Springing from a few weeks spent in Los Angeles in 1996, Nur Du is the second of the World Cities 2012 shows. Certainly more cohesive than the first one, Viktor, Nur Du revels in a kind of childlike joy; a woman cackles hysterically on discovering she’s wearing more than one pair of knickers, a man with his hand being held bounces cutely across the floor to kiss a woman and a couple draw rude bits onto their clothes, making their bodies look like happy faces as a result.
But it’s flipped by a childlike cruelty where a man cuts up an apple for his true love, hands her the core and skips off laughing maniacally. Another squirts water onto the stage and then stamps on it to make someone in the front row wet. Yet another dangles a woman from a chair by her hair.
A certain shallowness and plasticity pervades throughout. A woman is turned into a doll by stuffing a pair of balloons down her chest and plonking a blonde wig on her head. A huge pointy bra is made, years before Madonna and Monsieur Gaultier joined forces, by sticking a couple of super-size coke cups to someone’s chest. A row of women with their skirts hoiked up have their hair combed by a precious-looking man wearing little more than a mink around his midriff. All distortions of Californian clichés perhaps but no less funny for that.
There’s quite a lot of dancing too. There are languid tango and jive routines and an on-the-nose piss-take of a stage-show choreography class. Best of all there’s an abundance of solos, many featuring Bausch’s familiar hand-wringing style, but there’s a more inventive edge too, not always apparent in her dance-work, such as when Helena Pikon takes flight with her fingers to the tune of Everytime We Say Goodbye, and there’s even a wonderful solo from Damiano Ottavio Bigi that includes distinctly Classical leaps and turns.
As always with Bausch, there’s tons more to admire but a special mention must go to Barbara Kaufmann and her acrobatic spin over the barre, Rainer Behr and the funny/disturbing/alarming plastic bag filled with water over his head stunt and, finally, to the cheeky grinning giant plastic whale that drifted down from the rafters, floated around for a bit and then rose away from view again.
Oh, and Julie Anne Stanzak’s demented cheerleader.
And I forgot about the guy who leapt sideways over a chair – that was good. And…