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Como El Musguito En La Piedra, Ay Si, Si, Si… review at Sadler’s Wells – ‘a surfeit of caution’

Como El Musguito En La Piedra, Ay Si, Si, Si at Sadler's Wells, london Photo: Tristram Kenton Como El Musguito En La Piedra, Ay Si, Si, Si at Sadler's Wells, london Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Pina Bausch is dead. Long live Pina Bausch. The Queen Bee of modern dance left an extraordinary legacy of work that the company is committed to conserving. This is her final piece, premiered in June 2009, eighteen days before her death.

Within its relatively spartan setting there is her most harmonious and benign vision of the relationship between men and women – the matrix of most of her work. Women, as always, dominate the stage. Sensuously gowned, diaphanous material clinging to bodies of all shapes and sizes, they are sisters under the silk while the men are generally more submissive than in earlier works.

There is a lot of dance; the spoken word, the eccentric pronouncements and the off-kilter vignettes are kept to a minimum. Solos are fluid and sensual, joyful or orgasmic. Bausch was a musical magpie and her indiscriminate thievery creates ear-jarring juxtapositions as often as smooth transitions. The eerie beauty of the stone-dropping sequence contrasts with scenes of water ‘torture’ and an amusing definition of gender difference – ye shall know them by their knitwear. But moments of dramatic tension and laughter are few and far between – a girl struggles against a rope as if at the end of her tether, a synchronised line of women lying on the floor flirts with a line of men on the other side like giggling teenagers in a bizarre discotheque.

And yet there is something missing. Too often it seems like an anaemic pastiche of the original. There are some fine new additions to the company but there is a conspicuous depletion of the mischievous anarchy that characterises Bausch’s work. It is worth keeping alive but on this showing it is in danger of succumbing to resurrection ennui.

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Verdict
Revival of Pina Bausch's last completed work suffers from a surfeit of caution
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