Formidable Pina Bausch gets back on stage in ‘Cafe Muller’

«I always try to speak for all of us, for all that we feel, our common language, our desires, hopes, dreams and fears,» said Pina Bausch recently about one of her choreographies, «For the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.» «About love and, yes, about being human and about how beautiful every human being is, how fragile. I think that all of this is what I want to say,» the mysterious doyenne of the German dance scene added. At the age of 66, Bausch continues to reside in the town of Wuppertal, the seat of her dance theater for some 25 years, and if need be, she will perform on stage, as well as choreographing. In Greece, we will have the now-rare opportunity of seeing her again on stage, in her historic 1978 piece «Cafe Muller» on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (July 9-11) at the Pireos 260 venue. Part of the ongoing Athens Festival, the piece is autobiographical, but it also reveals the amazing history of the Wuppertal Tanztheater. A mythical piece, wrapped in melancholy arias by Henry Purcell, it tells stories about loneliness. The earlier staging of «Cafe Muller» in Greece, at the Herod Atticus Theater, 16 years ago, has remained a signature performance. The action in this cafe unfolds as if from a deep sleep. Only one character is awake and it is this person’s task to protect all the others, who appear to be in the grips of some enchanting force. Inner exploration The inability to communicate, the uniqueness of each individual and the ceaseless exploration of our inner world are constantly at the heart of Bausch’s existential quests. But «Cafe Muller» is also dominated by an air of melancholy, due largely to Purcell’s emotive melodies. In combination, what we see is two worlds colliding: One is the enchanted world, embodied by two female dancers and a couple who are torn apart again and again, and the other is the so-called normal world, which is represented by a lost red-headed woman who finds herself in the desolate cafe, steeped in odd, magical rituals. Bausch is indisputably one of the greatest choreographers of modern times. Her work has influenced generations of other choreographers and directors as diverse as Britain’s Lloyd Newson of the DV8 physical theater and the Cloud Gate dance theater of Lin Hwai-Min from Taiwan. Her work combines narrative, music, acrobatics, imagery and monumental sets. Often dance holds a supporting role, and her pieces carry a diverse range of references, be they to Brecht and political German cabaret, American musicals, German expressionism and, mainly, to the choreography and philosophy of the parents of modern dance in Germany, Kurt Jooss and Mary Wigman. Bausch has choreographed pieces where the stage is covered in mud, flowers or water, where the men and women flirt tenderly or push each other violently across the stage. She is bold, intuitive and tireless. «I never give up,» she is known to have said in one of the rare times that she has agreed to talk about her work. «I loved to dance because I was scared to speak. When I was moving, I could feel,» she told in a February 2002 interview. Pina Bausch and the Wuppertal Tanztheater will be on stage July 9-11, at 260 Pireos. Tickets can be purchased from the Hellenic Festival box office (39 Panepistimou, in the arcade, tel 210.327.2000) and are priced at 25 euros (concessions 15).