December 18, 2011

Pina: Without dance we are lost

When I was a young whippersnapper, the youth club where I hung out at offered a course in modern dance, just for fun, mind you, not to eventually do a public performance. My good friend Riet was the course leader and I remember (this is about 35 years ago) her talking about this German choreographer woman Pina Bausch. The quite physical intensity of the weekly course I still enjoy having taken part in because it was just such enormous fun to try and express emotions into dance. I particularly remember trying out falling in love with a bare wall and how to explain that to it.
Ms Bausch sadly passed away two years ago just before a film about her work and life was about to start shooting by Wim Wenders. I watched the resulting documentary at our local marvellous little Waiheke cinema and the focus is very much on her troupe, with only token but poignant archive material of her choreographing and dancing in some of her productions. Had she lived longer the film would have had very different focus, more about her, how she worked and where she got her artistic creativity from. But as it is, her dancers explain what it was like working with her, for her and how she got into their heads (and they into hers).
A raft of extracts from her productions gives an excellent overview and feel for what she did, but there is very little background information on how any of the dance theatre pieces were developed, which leaves you a bit baffled if you have no idea who she is and why she is a pivotal figure in modern dance and theatre.
Some is quite hard to watch (some critics say her work has to be experienced rather than watched) but I thought several pieces were exhilarating and I would have loved to join in, especially Vollmond:

More clips from Pina here.
I must add that a fantastic guest role in the documentary is performed by the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. It's such a cool piece of public transport kit!

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