Art & Design » Dec 23: Pina
Dec 23: Pina

Dec 23: Pina

Only begrudgingly, and at the behest of his then girlfriend, did renowned filmmaker Wim Wenders take in a Pina Bausch retrospective while vacationing in Venice, Italy, in 1985. “I was completely shattered from the experience,” recalls the director, who soon after approached the famed German choreographer about making a documentary. “She had the most piercing eyes I’d ever seen,” he recalls. “And when she looked at you, you thought she was looking right through to your soul—but it wasn’t scary.” Their project, however, took two decades to get off the ground after Wenders discovered that conventional filmmaking couldn’t capture Bausch’s orgiastic body language and unorthodox use of natural elements like water, rocks, and dirt. But after seeing the 2007 concert film U2 3D at Cannes, Wenders decided that 3-D was the way to go and spent the next two years developing special cranes and single-lens setups that could move with Bausch’s dancers during the Wuppertal Dance Theater’s 2009–2010 season. When Bausch died unexpectedly (five days after being diagnosed with cancer in 2009), her dancers persuaded Wenders to press on. The resulting tribute, PINA—which hits U.S. theaters this month and includes excerpts from four signature works: LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS (1975); CAFE MULLER (1978); KONTAKTHOF (1978); and VOLLMOND (2006)—explodes off the screen with the same fragile strength that her live performances once conjured. Says Wenders: “The impetus to make the film was to share it with as many people as possible—not necessarily aficionados, but people like me before I saw my first piece: people who think dance is not for them.”

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