Renowned for putting the theatre hack into dance. German choreographer Pina Bausch is about to plunge Festival audiences into a world where fantasy and reality meet on a bed of 4000 carnations. Ellie Carr gauges Bausch’s influence.

ina Bausch’s dance-theatre is one of extremes. People love or hate it. but no one is blase’. The acclaimed choreographer creates raw. visceral spectacles that assault the senses and etch themselves on the brain. Her casts bring together dancers, actors and ordinary people. and her stages have been filled with dead leaves (Bluebeard). tonnes of mud (Le Sacre du Printemps) and several inches of water (Arien). In Nelken. at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. Bausch carpets the stage with a stunning 4000 pink carnations.

Her influence has been mighty. spawning a trail of admirers across Europe and America

and creating a milestone in the development of

modern dance-theatre. We ask four prominent artists why.

David Alden: director

Alden is an accomplished freelance director who spent five years taking a ‘holiday’ from theatre to direct large-scale opera for high-

profile companies like Covent Garden, Opera North and Scottish Opera. In October 1994. he threw in the freelance towel to take up a permanent position as artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse.

‘I first saw her production 1980 at Sadler’s Wells in London it must have been in the 80s and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Itjust seemed to be everything.

‘lt’s very exciting, you sort of know the world but you don’t know it and it constantly surprises you. I immediately connected with it [1980] and of course. talking with other artists you realise how many people have been influenced by her in a very dramatic way. Her name is sort of like a byword. It’s like a household name in artistic circles. You use it as a term of reference: “Oh very Pina Bausch” or “I want some Pina Bausch-type movement.” It’s a real major event whenever she and the company land in the country . . . Pina Bausch completely liberated people from their set notions of dance.’

Annie Griffin: filmmaker-performer

Griffin has led a colourful career, working in and around the radical fringes of the UK performance art scene nearly all her working life. A formidable artist. she has a personal ‘library’ on Bausch and admits to being almost ‘too influenced’ by her at times. Her multi- media venture It is for my Mouth Forever was shown at the South Bank Centre and the Royal Court. She is currently working on a film about her family for the British Film institute.

‘In the autumn of 1982 the company came to Sadler’s Wells with 1980. She [Bausch] was a legend before that but it wasn’t because critics and theatre people were talking about her. it was because young artists and dancers and performers had heard word of her. That was something special, it wasn’t because there was a write-up in The Guardian.

8 The List 25 Aug-7 Sept 1995

Flower surfing with Nelken (left) and Jan Mlnarlk in Pina Ba

‘It [1980] w as incredible. I had never seen anything like it. The stage was covered in grass. with a little deer at the back. From the moment the performers came on. it was as if you‘d never seen it. but it was about everything you already

‘lt’s like a household name in artistic circles. You use it as a term of reference: “0h very Pina Bausch” or “I want some Pina Bausch-type

movement.” knew it just seemed to restrictions

sweep all formal whether someone was dancing or just standing there. whether they were acting or just being themselves. At the time it ruined me. I think for years I was trying to inhabit the world Bausch created. It was too much of an influence for a long time.

‘Bausch changed the rules of what you could



usch’s Bluebeard from 1977 (right)

do on stage and what it meant to watch a performance. The use of repetition has been so taken up by people like Jan Fabre - and he will say that. he will acknowledge that he has taken things from Bausch. But I think a lot of her staging things were taken by choreographers and directors without being understood. The deeper reasons why she uses repetition and why in Blue/ward, the Bartok piece, She has men endlessly throwing women against the wall have taken longer for people to understand.’

Neil Bartlett: director

Prolific throughout the 80s and early 90s: as performer. director. dramatist. novelist and translator. Bartlett is best known for flamboyant expeditions into the world of the drag artist ll)rcssing Up, .S't'trrasine). He was also one of the first in Britain to tackle the issue of AIDS in theatre (Antibody). Now artistic director of Lyric. llammersmith. he still takes time out to work on the further shores of the avant-garde