Sweet Mambo – Pina Bausch

Reviewer's Rating

Trying to write a review about a work of Pina Bausch seems like impiety, as time has already made its decision about the grand dame of dance-theatre and her works, but watching a show of the “Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch” is always an experience, which is worth sharing.

“Sweet mambo” is the penultimate work (2008) of Pina Bausch – who died on 30 June 2009 – and was presented from 3 to 6 of November in Onassis Cultural Center, in Athens. The show begins with dancer Regina Advento who urges the audience to remember her name… In almost 2 hours and twenty minutes, the duration of the show, the most complicated subjects of human souls are being expressed in the most elegant way. During the first part we mostly see seven women trying to share personal stories of love, communication, desperation, passion, loneliness, fears, hopes. They scream loudly, laugh and ask us not to forget their names. But their stories are not complete. Their stories are like scenes without a prologue and an epilogue. Regina Advento repeats: “My name is Regina, Regina Advento! Don’t forget it!”

In the second part the stories become complete, we discover their past and their future. As in real life, the significant human stories need their time to come full circle, to flourish and of course to become decipherable. “My name is Nazareth Panadero. Don’t forget my name!”, another dancer says among the dancing parts!

In this part we have a dance recital with all the needed emotional nuances, both in solo and ensemble sequences. The magic icon completes the ideal set design from Peter Babst, a vast white fabric, the ethereal silk dresses of the women and the smart suits of the men (by Marion Cito), as well as the musical choices which vary from Tom Waits to Ryuichi Sakamoto and from Portishead to Gustavo Santaolalla. “My name is Daphnis Kokkinos! Don’t forget it!” said the Greek dancer of the ensemble.

The works of Pina Bausch are beyond critics and opinions. They all are a part of dance history. While, watching “Sweet Mambo”, I was thinking, what would be the most important contribution of her art besides the technique. I concluded that the most important lesson of Pina Bausch is that dance has to be as natural as breathing and our lives have to be as beautiful as art. Her name was Pina Bausch and we’ll never forget it!