REVIEW: Searching for Pina, the spirit of a dance choreographer in 3D

Mohamed A. Bary, Sunday 27 Nov 2011

Pina Bausch, a German dancer, choreographer, opera ballet director and overall a strong influence in the world of modern dance taught her dancers to constantly seek; Wim Wedner’s 3D documentary brilliantly delivers her message


Originally, this film was meant to be a collaboration between Wim Wenders and Pina Bausch herself about her life and her dance company in the Tanztheatre in Wuppertal. As this documentary was launching, Pina Bausch died at 68, an influential event that shapes the spirit of this documentary.

The audience gets to know Pina in this film from intermittent archival footage of her, and mainly from her dancers, who perform her choreographies. Wim Wenders' explored Pina by focusing on the personal, intimate relationship between her dancers and her art.

The film delivers a deep understanding of Pina’s thematic dances and her character, gently flowing through her dancers' brief, personal statements, mixed with detailed choreography, which is heightened by the 3D experience.

Never do we see a talking head or voiceover commentary describing factual information about Pina Bausch or her career. Nor do we hear flattery on her generous character.

We are thrown into her art through her dancers. They express their lament and yearning for Pina through their performances. Wenders communicated this yearning through the language of dance. We get to know Pina through the same medium she devoted her life to.

The film features key works of Pina Bausch like Café Muller, where dancers move around a closed room banging chairs and tables, and Rite of the Spring, where the stage is completely covered with soil. In most the dances we see in the film, themes of beauty, sorrow, loneliness, and relationships repeat themselves constantly.

The directorial vision of Wim Wenders helped manifest those themes, through an imaginative mis-en-scene of the choreography, and a harmonious camera movement. Wenders contextualizes each dance, with a detailed background that describes to us the feelings of Pina’s dancers, and sheds light on Pina’s character. Through a series of performances and thought snippets from Pina’s dancers, the viewer gets closer to Pina Bausch.

Being an established auteur, Wim Wenders subtly provides his own interpretation of Pina’s life.

Common to all his films, the location of the city is featured more than one once in the film and during various dances. We see train stations, bridges, cars and traffic lights juxtaposed with a gentle choreography. The choreography features common Pina Bausch elements, such as loneliness, male-female tensions and sorrow.

The city element in Wender's documentary helps highlight the state of longing and searching that Pina and her subjects have embodied.

Pina pushed her subjects to constantly seek out others; both outside and inside themselves. The documentary, then, centres mainly on this tension. Throughout this documentary the dancers reflect on their experiences with Pina and their lament over an emptiness in their hearts. And they do what Pina always asked them to do: search.

Pina’s dancers were the paintbrushes that created her paintings. It is through those small strokes on the canvas that we get to know the whole.  

If Pina Bausch is dead, Wim Wenders has succeeded in bringing her to life in this film through the language of dance.

After seeing the film, one cannot help but believe in what Pina said: “Dance Dance, otherwise we are lost.”



Friday 25 November, 1pm - Cinema Galaxy, 67 Abd El Aziz Al Saud St., El Manial

Saturday 26 November, 6:30pm - Cinema City Stars, Omar Ibn El Khattab St., Nasr City

Sunday 27 November, 9:30pm - Cinema Galaxy, 67 Abd El Aziz Al Saud St., El Manial

Tuesday 29 November, 3:30pm - Cinema City Stars, Omar Ibn El Khattab St., Nasr City

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