By Danny Globerman
Fresh off a run of nine, sold out performances in New York City, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch takes over the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall for a trio of evenings starting tonight (Thursday, September 28). The German dance troupe founded by legendary choreographer Pina Bausch, who died in 2009, has chosen Ottawa as the only other location on its current North American tour. This is the fifth time the company has visited the NAC, a measure of the close relationship NAC Executive Producer of Dance Cathy Levy has cultivated with the troupe and the degree to which she has helped turn Ottawa into a legitimate dance capital.
Making this appearance particularly special is the program. TWPB is providing audiences with a rare opportunity to see two of its classic and most important works: the thoughtful Café Müller and the thrilling The Rite of Spring. Even rarer, is the presentation of Rite with live rather than canned music, as performed by the musicians of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
For peat’s sake
But there is a third work of sorts that will be presented, though not by the dancers of the company. It’s well worth it to stay in your seat during the half-hour intermission simply to watch the NAC stage crew, dressed in their customary black outfits, execute the equally highly-choreographed job of covering the stage with 6,000 litres of peat for The Rite of Spring. As golden brown dust and the wild sounds of the orchestra warming up fill the air, the crew swirls around the stage spilling and raking piles of peat into a smooth surface that even members of the troupe consider to be part of the evening’s entertainment.
The company wanted to bring its “home turf,” so to speak, from Germany only to discover border controls wouldn’t allow it. So after much testing of turfs in New York, TWPB purchased the peat there and has now shipped it here for these Ottawa performances, which as it turns out will have a legacy beyond fond memories. Once done and unable to bring the peat along on the trip back to Germany, the Pina Bausch troupe plans to let the folks at the NAC take portions of it home for their gardens.
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch are performing Café Müller and the The Rite of Spring at NAC Southam Hall (1 Elgin St) from September 28–30. Tickets cost $53–100 online. Student tickets are half-price and $15 Live Rush tickets are available for patrons ages 13–29.