Korean inspiration in a Pina Bausch dance

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Korean inspiration in a Pina Bausch dance

Known for her innovative yet controversial modern dance, German choreographer Pina Bausch presented the world premiere of “Rough Cut” at the LG Arts Center on Tuesday to celebrate the center’s fifth anniversary.
Inspired by her stay in Korea last fall, the dance performance personified the reputation Ms. Bausch and her company, Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal, have developed: ingenious and visionary to some, baffling and abstruse to others.
There was no coherence to the dance repertoire. In fact, everything seemed to be happening at once, and no thread of dance techniques appeared to make sense. Performances included a man frantically plucking tissues out of a box, dancers tossing chairs to each other, men climbing a giant white cliff face at the back of the stage, a female dancer running around the stage in circles screaming, and women pouring water on men's backs and washing them. It all seemed like a panorama of dance motions that displayed Ms. Bausch’s work as a highly visual and conceptual one.
Like many of her European modern dance contemporaries, Ms. Bausch’s work also carried a morose, brooding sense that pervaded the overall atmosphere. There were moments of levity, as when a male dancer spoke in Korean to a female Korean dancer saying, “You are very, very beautiful,” to which she responded, “Tell me again,” repeatedly until they both faded from view.
And there were somber moods, depicted by songs and the lighting of paper flowers by a dancer, and there were genuinely perplexing moments too, as when a women moved wine glasses with her toes.
Even if the dance piece was created from impressions of Korea, the choreography itself was not deemed Korean, save for the occasional sound of Korean folk music and traditional geomungo. Also noticeable was the fact that the female dancers appeared to be from various racial backgrounds. Most of them also had long, flowing hair and wore long, flowing and colorful ensembles.
The final portion contained a video shot of a Korean department store that was displayed on the white rock cliff. A member of the crew taped the scene of escalators going up and down on a camcorder. Perhaps this was the most “Korean” part of the illusion-like performance.
No doubt this abstractness is intentional. When I complained about the lack of storyline (reporters can be so logical), my companion replied, “Pina Bausch is about viewing, not about understanding. That's what’s distinctive about her.”
This is the 13th piece since 1986 that Ms. Bausch has created from inspiration she gained by visiting various cities around the world.
Attending the world premiere were the CEOs of LG and GS groups, the chairman of the Korean Federation of Industries, and distinguished figures in the arts and cultural fields.

by Choi Jie-ho

“Rough Cut” will be performed today at 8 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. at the LG Arts Center in Gangnam district. Ticket prices range from from 30,000 won to 90,000 won. For more information, call (020) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com.
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