The late-lamented Pina Bausch’s original company was going to present all of her her dances created about cities they visited. I had chosen Only You, the piece about Los Angeles, and what a tour de force this was. The company was very generous - a 3:15 min cultural odyssey that made one think, laugh, and wonder.
Right from the start, a few of us (certainly the front rows) were also quite shocked by the very deliberate nudity of these amazing women in their high heels showing their bits. It was quite dispassionate and not at all sexy. Just human flesh; the fleshpot of Hollywood had no lustre. But sensuality was not forgotten, and the tall, blonde Julie Ann Stanzak sinuously swayed along in a gorgeous long satin silk dress and so equally beautiful were her fellow dancers. Sex and sensuality were closely examined here, power plays commented on, and the film industry certainly got a dark mirror shown. But there were no underweight tiny ballerinas or pumped up bodybuilders, like the guys we are getting accustomed to seeing in the London ballets. These were real people, strong, well built, superbly flexible, and mostly older than the exit age of the local dancers.
Clothes and props were cleverly used, too - they invited one to think. My feeling was that Pina didn’t much like Los Angeles - not so many angels here. Many dreams, many illusions, and not much happiness. A fabulous hodgepodge was the music that encompassed Latin-American, Fado, Sinatra, jazz, and hip-hop. I was mesmerised. Of course, there were quite painful moments when the beauty disintegrated into biting social commentary, like the canned laughter of the movies being grotesquely mimicked by one dancer, hopping around the stage nearly killing himself (laughing). Even the Marlyn Monroe-like statuesque Stanzac was deconstructed, appearing in flat shoes and street clothes conversing with us about her sorry state of attire. Illusions, the game of this world!
This is Gesamtkunstwerk at its finest - music, movement and language working together to make a snapshot of a city in three hours is fabulous. Let us hope the company will keep this work going for a long time indeed.