Photo: © Jochen Viehoff
Used with permission
First performed May 14, 1986
Music and Credits
"Viktor" usually moved at a brisk pace. Yet, like most of Miss Bausch's productions, it was undeniably peculiar. To come to terms with her works, several things should be remembered. Miss Bausch favors theatrical collages of fragments of dance, speech and gesture with recorded music punctuating emotional climaxes. The spoken text of ''Viktor'' was in English, and the accompaniment was a potpourri of symphonic music, folk tunes and music composed for social dancing from the Middle Ages to the Jazz Age.
Whereas many kinds of things happen in Miss Bausch's productions, all are related to a few themes that totally obsess her. If these obsessions sometimes limit her range of vision, they are responsible for her theatrical intensity. ''Viktor'' was often quite intense, but it also contained mordant humor.
The New York Times
29 June 1988
It seems Bausch is not so much choreographing a piece as making a commentary on dance. Somewhat banally, a woman stuffs raw meat, and then her feet, into ballet shoes and performs a classical solo on pointe, only to chuck it away with a gesture. It is tempting to read a scene combining carpentry with conjuring as a comment on the choreographer's art, and the recurring auction as the constant need to find money. And how else can we interpret the cast buttering rolls and filling them with jam to feed the audience with as anything but a gesture of love?
The second half is dominated by a figure wrapped in black, an old crone with a ballet master's stick, who conducts exhausting dance classes like athletic competitions; this is fact not fantasy, for the crone turns out to be the company's ballet-master, Dominique Mercy. The idea of death, the dance of death - and the death of dance - inevitably surfaces. Yet dance is also pure joy, as when girls in long dresses swing on gym ropes through the air to Jerome Kern's The Way You Look Tonight.
The Sunday Times (London)
31 January 1999
The imagery is breathtaking in its weirdness and often in its beauty. But what's also profoundly characteristic of Bausch is that, however bizarre and fragmented the action, we feel we get to know her characters, and at some level to love them. She is a brilliant director, and her wonderful performers possess the physical and imaginative discipline to communicate entire lives and personalities through a few precise gestures or perfectly pitched words.
The result is that she escapes rhetorical pessimism to create something complicated, expansive and humane. Even though she shows us pain and neurosis, a lot of it is very funny. Even though she shows us blindness and credulity, we can see wit and hope. Her women may suffer but she dresses them up in gorgeous ballgowns and sends them swinging ecstatically through the air. She also provides them with the attentions of a group of older men (recruited from the Sadler's Wells over-sixties dance club) who radiate a divine old-fashioned charm. The people in Viktor may be on the verge of extinction but, like Beckett's characters, there's something irresistible in their psychotic inventiveness, physical exuberance and stubborn will to survive.
The Guardian (London)
30 January 1999
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