The Arts

National Arts Centre – Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch/Nefès

by Paula Citron

Germany’s remarkable, disturbing and exasperating Pina Bausch, artistic director of Tanztheater Wuppertal, is the greatest choreographer of dance theatre in the world. She is now 67, but her take on the human condition is as cynical as ever.

Nefès (2003), which means “breath” in Turkish, was inspired by Istanbul. Nefès is an epic, running 170 minutes. There is only one scene that captures the chaotic hurly-burly of the city. The rest of the piece is encased in a majestic serenity.

Set against a seductive score of rhythmic Turkish music, the work moves on a logical journey. It begins with the hamam (the Turkish bath) where the women comb their hair over the men’s naked bodies. It ends with folk chain dances, the men downstage, the women far at the back. The Istanbul that emerges is a city of sexual tension.

The calm of Nefès is clearly a society that knows the rules of sexual engagement.

From the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for THE NEW CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.

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