Vignettes Inspired by Pina Bausch

Viktor-Sadlers-Wells-1543 pina bausch

A scene from Viktor by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch @ Sadler’s Wells


Agony cavorts nightly at the bar
while songs divulge lost dreams
and broken expectations.
Notes clatter to the floor
as waiters wobble.Tables and
stools collapse. Patrons continue
to enter careful not to step on
limbs and organs lying there.


Outside garlands festoon the roadway.
A girl in gray chiffon pirouettes along the avenue.
With her eyes shut, she sings a liebeslied in toe shoes.
People move beside her forming a border to
her dance steps.


Random meets chaos forming art in the café.
lines overlay patterns –  abstractions of shapes
dissolving to nothing then reforming as something
else. Their shadows rise and fall disappearing
after they slither down the walls, moving to the
drum beat, they squat beneath occupied tables.


Blond man stands on an orange crate,
___________  orders:
“Dance happy as trains
loud as a dog that’s barking  JAZZ at linden trees.”

His blue eyes pierce the grayness
shining like moonlight on a saxophone.
An old couple rumbas on a black lacquer floor.
Their hips transpose rhythms to signals.
Their movement transforms time
into the value of pi.

Circles flatten
Spheres become cubes
the scene changes:

Sun drenched
the ballerina rotates in arabesque
(blood red)
on a platform……………..
a clock flies by
a train stops||
movement ……… dance feels like glass
                                 design …………………….light that flickers and moves
                                     structure………………………..dissolves into liquid

Another dancing dress ripples and flows down the tracks.


En pointe she lifts factories
She pulls down dictators
Her hair reaches up to the gate that reads:
Arbeit macht frei”
The smokestacks are quiet
Their shapes darken our history


Their trails crossed
Their shoes multiplied
They drank French and Russian
from ceramic cups
fired at 1300 degrees centigrade.

Meeting in skyscrapers
and on underground trains
noise wrapped them from view
yet branches of trees were
hung with silence.
Ancient fish awoke to
swim again.


Men began to fan their tails of a million eyes.
Girls hid all but their eyes behind large lace fans.
In a high school cafeteria,  a heavy black curtain
hides academic sins.


Workmen crowd at shop windows
Staring at undressed mannequins
Secretly they coveted their sisters’ dolls
and dream of undressing them.

The dolls cannot sing, recite poetry,
skip rope, or turn cart-wheels.
They can never run away,
refuse them or call them names.
No fierce warriors, bringers of light
(or darkness)
They only open and close
their eyes and nod their heads.


I wake
covered with strings
Behind us roars a waterfall
A river below us leads to some sea
What puppet-master dances me there?


Red shoes stomp
Palms mop the floor
Paso dobles wrinkle with heat


Dressed in black
she dances through her pain
her stomach’s riddled with holes
swastikas plague her steps in vain.

The wall behind’s alive with the art
of Diego Rivera- guitars strumming
flamenco. Her dress outlines all

November men balance on beams.
The light shifts
they live their dance before they fall.


19 thoughts on “Vignettes Inspired by Pina Bausch

  1. This is a lovely collection and I very much encourage you to put into publication ~ Each part is filled with movements yet working fluidly ~

    Wishing you all the best and hope to see more of you come April ~

  2. Oh my, this is amazing. The first part called to mind the book I’m currently reading, “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom. It’s a story of a fictional musician starting in the 1940s in Spain told from the point of view of MUSIC. The author weaves in known musicians. Loving it.

    • Thanks for that information. Sounds like something I would like to read. I’m finishing up the “Wicked”books. I’m on the third one. They’re so imaginative, but not crazy about the storytelling method. Thanks for the notes.

      • As I read your note again, I thought about how all art is related. Even if not immediately — a piece moves us and we put that experience into memory and then later use it as a touchstone to another way to deliver that thought artistically.

  3. You know your ballet terms! I remember an earlier series of vignettes inspired by Bausch. Have you considered making a collection? It would work so beautifull with photos of performances! (Although copyright may be an issue, of course).

    • Thank you – I am trying in my limited way to draw some illustrations. They’re very sloppy as my artistic skills are rudimentary. I am glad you liked the vignettes. I am a lover of dance but sadly not a dancer. I’m hoping in my next life..perhaps?

  4. Loved all your verses….very powerful write…..

    “Deception deep in DNA
    That life has no limits
    Stretches beyond horizons”

  5. Back here after reading Part 1 — So 2 for me found a stream of lieder into the art of that dance, intelligent and emotional, abstracted in order to find a way more deeply into the stream. How do we get to poetry’s depths–its mysteries–except through some wandering through history? That’s what I get here, a downward spiral of little rooms. Perhaps it is the dream language acquired here which enables the more knowledgeable connection with the art, a marrying of history and mystery. For me the gem at the bottom of the well, what’s worth keeping for future work, was said here: “Strings sing while feet dance / Behind the veil a girl moves / the urge to begin again is strong.” — Great stuff, Gay, such an encouragement to me that there is so much more yet to write!

  6. This is a dance indeed and this portion really spoke to me:

    “Their trails crossed time and melodies;
    their shoes multiplied. They learned
    from passing sheep and random cows.
    Potatoes raised from the earth, apples
    fell from the trees. They danced through
    color and blankness..pioneers–
    leaving behind angels and broken promises
    going forward to find the horizon.”

    I really appreciate the sense of listening to the earth and its animals.

    Well done!!

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