Danzon: Failing to Move

by msabaye

I recently watched Danzon, choreographed by Pina Bausch in 1995 (I think). She passed away in 2009, and the company (Tanztheatre Wuppertal), under the artistic direction of Mercy, performed Danzon, performed it in Ottawa. Contrary to raving reviews, I have to say it was a disappointment. It was supposed to be dance theater, and I couldn't find much dance or theater in it unless I call someone standing on stage uttering words theater and a few sequences of movements dance. The costumes were very much similar to those in Nefes or parts of other works by the company under direction of Bausch.

As for meaning and expression, it was supposed to be the man's journey through twentieth century. I couldn't get a sense of journey or man from this work. It seemed to me more like a mishmash mostly conveying absurdity. It was almost sad to sit there for over an hour feeling nothing.

Two things I enjoyed were the music and the solo by Dominique Mercy. The rest was similar, only more fragmented and uninteresting, to what I had observed in Nefes. Perhaps this is the sad aspect of human's creativity: its limitations. Bausch was certainly imaginative in creating dance theater, and that is a great achievement, a corner stone for others to build upon, but I fail to see that she took her original creation very far. Perhaps, that is her gift to humanity and art, one that others can, and hopefully will, explore and expand by pushing the boundaries and moving others.


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