In celebration of the 2012 London Olympic Games, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch is in London performing ten different works inspired by places around the world, and last night’s Chile-inspired …como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si… was a polished example of the excellence of the company’s dancers and the genius of Pina Bausch. Como el musguito, like the other global works, was part of an international series of co-productions, where Bausch and her company would live in cities around the world, then make work based on their experiences. This piece is the last that Bausch created, which premièred in Wuppertal on 12 of June 2009.

Pina Bausch is hailed as one of the most influential choreographers in the dance world, because she combined movement and theatre to portray human relationships and interactions, both good and bad. Bausch made work that had deep emotional meaning, which greatly contrasted the detached and exacting postmodern work that was typical of the 1960s and 70s. Her work has influenced most of today’s best-known choreographers, and her company continues to perform around the world even since her death in 2009.

Como el musguito contained many of the same themes that continually interested Bausch. Exploring the many facets of male-female interactions, the work placed themes like love, loss, grief, injustice and attraction in the context of the Chilean culture. Little vignettes and storylines played across the stage – sometimes fleeting and other times elongated and indulgent. The work had a good mix of comedy and seriousness, and the dancers were excellent at portraying both, eliciting laughter and rapt attention from the sold-out audience. Despite the run-time of two hours and 40 minutes, como el musguito was constantly in motion, and never dull.

The women danced with long hair arching, in dresses that exuded femininity, while the men wore suit trousers and a variety of dark-coloured tops, highlighting the bright patterns and colours of their female counterparts. The stage appeared plain at first, but as the dancers performed cracks would appear and disappear, sometimes timed with dramatic solos, while other times taking place during playful duets.

The movement quality of the dancing is a testament to the beautiful technique and emotional articulacy of the dancers. Long sweeping motions are punctuated by small quick flicks of the wrist, and nimble footwork is offset by elastic suspensions that loop gracefully to an end. Every movement has been chosen for that specific moment, and both dancer and choreographer have explored and tested the limit of every minute detail. The result is an expertly crafted series of motions that has the audience hanging off each subtle gesture and explosive activity. In particular a solo performed by long-time Tanztheater Wuppertal dancer (and current Co-Artistic Director) Dominique Mercy was an eloquently fluid example of Bausch’s choreography at its best.

As a whole the work pieced together fragments of ideas, snapshots taken from the company’s experience touring Chile. Sometimes the references were overt, with the use of text and stylistic movement that was obviously rooted in Chilean culture. However, much more was underlying tones based off interactions and events that we as an audience will never know. But the beauty of the art replaces any need for full understanding. These scenes play across the stage and flow like water from one to the next, showing, with great clarity, an unending number of interactions and emotional states. This is the essence of Pina Bausch’s choreography, and this is why …como el musguito en la piedra, ay, si, si, si… is an example of ultimate mastery.

Pina Bausch, at Sadler's WellsErin Johnson reviews Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's ...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si... as a part of the World Cities 2012 celebration for the London Olympics.5