Tag Archives: Pina Bausch

the mirror

Photo:  Jeffrey Anderson

I will say right from the start that it feels strange to post this picture.  Even though I am a performer.  Even though I was for a number of years, a model.

About ten years ago I stopped wanting my picture taken.  Age?  Probably.  Something else in the mix as well, I am sure. Something to do with hiding.  However, I am redoing my website, and it was suggested that new headshots were a good idea.  So I trekked to Glen’s Falls and Jeffrey  (with wife Laura and new baby Jeffrey in attendance) took some pictures.  I am not shy with Jeffrey.  So it felt ok to let myself be seen.

The reason that I bring this up is that I wrote yesterday about seeing the Wim Wenders film, Pina.  What I was aware of as I watched the astonishing dancers of her company was the absence of mirror in their dancing.  Their pure, wild absorption in the movement and the moment.  From their words, I understood that Pina was their mirror and their witness.  The big, allowing container for their movement that let them push themselves off precipice after precipice of their dancing and their fear.

As Shunryu Suzuki says in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind“When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

Today when I was in my studio, I turned my big mirror around, so that it was only the space and the music holding me.  At first, this was disconcerting – we dancers are mirrored creatures, seeking reflection, affirmation, information.  But then the movement began to tumble and spill.  Almost as if Pina herself were in the room, urging me to dance my longing, my love.



Dancing is not getting up painlessly like a speck of

dust blown around in the wind.

Dancing is when you rise above both words, tearing

your heart to pieces, and giving up your soul.


I saw the film Pina yesterday.  If you have not seen it you must. What came shining through for me is connected to what I am writing about for my class, Breaking into Blossom.  In the words of Stephen Nachmanovitch in Free Play:  Improvisation in Life and Art:  “The noun of self becomes a verb.”

I do not see a lot of that in dance performance.  I often feel too much self in the performance, as if a mirror is always there, reflecting the performer back at himself.  Something a little too ironic or clever.   Movement that is too opaque, too filled up with the performer.

What Wim Wenders’s film captures and what I saw time and time again in the theater with Bausch’s work, is the complete, exquisite surrender of the dancer to the dance.  Movement and mover inseparable, incandescent.