Serious fans of modern dance — which is to say, people who buy tickets for Crystal Pite or Alvin Ailey ahead of the Nutcracker — will likely swoon at Pina, the Oscar-nominated documentary about avant garde German choreographer Pina Bausch. Originally a dancer herself, Bausch led an unusual dance collective for 36 years until she died unexpectedly in 2009.
Directed with choreographic finesse by legendary filmmaker Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) and shot in 3D, this arresting portrait focuses much more on the dances than the woman who created them. We see extended excerpts from four of Bausch’s lengthier works, including a barbaric Rite of Spring performed on a dance floor covered in peaty soil; the equally primal Vollmond, where rain and a massive boulder are the dominant features on an otherwise bare stage; and the disturbing Cafe Muller, as a few of the dancers perform with eyes closed and other dancers keep whipping chairs and tables out of the way so that the “blind” dancers avoid any collision. As well, there are fragments of site-specific performances on a tramcar, in a park, at a grassy traffic median, and at the edge of a river (this last, a romantic pas de deux with a realistic-looking hippo).
Some of the dancing is lyrical, while many sections seem darkly psychological, if not tormented. The performances are intense and uncompromising: the very definition of love-it-or-hate-it contemporary dance. Gorgeously filmed and intercut with interviews with the dancers – many having been with Bausch for decades – Pina is a fascinating immersion in the psyche of a unique choreographer who remained enigmatic even to her dancers. Using only cryptic suggestions like “make me afraid” or “dance for love,” she forced them to look deeply into both themselves and the meaning of the dancer’s life. M
Pina ★ ★ ★ ★
Directed by Wim Wenders
Starring Pina Bausch, Regina Advento
NR – 103 minutes
Continues at the Odeon
In honour of Dance Victoria’s 15th anniversary, cocktail diva Lorna Harris created the “DV 15” signature libation. It consists of 1.5 oz. of Victoria Gin’s “oaken gin,” 8 drops of Peychaud’s Bitters, and .5 oz. each of fresh lime juice and sugar syrup; all to be shaken in an ice-filled cocktail shaker, strained into a champagne flute, then topped with 1.5 oz. of sparkling wine and garnished with a twist of lime. Sophistication in a glass!