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Fans will be lining up at BAM to see Pina Bausch’s final choreographed work October 18-27 (photo by Laurent Philippe)

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
October 18-27

For more than thirty-five years, German choreographer Pina Bausch changed the face of dance theater, creating unique, memorable, mind-bending works for her innovative and influential company, Tanztheater Wuppertal. Going from the simple to the sublime, the experimental to the monumental, Bausch staged pieces that combined movement and music with dialogue and humor in thrilling ways. Bausch died in 2009 at the age of sixty-nine, leaving behind a lasting legacy captured in such seminal works as Café Müller, Kontakthof, Danzón, Masurca Fogo, Nefés, and Vollmond (Full Moon) as well as her longtime friend Wim Wenders’s Oscar-nominated 3-D documentary, Pina. From October 18 to 27, the final piece she choreographed, “...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si...” (Like moss on a stone), will be performed at the company’s exclusive New York home, BAM. There is nothing quite like experiencing a piece by Bausch, who infused her creations with unexpected twists and turns, social commentary and sexuality, and an overriding love of life, in all its forms. This final work was inspired by the folk music and legends of Chile, featuring a cast of sixteen, with set design by the great Peter Pabst and costumes by Marion Cito. It should be a fond farewell to a true legend.

Anna Wehsarg and Rainer Behr share a tender moment in “...COMO EL MUSGUITO...” (photo by Stephanie Berger)

Update: Clouds of both happiness and sadness hung over BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House as Tanztheater Wuppertal performed the final work choreographed by Pina Bausch, who died in 2009 shortly before “...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si...” (Like moss on a stone) opened. Part of her international residency series, the evening-length piece was inspired by the company’s visit to Santiago, Chile, and features a wide-ranging score, including songs by Chico Trujillo, Victor Jara, Congreso, Mauricio Vicencio Alquinta, Rodrigo Covacevich, and Mecánica Popular as well as Madeleine Peyroux, Count Basie, and the Cinematic Orchestra. Under the leadership of artistic directors Dominique Mercy and Robert Sturm, who promise to keep the company moving forward, “...como el musguito...” is chock-full of Bausch’s trademark touches, both humorous and romantic, but it focuses more on pure dance than usual, with a large number of solos, duets, and trios taking place within the arc of a narrative that examines the never-ending battle of the sexes. On Peter Pabst’s white overlay that occasionally breaks apart into sections like ice floes, the men, in dark pants and shirts, and the women, in elegant, colorful gowns and long hair, kiss, grope, bark, tell jokes, line up on the floor, and run around in circles. Chairs, poles, water, rocks, potatoes, and trees appear onstage, then disappear in a series of sketches that are reminiscent of Laugh-In, only with much better choreography. One of the many joys of Bausch’s work was its unpredictability, and that is as true as ever with “...como el musguito...,” which offers surprises galore. Tanztheater Wuppertal is part of BAM, part of the Brooklyn family, as this long-sold-out run once again proves. As the performers left the stage, it was hard not to shed tears of joy and sadness, though it should be fascinating to see what the company comes up with next as they face the future without their founder, who changed the face of dance theater forever.

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