Pina Bausch : On the mountain a cry was heard

Absorbing a work by Pina Bausch is a process that fights my natural tendency to understand logically, to define and name things.

She leaves images to work their magic in your mind. She invites you to places that before her could only have been glimpsed out of the corner of your eye… or with Borges, or perhaps in some chemically assisted dreamscape.

She gives a physical dance theatre reality to ideas that for me, without her, would have been left as vague concepts. She brings such impossible things into a sharp physical focus.

Last night what drifted into my mind paraphrased  the opening of the old bbc series “civilisation” …as I recall it through the decades ..  “I don’t know if I can define art, but I am looking at it right now..”

It is pure art. It speaks directly to the part of my brain that resists words, that is somehow primal. Metaphors about nothing, slow repetition, fragments of discomfort and pain.


I watch enthralled as yet again a large man in red underpants patiently and slowly inflates a balloon until it explodes. I watch a woman climb walls and two older men play out a mutual dependency that fascinates me for reasons that I cannot understand. Innocent girls move through their lonely journeys to self awareness while women have their hair pulled in some screaming personal nightmare.

Images follow one after the other making not so much a coherent whole – for there is no logical structure in this place  – but a multidimensional and infinitely rich physical landscape that in some magical sense came from the random wanderings of my own mind.

Such confidence, such faith that the audience would go with her. Daring to present this work on a soil filled stage that immediately cuts off so much of a more conventional dancers vocabulary.

Your cry was heard by me, just as it has been heard by so many that you have touched through your art.

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