PINA bausch, the film by Wim Wenders

PINA, the film is playing in Valley River Center, Eugene right now.  I took this rainy afternoon to see it…in 3D.  If you have a love of modern dance, don’t miss this film.

Pina Bausch was born in 1940 in Solingen, Germany, near Düsseldorf.  She died 3 years ago at age 68, five days after being diagnosed with a cancer and two days before shooting on the film began.  She is survived by her partner, Ronald Kay, and her son, Solomon.  In the film you can feel  the loss of this genius through her dancers as they speak of her and show us the results of her choreographic efforts.

Pina began dancing in 1955 at the age of 14 with Kurt Jooss at the Folkwangschule (School of the Arts) in Essen.  Kurt Jooss was one of the founders of German Expressionist Dance.  From Essen she traveled to Julliard in New York City, in 1960,  on a scholarship.  There she studied with Antony Tudor, Jose Limon, and Paul Taylor.  In 1962 she returned to Essen and joined Jooss’ new Folkvang Ballet Company.  By 1969 Pina had succeeded Jooss as the Artistic Director.  From there she became Artistic Director of the Wuppertal Opera Ballet, which became Tanz Theater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.  Quite an artistic feat for a 30 something.

Pina and her dancers (especially the women) are wiry and strong.  They all, obviously, are well-trained in technique, which gives them the latitude to extend their movement and go beyond the normal.  One of the dancers declared that Pina could see into your soul, but she was very sparse with her direction, leaving the dancers to find their way and make the movements their own.

Her most well-known dances are RITE OF SPRING (1975), and CAFE MULLER (1978).

Pina had a love of the elements…earth, water, air, stone, leaves, trees, …  In RITE OF SPRING, which was first shown in the US at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the stage is covered with dirt.  The dancers move on and through this earth as the females and males interact.  Very powerful.

CAFE MULLER is a study in tables and chairs.  This was developed with the dancers and you will see the result in the film.  Pina danced in this piece in 1978 and said she had to do it with her eyes closed to capture the emotion needed.

Several things about the company became clear.  One…there is constant interaction between the men and women.  Two…the ages of the dancers go from the very young to dancers in their 60s+.  Both the music and the costumes, not to mention some of the movements echo the 20s, 30s, and 40s.  Not so unusual when you consider that Pina Bausch was born in 1940.  She must have been influenced by the time period.  Pina’s choreography draws its movement from the dancers.  Jumping high or leaping across the stage is not the essence.  How do you relate to the environment, the other dancers, and your own inner consciousness.

As Pina says,  “…words are not enough…That’s when dance begins…”


About alonegwen

Retired educator interested in living life fully. Will write about aging wisely, good reads, food, travel, dance reviews, and other items as they interest me.
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