vollmond at BAM

It’s been over a week since I saw Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch perform Vollmond (Full Moon) at Brooklyn Academy of Music, yet many of the images from the piece – and the endless downpour of water – still linger in my memory.  The performances marked the company’s first trip to the US since Pina Bausch’s sudden death earlier this year, and although there were brighter moments in this ritualistic, 150-minute dance-theater work (which premiered in 2006), it was overshadowed by a sense of grief and mourning.  All of that water could have easily been buckets of tears.

 

Pina Bausch's "Vollmond", photo by Laurent Philippe

 

I haven’t seen Bausch’s older work, which was apparently much more shocking and groundbreaking than any of her recent dances.  Nothing in Vollmond was earth-shattering, and perhaps it was tame in comparison to the “old” Bausch.  But the twelve dancers were utterly mesmerizing as they frolicked, climbed, kissed, yearned, tumbled, and flung themselves through a nonstop array of dream-like vignettes set against a rainstorm.  A large boulder and a dip in the stage to create a flowing river transported the audience to a separate, mystical setting far from earth.  At full moon, these fierce spirits let themselves go.

Like in many of Bausch’s works, the women played a prominent role in Vollmond. With sweeping evening gowns and tumbling hair, they took on various roles: a giddy girl in love, a loner, a glamorous yet moody seducer, and the one-of-a-kind Nazareth Panadero, who brilliantly delivered many of the quirky lines in the piece with her deep, smoky voice.  Water always framed their shifting emotions and desires.  They bathed in it, rapidly whipped their hair to create sprinklings of water across the stage, floated as though they were dead, and delicately waded across the river.

Sheets of water poured down through much of the second half.  The exhilarating finale included a rapid repetition of nearly all of the vignettes and a water fight that left the dancers soaked and spent.  Water’s myriad meanings came to mind at different points in Vollmond – joy, grief, purification, birth, and fertility, among others.  Yet the most humorous moments in the piece always ended with a hint of sadness, and perhaps a yearning for love.  The sadness became most apparent during the dancers’ bows, where they all appeared exhausted and grief-stricken.  Somewhere in the flowing water and emotions of Vollmond, Bausch’s spirit was certainly present, watching over her company.

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3 Responses to Pina Bausch’s Vollmond at BAM

  1. Stunning dancers and artists. I absolutely love “Vollmond”, such a brilliant vision of the water flying with the dancers.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in Dance: A Look Back « Dancing Perfectly Free

  3. dance lover says:

    Well now that I’m entering the world of Pina by writing about her, the piece (Vollmond) is so different from when I saw it the first time. It is as good as before but for me it’s not just pretty. Pina is magnificent.

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