Pina Bausch

Pina Bausch, who combined potent drama and dreamlike movement to create a powerful form of dance theater that influenced generations of dancemakers, only performed at Jacob's Pillow on one memorable occasion in 1968. At that time, most Pillow presentations were mixed programs that included ballet, modern, and some form of traditional dance. The program was a particularly international sampling of dance, including Solveig Oestergaard and Niels Kehlet from the Royal Danish Ballet, India's Ritha Devi in her U.S. debut, and the Frenchman Jean Cébron with his young German partner, Pina Bausch. As with all of the Pillow's mixed programs, the first time that these performers came together was for the dress rehearsal on the night before the opening. But unlike other rehearsals, there was a prominent critic present on this occasion, as the national magazine Saturday Review would only cover the event if Walter Terry attended before the official opening. Bausch had managed to arrive at the Pillow several days in advance, as had the two Danes. But Jean Cébron was on a tight schedule because of a previous performance in Germany, with a connection through Paris and a flight into New York. His flight was hours late, and he didn‟t arrive at the Pillow until after 10pm, at which point he got into costume and make-up and performed his two duets with Bausch even though they hadn't rehearsed together in more than a month. The journey for Ritha Devi and her musicians was even more arduous, and they didn't arrive until midnight after forty-eight hours in transit from Moscow. While the assembled audience of students and Saturday Review's Walter Terry waited for her to appear, Ted Shawn sat on the edge of the stage and addressed the gathering. "My children," he began sternly, "if you don't have the stamina and devotion to do what these artists are doing tonight, then get out of the dance right now and don't clutter up the landscape!" Terry's review was thus titled, "Stamina and Devotion" and it described "a great experience for the Jacob's Pillow students and an electrifying occasion for the rest of us." Of Cébron and Bausch, Terry commented that "it was a particular joy to see their splendid individual talents so exquisitely combined" and another critic singled out Bausch for special praise. "Miss Bausch possesses a remarkably fluid body. Her long, thin arms and legs move with unrestricted grace. Her lines are all bending and curving with no angles." While there are no films of this remarkable program, a few photographs were taken during performance by John Van Lund, and have just recently been printed for the first time from the original negatives. Ella Baff displayed these photos at a Boston memorial for Bausch, who died in June 2009 at the age of 68.
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