Something Old, Something New: American Ballet Theatre Brings José Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane Surging Back to Life at City Center

And Alexei Ratmansky’s 'Symphony #9' is explosive, but at BAM, Pina Bausch’s last work is pure kitsch

AND THEN AT BAM, WE WERE EXPOSED to the late Pina Bausch’s final offering, completed only weeks before her premature death. It’s called “…como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si…” (Like moss on a stone), and it was inspired by a company visit to Chile. Here’s how it starts. A girl in a white nightdress who sometimes barks like a dog is handled and abused by one or more men. She has a lot of dark hair. Other women, in elegant gowns, appear; they’re not treated very well either: one of them, for instance, sits in a chair while a guy spills water on her as she refreshes her makeup—this, presumably, because when he kindly brought her a glass of water, she spat it out. Men chase back and forth across the stage. The stage itself slowly splits apart, like cracking ice, but no one notices. One sassy lady lies across the legs of two men whose shirts she’s ripped off and forces them to do sit-ups. Somewhere along the way, a couple clasp each other through prickly boughs that they’ve carried on. A tall woman saunters onstage knitting a long, tan scarf that (as you knew it would) keeps getting longer and longer and longer. Eventually, to mournful tango music, different women have extended solos that are meant to be sexy and are sexy, in the tradition of Rita Hayworth in Gilda. Others are tormented, as befits the tango music that begins to dominate. A couple of guys suffer.

In other words, it’s an accretion of shtick masquerading as a Statement. Once, Pina Bausch was about something, however disagreeable. By this point she was repeating herself—and the self she was repeating was sadly passé. The BAM audience lapped it up. I, on the other hand, tiptoed out of theater when the intermission mercifully came around—after an hour and a half.

Something Old, Something New: American Ballet Theatre Brings José Limon’s <em>The Moor’s Pavane</em> Surging Back to Life at City Center