chapter  38
10 Pages

Woman, man, dog, tree: two decades of intimate and monumental bodies in Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater: Gabrielle Cody

ByGABRIELLE CODY

There is an eerie and seductive moment, right at the beginning of Pina Bausch’s 1994 revival of Two Cigarettes in the Dark, when Mechthild Grossmann enters the stage in an evening gown, crosses down to the audience, and with the masterful delivery and conspiratiorial tone of a career hostess declares: “Why don’t you come in, my husband is at war.” It’s difficult not to want to follow this urban Clytemnestra into the gruesome psychic antechambers of Bauschland, to eat her promise. And we do, perhaps because we know we are

guests, hungry for the emotional carnage we are about to witness. Now another woman in an evening gown appears. But Helena Pikon does not fit into her dress like a hand in a kid glove. Pikon’s anorexic body convulses, spasmodically exposing a boy’s chest as she tries to expiate her unspeakable trauma and escape the large stage enclosure. She runs, she falls, she moans. When a man in a tuxedo enters, he tries to keep her down. He shouts at her in French to stop crying, and hits her. Shortly after, another woman in an evening gown enters and urinates in a corner of the stage. Then another man in a tuxedo screams at her and rubs her nose in the urine. Men are also subjected to greater and lesser public humiliations by the women, and by other men.