Ten Chi (World Cities 2012) – Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: The Barbican, London, 16 June 2012

Do you know what goes best with champagne?

Count the sperm whales! Ditta Miranda Jasjfi gives it a go in Ten Chi.

In the pre-show gloom what looks like a giant toadstool on the stage turns out to be the tail of a fluking whale. Looking forlorn as she stands alone, Ditta Miranda Jasjfi transforms herself during a thoughtful, fluent opening solo. With a flick of her wrist she turns out the house lights and whirls hypnotically long after the music stops. Picked up by a shadow of a man she swirls weightlessly beneath the tail in a mesmerising evocation of the sub-marinal world. This is the first ten minutes or so of an astonishingly beautiful show, the most inspired so far of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch’s World Cities 2012’s considerable glories.

Peter Pabst’s simple but elegant staging allows Ten Chi’s contemplative charms to flourish amidst falling cherry blossom leaves that start their melancholic tumble well before the interval and are still rippling down as we’re leaving to catch our trains home. It’s an incredible sight and one that admits both the childish thrill of playing in the snow and the poignancy of Dominique Mercy allowing himself to be de-robed of seven veils worth of kimonos only to have them replaced by a very western shirt and trousers.

Premiered in May 2004 as a co-production with the city of Saitama, Japan, there are many nods and bows to the lighter side of Japanese culture; the impression of a Japanese man in the bath was funny even to someone who’d never entertained such a thought before and I think I understood the male cleaner porn. But, from the woman delighting in the luxurious sounds of Japanese pronunciation to the guy lyrically selling programmes before and during the interval, it was actually the poetic nature of the human voice that stood out.

It was all topped off by a, dare I say, rousing conclusion whereby the whole cast dashed on and off in what looked suspiciously like a ten minute dance show that seemed to be there mainly for the pure joy of it.

An amazing piece.

Gerard Davis

This entry was posted in Barbican, Pina, Pina Bausch, Tanztheater Wuppertal, World Cities 2012 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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