new york

Pina Bausch

brooklyn academy of music

At first, constructing a narrative around Pina Bausch’s Two Cigarettes in the Dark, 1985, seems the only way to make sense of this grueling work. One could describe the set as an indoor pavilion at a zoo (exotic flora and fauna in one showcase, desert plants and sand in another, and tanks of goldfish in a third, all of which make up the back and side walls of the stage) and one could view the male and female dancers on stage as specimens for a study of human behavior, but developing such a scenario risks rationalizing the unrelenting cruelty to women in this technically splendid production. Men in tuxedos inflict terrible humiliations: one male chases an Ophelia-like figure, long hair and long skirts flowing behind her, with an axe, yelling “Putain! Putain!” (“Whore! whore!”); another repeatedly drags a woman by her wrist to a corner of the stage where she must pull down her white underpants,

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