Review: Wim Wenders in Pina (3D) at Curzon Cinemas

Performance: April - May 2011
Reviewed by Carole Kew - Wednesday 11 May 2011

'Pina' - a film by Wim Wenders.

The sudden loss of Pina Bausch two years ago left a momentary void in the lives of the many dance-goers who knew her work. No new vistas to explore with Pina and her dancers; a halt to the planned film collaboration with director Wim Wenders. But then came news that the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch would continue under the artistic direction of Dominque Mercy (a company dancer since 1973) and *Robert Sturm (*an artistic associate since 2000). And news arrived that Wim Wenders would go ahead with the film.

*Pina, a film for Pina Bausch*, has just premiered in London. Part-elegy and part-celebration, the screen presents a panorama of the choreographer’s life lived through and with her company of dancers. Shot in 3D, this new medium opens up the space and brings the audience into the dance. Filmed scenes from the company’s productions (*Cafe Muller, Rite of Spring, Kontakthof*) contrast with moments of reflection as the camera focuses on a close-up of each dancer’s face. Accompanied by a voice-over, each one recalls a particular encounter or remembered observation from their time with Pina. The dancers’ faces are etched with memory as they re-live moments from the past or imagine fresh possibilities (Pina dancing with the also recently deceased Japanese butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno). Any sense of loss is lightened by a recognition of the artistic achievement arrived at under Pina’s direction. The dance came from the dancers, what moved them emotionally and physically, and lives on within each as an embodied memory of their time together. More unexpected are the interludes outside the theatre as the company break out into dance on the streets and parks of Wuppertal or venture into the hilly surroundings of the Bergisches Land. As the film cuts from one scene to the next it echoes Pina’s own choreographic process – a reminder of the skill with which she fashioned intimate disclosures into solos, duets, or streams and flows of moving bodies to create a shifting panorama of life. Hovering throughout the film is the choreographer herself, glimpsed in brief moments as a backdrop, laughing, moving, and watching.

How hard she worked, comments one dancer. A new dance almost every year. Ten of these dances come to London in 2012 as a highlight of the Cultural Olympiad. The month-long season of the World Cities 2012 tour celebrates the company’s time spent on location in various cities of the world: India, Brazil, Palermo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Budapest, Istanbul, Santiago de Chile, Rome and Japan. Each dance has its own signature set and brings with it another reminder, this time of the choreographer’s love of environment as rocks, water, trees, and flowers fill the stage. Created over a time-span of twenty-three years, the productions vary in length. Some, like Nur Du (Only You, 1996) last over three hours whilst others like Bamboo Blues (2007) are shorter. The amount of dance (Tanz) and speech (Theater) also varies between productions. These two aspects come together to make up the unique Tanztheater Wuppertal experience. London as a world city, home to a diverse population and many languages, is a suitable site for this ambitious programming. It presents a catch-up opportunity for anyone who’s missed out on certain dances never seen in London and acts as an introduction for those new to her work, perhaps attracted by the film Pina.

The artistic legacy of Pina Bausch is assured, not just through the continuation of her works by the company, but through the creation of an archive in Germany – the Pina Bausch Foundation. This will bring together all the material collected over the creative lifetime of the choreographer. It will include around 7,500 videos and 35,000 reviews and photos as well as props, programmes, production notes and other material. Preservation and cataloguing are currently underway. When ready, the archive will be opened up to anyone interested in Pina’s work. Future access arrangements include the proposal for an on-line digital version. In the meantime, there are the dances to see. And the film, whose poster sounds out Pina’s call to ‘dance, dance, otherwise we are lost! Tanzt, tanzt, sonst sind wir verloren! ‘ Life depends on dancing.

World Cities 2012 6 June – 9 July at the Barbican and Sadler’s Wells is on sale now **”“:

*Pina 3D* is showing at Curzon cinemas

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