caetano veloso celebrates pina in "the man i love"

Escrito por Thiago Pinheiro

ArqBahia team of authors.

At the end of April 2023, renowned Bahian artist Caetano Veloso released a music video in honor of German choreographer Pina Bausch. The video, with soundtrack of the song "The Man I Love", was praised by Caetano himself, who considered the clip a "beautiful piece about love that made my singing sound better". In this article, we will explore the relationship between Caetano Veloso, Pina Bausch and the song "The Man I Love", as well as discuss the context in which the video was released.

Who was Pina Bausch?

Pina Bausch was a famous German dancer and choreographer, born in Solingen, Germany, on July 27, 1940, and died on June 30, 2009, in Wuppertal, Germany. She is considered one of the most important figures in contemporary dance and is known for her bold and exciting choreography that combined dance, theater, music and visual elements.

Pina began her career in classical dance, but quickly became interested in other forms of dance, such as German expressionism and modern dance. In 1973, she was appointed artistic director of Tanztheater Wuppertal, a dance company created especially for her. It was there that she developed her innovative style of dance, which blended elements of classical, modern and theatre dance.

Pina Bausch left a lasting legacy in contemporary dance, and her influence can be seen in many of today's dance companies and choreographers.

The choreography of Pina Bausch and the music of Caetano Veloso

The video released by Caetano Veloso is inspired by the work of Pina Bausch and uses the song "The Man I Love" as a soundtrack. The song was recorded by Caetano in 2004, on the album "A Foreign Sound", and is a composition by brothers George and Ira Gershwin, two of the greatest composers of American music of the twentieth century. 

No clipe, à beira da praia e em tons azulados como que um quadro da fase azul de Picasso, o ator e coreógrafo Antonio Miano faz a coreografia que foi feita por Pina para o espetáculo de 1982 chamado Nelken (Carnations). A escolha da coregrafia para o cover de “The Man I Love” não foi por acaso.

In Pina's choreography, the dancer performs, in sign language, the lyrics of the song. The choice of choreography in sign language, which dialogues with the lyrics of the song, suggests a search for a deeper and more authentic communication, which goes beyond conventional words and gestures.

"It's one of those American songs that we've been listening to since we were little. As an adult, in my youth, I heard it sung by Ella Fitzgerald and also by Billie Holliday, and I loved it even more. Later, I saw a show by Pina in which one of the dancers said the lyrics in sign language, which left me dazzled.
portrait of caetano veloso
Caetano Veloso in an interview for G1

The clip of Caetano Veloso: a point of view

The song "The Man I Love" is undoubtedly about waiting for an ideal. The ideal of the big, strong, understanding and protective man, who can give security and love in the life of the female lyrical self: the man she loves romantically.

Caetano's clip, however, also seems to speak with another type of ideal: that of self-love and the encounter with oneself, both as a creator and as a creature. 

In the painting "The Creation of Adam," the touch of the fingers between God and the first man symbolizes not only the connection between the two, but also demonstrates a God who recognizes himself in the beauty and perfection of his work, creating an admiration with himself. A god who, loving his creation as himself, is dedicated to protecting and guiding it. While Adam is reclining, it is God who is stretching, seeking to touch his being close to his creation.

In the photo below, we compare the detail of the hands in Michelangelo's painting "The Creation of Adam" and a frame from Caetano Veloso's music video.

Our relationship with ourselves does not differ so much from this: we have a tendency to love and admire ourselves and this is undoubtedly healthy and necessary to a measure. This relationship is what we baptize, from Freud, as narcissism. 

Narcissism is a psychological concept that has its origin in Greek mythology, more specifically in the story of Narcissus. According to legend, Narcissus was a very beautiful young man who, upon seeing his own image reflected in the water, fell in love with himself and ended up dying because he could not get away from the reflecting pool.

From this history, the term "narcissism" was coined by Freud as a way to describe one of the most primitive aspects of the human psyche, which refers to love for oneself and identification with one's own image. In psychology, narcissism can be considered as a basic human need, since everyone needs to feel valued and respected to some degree.

In art, the best-known representation of the myth of Narcissus is Caravaggio's painting "Narcissus", which is side-by-side with a frame of the clip: the reference, in this case, is clear.

In analytical psychology, water is often associated with the unconscious and the symbolism of dreams. In mythology and religions, water is also seen as a symbol of purification, renewal, and regeneration.

In the context of Caetano Veloso's clip, water assumes a double symbolic function: on the one hand, it represents the reflecting pool where Narciso fell in love with his own image, evoking the myth that gave rise to the concept of narcissism. On the other hand, water can also be seen as an element that symbolizes transformation, purification and renewal and can also be seen as a metaphor for the process of personal transformation and inner growth.

In one last act, the choreographer seems to start drowning and falling into the sea, until he appears upside down. The scene can be interpreted as if he had passed into another dimension: out the other side of the sea. What symbolizes the "becoming", as one who crosses the mirror and becomes who admired.

This view of the clip can be applied to many aspects of life, such as the desire to become similar to a father figure with whom we identify. Similar to that figure who once brought us security and understanding in childhood.

As Gilberto Gil said about his father in the song "Father and Mother": "Someone with his strength to protect me, someone with his affection to comfort me, someone with eyes and heart wide open to understand me", a description of someone similar to said in the song.

This is one of thousands of possible versions to see this clip and each person you ask will have a different answer. Tell me, how does this clip talk to you?

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