Pina, Wim Wenders’ Academy Award nominated 3-D dance film is now in theaters. For most dancers, would-be dancers and dance fans, the chance to watch dance in 3-D is enough reason to see the film, but there’s also an incredibly beautiful and rich aesthetic to the film that lives on in your mind long after the movie is over… you might want to see it twice.
Pina Bausch was a choreographer and dance visionary who loved to experiment. Her dancers are shown climbing over and through piles of furniture, flailing through puddles of water and waves, moving on a stage covered with dirt, climbing on rocks… Dance was her passion and her palette. The name of her company, Tanztheater, says it all. This is where dance meets performance art and theater, where human emotions and drama are expressed through movement, which seeks to fill the gaps when words just don’t suffice.
The film is comprised of several components, neatly woven together:
• archival film clips of Pina
• live performances
• interviews with her dancers
• Pina’s dance taken out into the world
The most stunning moments of the film occur when Pina’s choreography is taken out of the theater and into the world. The women wear elegant, flowing silk gowns and the men wear suits. Vibrant color is set against urban landscapes, such as busy traffic intersections, a community indoor swimming pool and an elevated subway. There are snippets of dramatic dance in a building made of glass, at the edge of a high cliff…
Often there is humor. A ballerina practices her grand plies under a dim spotlight in an graffiti-laden abandoned train tunnel…. only as the camera pans closer do we realize the ballerina is actually a man… and his tutu is flapping open in the back. A female ballerina announces, “This is veal!” as she produly displays a pan of meat. She then uses the meat to pad her pointe shoes as she bourrees endlessly. We see the meat poking out of the tops of her shoes.
The resounding message from the dancers is that Pina was a memorable leader… and a woman of few words. She seemed to see through people and to know the right questions to ask to get the results she was looking for. Her dancers swear she saw everything, even when her eyes were closed. Some quotes:
• What are you yearning for? Where does this yearning come from?
• Show me a movement of joy
• Dance for love
Pina offers the viewer a taste of Tanztheater and insight into the woman who brought it to life. Just like life, her work is sometimes achingly beautiful, other times almost too painful to look at, and always a surprise.