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Sunday, May 19, 2024

In review: Pina

Pina Bausch, the German contemporary dance choreographer whose career spans both the forefront and avant garde of dance, is the subject of Wim Wender’s film.

Currently playing at Varsity Theatre on Second Street, Pina celebrates the life and contributions of an artist true to her craft. The film documents the style of dance most prolific with Bausch called “Tanztheater.” Combining the stark presence of an elaborate stage and the deft movements of the dancers makes for a stylistic progression that was novel in the ‘70s.

Being in the crutch of the movie theater cushion relieves some of the magic from the “stage” of Pina. The movie attempts to recreate the experience normally received at a theater: a stage, live performers and the physicality of it all. Here, the silver screen is your stage. One really can feel the flatness of it all. But as a movie celebrating the tenured life of Bausch, Pina succeeds, creating an overarching presence of Bausch, even if she cannot be there herself.

Pina combines renditions of her most famous dance works, mixed with dances performed in locals she most frequented in her life. Frühlingsopfer, Café Müller, Kontakthof, and Vollmond divide the movie into four acts. At times, the film does patchy work transitioning from set pieces. The narration has some faults in the difficulty of conveying who Bausch is.

Her dance company, Tanztheatre Wuppertal, makes up the dancers and the subjects of Wender’s film. Between the performances, the film overlays interviews that frame Bausch in different perspectives from her dancers. The entire movie, in a sense, is a celebratory work, honoring the late Bausch. Honor is duly given to Bausch, who in short deserves the film’s dedication. In all, Pina is an enjoyable film for those who know a bit about Bausch’s life. For having read this article, you should be all set.

PETER AN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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