TDPS Speaker Series | Pina Bausch’s Aggressive Tenderness

  • Lecture

  • 44B Dwinelle Hall

  • March 7, 2019
  • 5–6pm (note change in time)

Please Note: The time of this talk has been changed to 5–6pm, March 7.

Speaker: Telory D. Arendell, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance, Missouri State University

In this talk, Telory Arendell argues that Pina Bausch takes what other practitioners have written as praxis (theory/practice) and reverses it: she makes the theory practical. Bausch disables gender and explores the breaking point between tenderness and violence in human interactions. Arendell believes that experimental theater should include at least a nod to Bausch’s oeuvre as a postmodernization of German Expressionism. Bausch is one of few practitioners who actually managed to bring theory and practice closer together on the stage.

Arendell’s talk provides a much shortened version of her current book, Pina Bausch’s Aggressive Tenderness: Repurposing Theater through Dance. This book provides close readings of six Pina Bausch pieces, connecting their content with theoretical conversations about Eisenstein’s “Montage Film Editing” and “Emotional Sound,” Grotowski’s “Poor Theatre,” Artaud’s “Theatre of Cruelty,” Brook’s “Empty Space,” Brecht’s “Alienation Effect,” Bogart’s “Viewpoints,” and Monk’s “Extended Techniques.” Arendell reads all of these methodologies into Bausch’s work. She begins and ends her monograph and her talk with an original novella about Bausch in her early pursuits and offers poems for Pina at the beginning of each chapter and chapter synopsis. Arendell ends with a discussion of Wim Wenders’ 2011 tribute film, Pina: Dance, dance otherwise we are lost, and touches on Bausch’s first steps with Kurt Jooss.

Bausch’s Dance Theater, or Tanztheater, speaks a kinesthetic language that Arendell translates into a somaesthetic exploration. Other authors have mentioned Bausch in relation to this list of practitioners, but only in passing. Arendell’s talk provides a detailed explanation of why it is easy to see the conceptual choices of Brecht, Grotowski, Artaud, Brook, Eisenstein, Monk, and Bogart played out physically in Bausch’s choreography as instances of a repurposing of theater through dance.