The American Dance Festival is held every summer in Durham, NC. It made me think of an interview I heard with Wim Wenders , the filmaker best known in the US for ‘Paris, Texas’ and ‘Wings of Desire’. He never understood dance and had to be dragged to a dance performances. He was taken to see Pina Bausch perform….”And then I found myself on the edge of my seat, crying like a baby after five minutes, and crying through the entire thing,” he recalls, amazement still in his voice after 27 years. “I was hopelessly, helplessly crying, and didn’t know what was happening. It was like lightning struck me.” He says it changed his life. ”Pina Bausch showed me in 40 minutes more about men and women than the entire history of cinema.”
Be sure to see ‘Pina’ Wender’s recent documentary about Pina Bausch.
The idea that dance is a narrative, a way of examining humanity’s identity and longing was what I was thinking about as I watched Kyle Abraham and his company on stage performing ‘Radio Show’. This piece is in part about the the loss of a radio station in Pittsburgh. Kyle’s father would pick him up from rehearsals and they would drive home listening to that radio station. Being a teenager he would not talk to his father, but they would listen together. He says years later when he would drive around Pittsburgh he would cry and wish that he could change that. (aren’t there so many of these things we wish we could go back and change or explain….. to our parents especially) It is also about the lingering effect of Alzheimers on his family unit, he returned briefly to Pittsburgh when his father was diagnosed with Alzheimers. The music from the performance evokes memories and feelings about what has been lost, the piece infused with radio chatter, hip-hop and classic soul music, also evokes his father’s growing isolation as he deteriorates from Alzheimer’s.
So dance is story, an understanding, a delving into our personal history and what has touched us…As Pina Bausch said “I’m not so interested in how they move as in what moves them”.