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Jo Tomalin

Café Müller – Choreographed by Pina Bausch in Paris!

By July 10, 2023July 24th, 2023No Comments

Théâtre de la Ville presented Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch + Terrain performing Café Müller at La Villette, Paris July 6-12, 2023. Choreographed by Pina Bausch in 1978 this piece was produced by Théâtre de la Ville in 1985 and 1992, with the late Pina Bausch performing in it regularly. Under the new artistic direction of Boris Charmatz since last year, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch presents Café Müller in a stand alone forty-five minute performance with three different casts each night.

A revolving door is centre stage through which customers arrive and leave. The wide stage space of Café Müller is strewn with almost fifty chairs and small round tables where sparse customers move around and into these objects – save for an agile man who moves them out of the way of a woman who apparently does not see them. This act is at once endearing and selfless – but there is more.

Café Müller has been called a psychodrama as scenes among the cast of six intermingle sporadically. Two women in ethereal pale silky dresses stay on stage the entire time and others come and go. A duet enacts repetitive dramatic moments between a woman falling on the floor out of the arms of a man, suggesting a rise and fall in a relationship.

The idea for Café Müller came out of the childhood memories of Bausch herself when her parents owned a Café and she spent time in the evenings observing the customers as they jostle between the sadness of reality and hope.

The choreography and mise en scène by Bausch includes breathtakingly fluid movement, sudden bursts of music and emotive dance, the visual of a woman slowly sliding down a wall to the floor, a person arrives and totters about not understanding the situation yet she seems to grow to accept it.

Set to music by Henry Purcell this piece is beautifully poignant and impactful.

Set and costume design by Rolf Borzik of black walls, chairs and tables with plexiglass, and the elegant evening dress work together to create a mysterious moody environment for the cast of six superlative performers as they discover themselves and form relationships.

Having seen this piece performed by this company many years ago as part of an evening performance, this stand alone forty-five minutes is extraordinary for the emotional impact. Highly recommended!

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