Kontakthof (1978) is a show about intimacy and connection, inequality and power struggles. Pina Bausch is renowned for her ability to bring on stage the absurdity and depth of society and human relationships, and this production at Sadler’s Wells does exactly that.

The nearly three-hour show feels like a quick succession of incredibly profound scenes. Not only does the interval come almost unexpectedly (it’s been two hours already?), but also the transitions in-between scenes, which might have felt long and tedious, are full of productive suspense: anything can happen, the potential of what we will see on stage next knows no limits.

The signature traits of Bausch’s Tanztheater (repetitions, compulsive movements, awkward walks, unswerving runs, uncontrollable laughter, shrill cries) are used to investigate romance and relationships, without shying away from exposing society’s sexism and discrimination. The resonance to our modern times is still remarkable: where are we, really, when you get naked with someone? How do we measure the distance between us? When we lose someone, do we lose a bit of our own self? How many ways do we have to hurt others, and ourselves?

After the forced isolation of the pandemic, the leitmotif of “contact” adds an extra layer – every embrace, every moment when the dancers draw closer or break off, feels poignant with meaning, as we are still learning to re-negotiate our relationships at an intimate as well as a societal level.

Anna Zanetti

All performances sold out 3 – 6 February 2022 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in Angel.

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