DIDO'S LAMENT : PINA, MARK, JESSE

1.26.2012

THE ENGINE driving Wim Wender's "Pina"--its beating heart--is embedded film of the choreographer herself, in "Cafe Mueller," dancing to an aria from Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas." You can see below that this is the outer expression of an interior state. There's a very brief introduction before the clip, which drips with fretful, melancholic angst.
Pina Bausch


I'm not sure that anyone danced women's minds--or a kind of mind particular to some women, myself among them--better than Bausch. Within her dance, as she performs in a setting pulled from her past-- from the cafe her own parents operated, it is hard to say in what direction she is looking. Forward? Backward? But surely, inward. Within the movie--begun with her participation, completed after her sudden unexpected death--the lyrics tell us what the filmmaker is doing: following the directive in the aria, which is called "Dido's Lament." (You could, if you wanted to, think of Martha Graham's iconic solo called "Lamentation" as a related work.) Here is the lyric:

When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

It's the plot in the nutshell; it's the request granted in the very showing of it; it's heartbreaking.

HOW DIFFERENT, then, the Dido of Mark Morris, directed not inward, but outward. He--or I should say "she," for we are thinking not of the choreographer himself, but the character he played--is addressing Belinda, who is to him as a sister.

The clip from "Dido and Aeneas"  begins with a glimpse of the departing Aeneas (Guillermo Resto).

 MARK MORRIS
 

There's nothing inward about it. She is offering consolation, and asking to die in the arms of her companion:

Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I would, but Death invades me;
Death is now a welcome guest.

HERE BELOW is Jessye Norman, with  The Orchestra of St. Luke's and conductor Jane Glover, who is her Belinda-- the voice resting on the music; the music placing itself in support of the voice.
JESSE NORMAN



If to see Bausch is to understand what Dido felt; and to see Morris is to understand how Dido acted; to see Norman is to understand what  Dido was. The Queen of Carthage, woman and sovereign: royal, ravishing, ravaged.


VIRGINIA WOOLF ON WORDS

1.25.2012

"Words are full of echoes, of memories, of associations....
But words do not live in dictionaries. They live in the mind."

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