Tadeusz Kantor 

Tadeusz Kantor was born in the small town of Weilopole and lived through both World wars. He began his artistic career training primarily as a visual artist which may give an explanation as to why his theatrical work was so visually stimulating. Founder of the company Cricot 2, Kantor worked with actors who were not professionally trained giving him the ability to work with individuals that moved almost like mannequins, giving his work a very robotic and mechanical edge.
Kantor often worked directly with his actors using autobiographical techniques to devise work, much like the methods of Pina Bausch. He was often creating work that echoed his experiences during World-War-Two in which he witnessed the death of his uncle and the rape of his mother. His work has often been described as an ‘obsessive engagement with historical trauma, memory, and forgetting’ (Gluhovic, 2013: 102).

Weilopole, Weilopole:

‘Weilopole,Weilopole’ sharing its name with Kantors’ hometown, most of the Jewish community in this town were deported and killed in the Holocaust and their Synagogues burnt down. This piece was set in what he called ‘The Room of Imagination’ in which pieces of furniture were invaded by crosses and recruits from the war. What Kantor experienced as a child during the war really impacted his life and work; many of his pieces were reminiscent of these memories.

This clip shows a wedding ceremony between a man and woman who seem to be absent-minded to the vows they were promising to each other, making a nonsensical sound as the priest reads out their vows. This was an example of how Kantor saw life being controlled by an external force and that you are never fully in control of your own life, in many ways, showing how a higher force was controlling society at the time of the World War.

When the bride falls into the soldiers arms at the end Kantor made a visual metaphor for the death of innocence as the cross is carried out in front of them, while the bride is carried lifelessly off stage.
‘This is a play (…) full of complex metaphors. This is also a proposition (…) in which all kinds of updates and clashes of stereotypes, myths and cultural imaginations are important. The combination of precision of form and greatness of content creates emotion. Emotion is the basis of true theatre.’(“Wielopole, Wielopole – Tadeusz Kantor | Performance W Culture.Pl”)

The Dead Class:

Described as ‘a masterpiece of visual theatre’ (Allain and Harvie, n.d.) ‘The Dead Class’ is one of Tadeusz Kantors most famous pieces of work. During this performance he experimented with the staging of his own childhood memories creating and autobiographical performance. This piece was based loosely around the a short story called ‘The Old Age Pensioner’ (1934) in which and old man who is dying returns to his school and gradually becomes a school boy again before he is taken into the sky by the wind and dissapears.

‘The Dead Class’ is a haunting piece which echoes Kantors message of once having lived your childhood you can never go back, the only way you can travel back to that time is through memory. Sometimes the actors would have mannequins strapped to their backs which represented their younger childlike selves. These mannequins would sometimes replace them, propped up at their desks, suggesting that they were shadows that could never be forgotten. The use of mannequins was also another method that Kantor used; called bio-objects
‘It is a performance that – in contrast with his others, which are typically quite impersonal, quite ‘cold’ – says much about the artist, about his approach to art, to the world, to life. It is also a kind of homage or epitaph to a world that has already disappeared, to a social milieu that no longer exists, to an epoch that belongs to the past. An epitaph that is poignant and magnificent.’(“On Tadeusz Kantor’s The Dead Class – Culture Hub”)

Allain, Paul, and Jen Harvie. The Routledge Companion To Theatre And Performance. Print.

“On Tadeusz Kantor’s The Dead Class – Culture Hub”. Culturehub.co. N.p., 2017. Web. 18 May 2017.

“Wielopole, Wielopole – Tadeusz Kantor | Performance W Culture.Pl”. Culture.pl. N.p., 2017. Web. 18 May 2017.

Gluhovic, Milija (2013) Performing European Memories. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Further reading:
“The Dead Class – Tadeusz Kantor | Performance, Photography & Visual Arts W Culture.Pl”. Culture.pl. N.p., 2017. Web. 18 May 2017.

Pina Bausch 

Pina Bausch’s work with the ‘Tanztheatre Wuppertal’ was emotionally and psychologically expressive; freeing herself and her dancers from the constraints of classical ballet; the company was quite controversial, to begin with, and challenged the conventional expectations of dance. But it gradually gained recognition internationally and has since been a huge influence on the development of dance globally. Bausch was one of the most influential choreographers of our time and when-when thinking about her dancers she was “not so interested in how they move [but] what moves them.” (Pinabausch.org, 2017)

Pina Bausch grew up in Solingen, Germany during World War Two. She learned how to observe the behavior of the people around her and what motivated them. Her early experiences of the war echoed in her later work as she presented people leaving, returning and desiring happiness, this was reflected in her work within Tanztheater (dance theatre). Studying the work of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater; allowed us to experiment with the individual methods that she deployed in performances such as, ‘Café Mueller’ and the ‘Rite of Spring’.

The Rite of Spring:

First performed in Paris, 1913 the Rite of Spring caused quite a controversy and gained widespread critical attention. Defying the expectations of classical ballet ‘The Rite of Spring’ was a breakthrough piece for Bausch. Performed to the score of Stravinsky this piece explores the Pagan Fertility Ritual, looking at themes of rape and the loss of innocence. Reflecting her awareness of the treatment of women in contemporary society.

During this piece the floor is covered in peat, it is kicked up very slightly during the beginning of the performance but it gradually begins to cover the dancer’s sweat-soaked bodies, it gives their dresses and skin a murky brown colour. Dramatically showing a loss of innocence through a physical and visual metaphor.

This piece is staged from the point of view of the terrified young women who are the potential victims performing Bausch’s expressive choreography together in choric form. The frenzied movement of the dancers is particularly effective when the piece reaches one of its most famous climactic points (shown in the video). The movement of the dancers becomes erratic as the sacrifice looms upon them, the dancers are truly exhausted during this piece which adds to the emotive and expressive quality of the performance. It’s amazing how a chorus of dancers can emphasize such a poignant moment in a theatrical work.

The sheer intensity of this moment makes the panic felt by the dancers reverberate throughout the audience; Bausch’s choreography really lends itself to Stravinsky’s score at this point as you feel the build in energy from the dancers and the music, it seems that the two work effortlessly, in harmony with each other.
Bausch said:

‘The most important thing to me was to understand what Stravinsky wanted. In Rite of Spring, there is nothing to add to what’s already there. There is a young girl, the Chosen One, and that young girl dances, all by herself, until she dies.’ – (quoted in Finkell 1991:5) (Climenhaga, 2009)

Cafe Mueller:

Café Muller is a chamber piece for couples where each actor goes through the same physical exhaustion and questioning. Each dancer is expected to give as much as they can to the piece they are performing on stage in this piece.

The most interesting thing about this clip from Café Muller is the way the dancers are manipulated by an outside force. The dancers establish themselves as two lovers who have a problem with connecting with each other; the manipulating force (the third dancer) molds them by giving them four interactive gestures that are related to love; a hug, a kiss, the woman lying in the mans arms and the woman on the floor but every time he tries to leave the stage the mold is dropped as the two dancers can’t hold the connection themselves. When the dancers start to repeat these action is when it becomes more interesting visually as it looks like they are fighting desperately for human intimacy. ‘It is cruel, funny, pathetic, indescribably sad – all these at once. The cycle goes on for so long that eventually you pray for it to end, as all the while Purcell’s mournful aria (‘Remember me, but oh forget my fate!’) drives despairingly on’ (Kane, 2012).
‘It is not Pina Bausch who wounds the heart; it was already hurt, but the wound had been forgotten, written off as foolish, romantic or narcissistic, and Pina Bausch, through the bodies of her dancers, reminds us of the reality and the vitality of that wound.’ (Kane, 2012)

Climenhaga, Royd. Pina Bausch. London [u.a.]: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Kane, P.P.O. “Café Müller By Pina Bausch”. Jildy Sauce. N.p., 2012. Web. 11 May 2017.
“What Moves Me | Pina Bausch Foundation”. Pinabausch.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 May 2017.
Further Reading
“Tanztheater Wuppertal – Pina Bausch – Dancetheatre Wuppertal”. Pina-bausch.de. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.
Allain, Paul, and Jen Harvie. The Routledge Companion To Theatre And Performance. Print.

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