Pina Bausch’s Café Muller is a striking piece of work. I want to even go as far as describe it as striking in a literal sense because the dancers have a fascinating relationship with the space and each other. There were several moments that stood out to me as I was watching. One being when the dancer would move through the space and a man with glasses and wearing a suit would push and shove the chairs out of her way. While the dancer is graceful in her movement, the man is not. At first I thought he was a well-dressed theatre tech who was standing in to make sure the dancer wasn’t hurt. His movements were less than graceful; in fact the movements were similar to normal everyday movement. Even his rigidness reflected our society. There were striking contrasts between the female dancers in the flowing white gowns and the dancers who were dressed more contemporary. The red headed dancer in a blue dressed and heels moved about the space in short little steps while wearing an overcoat. There was one more man from the well-dressed group, who was dressed in a suit and a moment that stood out was when he was trying to pose the male and female dancers, but they would fall out of their pose and return to their desired pose. Each time the man attempted to re-pose them, they would fall out of it. Faster and faster the man attempted to fix them.
As I watched the five videos, I was confused. At first, I thought this was taking place in an insane asylum. I made the assumption from the catatonic state of the blonde male dancer and the moment of violently pushing the chairs out of the way for the female dancer. The three that were better dressed seemed to represent stability and order. But then, they were slowly unraveling as well. I decided to do extra research to find the context of the piece (to answer the insane asylum question) and I found out that Bausch’s parents owned a café after the war. She created the piece based on her experience and it made me wonder what actions and events inspired such an emotionally charged piece. The dancers all use the space beyond their conventional uses and bring the audience in to share the same turmoil that the dancers are going through.