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When the curtain opens on a stage blanketed in silk flowers, a beginner might think “Nelken” (“Carnations”) by Pina Bausch was about to offer some sweetly whimsical vision of poetry in three dimensions. That, however, would be to ignore dark underlying themes of power and love, and a certain sagacious humor, for which the late, great German choreographer is renowned.

First staged in 1982, and featuring a range of music from Franz Schubert to George Gershwin, “Nelken” returns to Japan after 28 years with performances at Saitama Arts Theater from March 16 to 19 by the Tanztheater Wuppertal company Bausch took over in 1973.

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