A blog raveled in randomness
Choreographed by Pina Bausch, ‘Two Cigarettes in the Dark’ was brought to Sadler’s Wells Theatre by Tanztheater Wuppertal, and the stage presented a different world for the performing dancers and a chaotic yet calm display of bodily performances for the audience. If I was forced to describe this show in word one, it would be: randomness.
I do not mean that the movements and positions of the dancers were improvised or not carefully planned out, but the performance overall lacked a chronological narrative and had various stories from each dancers through usage of space and their movements. Some performers used their space by moving their arms and legs, and some did not use their space by just sipping a cup of tea with an awkward smile. There were mostly two or more performers on stage using their spatial void in their own comedic or serious attitude. Their movements represented daily life objects and acts, but the aura created in their facial expression and background music emitted an unfamiliarity for me. Everyone had a part to play on stage, and with the lack of narrative or plot, the audience had to take in what was given… which was nothing but their bodily movements.
The ‘randomness’ presented on stage had it’s drawbacks. I think it is mainly due to my (very high and far to the left) seating arrangement in the theater, which gave very limited view of the stage. The ‘Two Cigarettes in the Dark’ makes the dancers use the whole space on stage in unexpected ways, which produced laughter and anxiety from the audience. However for those (like me) who were sitting above the stage could not see parts of the area and though I could hear movements being made, I unfortunately could not see what the dancers were doing .
Despite that problem, I quiet liked the performance. It explored sexuality in gendered performance, elements of alienation and unexpectedness. The performances they did were hectic sometimes because the various stories were being told from each performer, and they would act out while other performers are repeating movements on stage. I remember how I felt eerie because the female dancer was lying on the ground at the back of the stage, and her blank facial expression and repetitive action of putting up and down her legs created a gloomy ambiance around her area. But I was also receiving funny vibrant vibes from two male performers who were also on stage (but in front) and spitting out champagnes like a water fountain from their mouths rather than drinking it. Some wore suits and ties, and expectations on how they would act were shattered by their imminent childish acts. Various feelings were clashed at that moment on stage, and I think an art piece that could produce a unique ‘eerie’ moment is thought provoking.
I have a lot of ideas swirling inside my head and a lot of things to write about if I were asked to write an essay on this performance. And that is why I do like this performance due to it’s alienation from my familiarity and continually challenging of what I expect from stage. I, as one of those who was born into a world that has a strong sense of pop-culture, was fed continuously with familiarity and continuous cuts to what I want to see and expect. ‘Two Cigarettes in the Dark’ did not do that for me. It challenged me rather than being a brown-nose in our contemporary entertainment society. I liked it.
I thought of some questions after watching this performance: The choreographer Pina Bausch passed away in 2009, but her works continue to be performed on intentional stages. Modern daring artists recreate her works without her physical presence in our world, but does that still make the performance Pina Bausch’s? Is the current on-going performances still be by Pina Bausch? A question I think that can be applied to many well-known entertainers who had made a great impact in the twentieth-century.
Pina Bausch WIKI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pina_Bausch
Sadler’s Wells Theatre website: http://www.sadlerswells.com/page/whats-on