Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Artist of the Week: Pina Bausch

Monday night I went to see Pina, a 3D tribute to the late great choreographer Pina Bausch. Directed by Wim Wenders, the film is made of extended cuts of dance performances interspersed with portraits of each of the dancers who worked closely with Pina throughout her career. It was no long form documentary, delving into her life's details from birth until death. It was about dance. Her dance. The movements; awkward and graceful, conveyed the strength and fragility unique to her style of choreography. The sounds of each dancer's labored breathing, skin against skin, fists on flesh. The pieces were performed in a bed of brown soil spread thick over a stage, or in a room full of chairs, or out on the edge of a cliff. It was all so beautiful and so moving, and so unlike anything I'd ever seen in dance before. The only words spoken were played over each of the dancer's portraits, recalling just one or two lines about Pina's process or their relationship. Keeping with the spirit of dance---where words may only hint at a feeling, movement can convey so much more.

Pina died on June 30th, 2009 at the age of 68, five days after she was diagnosed with lung cancer (after years of heavy smoking (a surprising number of the photos I found of her online feature her with cigarette in hand)) and two days before shooting was scheduled to begin for the long-planned documentary. But somehow, the show had to go on.

Here is the trailer: 

Here is a clip of one of my favorite dances from the film: 

And here is another great moment:

- Cathleen 

[Top photo via James Waites via Getty Images]

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