If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea, we would be sipping t Leaf T’s Earl Grey Blue Flower, which is a lightly fragrant tea with cornflower blossoms (and recommended by Sophie over at The Swedish Kiwi). You would laugh and say you thought I went off Earl Grey after living in Denmark (where it is served lukewarm, water before tea bag, and even served at breakfast). I reply I did, but am slowly coming round to it again, especially good tea like this made in a proper pot.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea I would tell you about the most wonderful evening of dance I saw on Friday night.
I would tell you that I bought the tickets for Tanzteater Wuppertal – Pina Bausch as soon as I had heard that they were coming to New Zealand. I would tell you about the first time I saw their production of The Rite of Spring and how I could vividly remember it, it had made such an impact, and that Café Müller is a classic of contemporary dance, a defining moment in dance history.
I would tell you that Café Müller is set in silence and to snippets of music by Purcell, and was first performed in 1978. The characters, for want of a better word, are a man in a suit who seems to have some sort of authority; a man who appears to be a waiter, sweeping furniture one side; a woman who, like a ghost, weaves her way mostly at the back of the stage; another woman who runs about wearing red shoes and a curly wig; a blind woman who seems to be half of a couple who seem to want to be together but batter each other against a wall. I tell you that an old review I read said that the dancers seem to be refugees from some long-terminated event. To me, I have an image of Vienna not long after World War II, like in The Third Man. It is a piece of contrasts, the noise of chairs moving and bodies being thrown, and moments of grace, such as a that passage danced by the woman in red shoes.
I would then move on to tell you about The Rite of Spring, how I had been apprehensive about seeing it again. The piece had made such an impact on me first time around, that I wondered if I would be disappointed – but I wasn’t. The work is danced on a stage covered in soil, and the dancers soon become streaked with dirt (and sweat) as the piece builds up to the selection and eventual death of a sacrificial victim. She is identified by changing from her nondescript flesh coloured dress into red. I find it hard to tell you about it, as words cannot express what is seen on stage. The men are both strong physically and yet weak as followers of their leader, the women work as a group to protect each other, yet sigh in relief as each in turn is not chosen as the victim. The energy, the dynamism the sheer brutality and grace of the piece are impossible to express in words. I tell you that I read that choreographer Matthew Bourne, said that it is “the only true masterpiece” ever set to Stravinsky’s 1913 The Rite of Spring ballet score. I could not agree more.
I would end my description by telling you that for the first time in New Zealand I was part of a standing ovation, and that I was so moved to see one of the dancers almost in tears as she looked out into the auditorium.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea I would also ponder about the legacy of Pina Bausch, and for how much longer the company could sustain itself only dancing historical works, but yet that is what makes it so special.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea I would bring us back to earth and offer you a hot cross bun from the Ten O’Clock Cookie Bakery, which won the 2014 New Zealand national championship for hot cross buns.