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Pina Bausch: an hommage

The world leaders series is an ambitious undertaking: to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Harbourfront Centre by honouring some of the twentieth century's greatest creative minds, from a wide spectrum of fields: art, fashion, design, dance, song, architecture, theatre, film.

Each evening is different, each with its own author to design the tribute. Some evenings were fairly straight forward (the songwriter evenings have featured - surprise! - a lot of singing). Some subjects had the potential to inspire something amazing (which sadly didn't materialise in the case of the Robert Lepage hommage. Having heard the gossip about what went on in the staging, I'm not too surprised anymore by the triteness of the evening - but that doesn't make it any less disappointing to see such a marvellous opportunity squandered!)

The tribute to pina bausch falls into this second category - there is so much material to work with! So much choreography, the fantastic scenic design her wupperthal company is famous for; Pina Bausch is a pioneer who invented the new form of dance/theatre. But as always, I am left wanting more. More rock less talk!

We were lead from dinner to performance by local tango company, Los Milongueros. Local critic Michael Crabb, host of the evening, explained Bausch's fascination with tango, seguing into a video of the Tanztheater Wupperthal which Bausch herself had brought. As Crabb so rightly said, "The video is nice, but next time, bring your company!"

Peggy Baker, luminescent as ever, performed a piece she had created for the evening, her long sinewy limbs reminiscent of Bausch's muscularity. Baker's ability to wring meaning and emotion from movement is unrivalled in this country, in both choreography and performance.

After a short toast byt critic Norbert Servos, a processional of local dance artists methodically littered the periphery of the stage with flowers, a "deconstructed bouquet" (Crabb's words, not mine).

Finally, we were treated to bausch's own choreography: a forceful pas de deux (excerpted from Sola) performed by members of Holy Body Tattoo. Beginning as a fight, violent with emotion, the dancers dissolve into a tango, into moments of graphic intimacy and intensity.

After local dancer kate alton and dancemakers choreographer serge bennathan had paid their tribute in words, the evening ended, as all of these evenings do, with an interview, in this case a roundtable with Crabb, Servos, Bausch, and her designer Peter Pabst. I struggled to hear Bausch's words, but the interview did not last long enough to allow anyone to really say anything anyway. But there was a wonderful moment when her culture clashed with cold Canada's - someone forgot to bring Pina's cigarettes! She managed to snag a pack from someone in the front row, and chained through the remainder of the evening.

Pina Bausch and the Tanztheater Wupperthal are currently appearing in New York City.

For more reviews, please check the archives.

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