Monday, February 28, 2011


"Der Revolutionär sagt: Herr wo habt Ihr Euren Rock her? Der Reiche antwortet: Arbeit, Arbeit! Der Revolutionär fragt, Herr, warum habt Ihr gearbeitet? Der Reiche antwortet: Idiot, um diesen Rock zu haben. Der Revoltionär sagt: Ihr habt Euch gequält, um einen Genuss zu haben; denn so ein Rock is ein Genuss, aber er verändert nicht die Welt. Ich bin bekleidet mit Lumpen, aber meine Gedanken sind Goldmünzen, mit denen ich den Wandel hervorbringe . . ."

-St. Just

"The Revolutionary says: Sir, where did you get your nice clothes? The Rich Man answers: work, work! The Revolutionary asks: Sir, why did you work? The Rich Man answers: idiot, in order to have these clothes. The Revolutionary says: you went to all that trouble for an indulgence; because those clothes are an indulgence, but they don't change the world. I'm clothed in rags, but my thoughts are worth solid gold and with them I bring change . . ."

Welcome to the big time! We've arrived in the big house, the main stage, the epicentre of Staatstheater Stuttgart! But of course, not before bidding adieu to our beloved Probebühne. We had our last full rehearsal there on Wednesday, and for once, we didn't have to clean up the mess after the barricades were stormed. It was a great feeling.

Our first day in the new space started leisurely, with another film shoot. We turned the black box theater into a studio again, and shot a short segment with Robespierre.

(Blue screen awesomeness)

Nuran wanted to shoot it twice, once with wigs, once without. See the wigs had been added two weeks ago, on top of the very modern dress costumes, to give the piece a bit of 1789 revolutionary flare. But the design team had not brought the wigs with us from the rehearsal space, because they didn't think we would need them first thing. But what the director wants, the director gets. So I was sent to fetch the wigs. But Janek said it would take far too long if I used the public transit . . . so he sent me to the gatekeeper at the front of the building, where they keep a couple of motor bikes for just such an occasion. They are basically bicycles that have a built in motor, like a moped. The motor engages when you start pedaling. Its like cycling, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay faster. And with the extra power, I barely noticed the hills. So awesome. And such a smart idea to keep a few bikes around in case errands need to be run.

Ladies & Gentlemen, the Wig Express:

So we got the wigs in no time and rocked out the film shoot. Afterward Nuran invited us all for coffee. This is a recent pleasure for us, since there was no canteen at the rehearsal space. The foyer of the main theatre is a giant open room between the different theaters, with a full bar and food service. Its incredible what a difference this atmosphere makes during rehearsals. We get to sit an enjoy a cappucino or lunch or whatever on breaks instead of being at the mercy of the drink machine.

Rehearsals are rolling right along, and we got our first glimpse of the set as well as the army of technicians that are putting everything together

Unbeknownst to me, there is an enormous real-life painting of the Stuttgart palace as a backdrop for our show. Its really breathtaking, not to mention the extra flatscreen tvs and projectors. We're taking this game to a whole new level.

The highlight of the week though, by far was getting to go to the Stuttgarter premiere of Wim Wenders' new film "Pina" about Pina Bausch, the world-famous choreographer and Tanztheater pioneer who unexpectedly died in 2009. But the coolest part, is that Wenders himself came to the opening to introduce the film!!!!! Ever since seeing Der Himmel Über Berlin years ago, I've been an enormous fan of his work. So I made sure to secure a ticket and bring my camera along:

Wenders was a longtime friend of Bausch and had been wanting to create this film with her for many years. He told us how it became sort of an inside joke between the two of them, that they wanted to do this project but he did not know how to film her dancers in a way that would begin to do them justice. Then after seeing the U2 3D shortfilm at Cannes in 2007 he immediately called Pina and said he had found the right way to portray her work. They began working on a concept for the film, and planned the four pieces of hers that she wanted to show for the fall 2009 season. That way they would be freshly rehearsed and in the repertoire so Wenders could film them.

Unfortunately Pina died five days after being diagnosed with cancer in June of 2009. The entire company was completely devastated as was Wenders who decided not to make the film. But after a few months, the dancers in Pina's company at Tanztheater Wuppertal convinced him they should make the film in her honor.

And so they commenced to create what is one of the most extraordinary pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen. The dancers are so incredibly powerful, and the images they create are lyrical, majestic, hectic, personal, evocative, transcendant. Add on top of that the incredible depth of the 3-D cameras (Wenders also mentioned he didn't want any 'theatrical' 3-D special effects, nothing jumping out at you. Just the depth and immersion in the work of the dancers), as well as the incredible locations in and around Wuppertal that were used as a backdrop for the dance pieces. It is a mind-blowing, inspiring, overwhelming two hours.

Throughout the film, members of the ensemble recall their relationships with Pina and their work over the years. Wenders also intersperses old rehearsal footage and performance clips of Pina herself as well as voice overs of her giving direction in rehearsals. The result is an ode to this woman, her mastery of the art form, and the strength of her spirit. I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

(The Tanztheater Wuppertal-Pina Bausch Ensemble)



"Tanzt, tanzt, sonst sind wir verloren." (Dance, dance, otherwise we're lost.)

-Pina Bausch


  1. I had the chance to meet Pina and see her work in LA many years ago- she was such an inspiring and unique choreographer- can't wait to see this new film!!! (and your set is looking amazing!!)

  2. Brian,
    Was this your first experience on a bike since your accident last year?

  3. Merissa: Awesome! So glad you got to meet her in person.

    Tom: Nope, I led tours last fall on my bike in Chicago. But certainly the first time on a motorized one. Tons of fun. :)