PINA: DANCE, DANCE, OTHERWISE WE ARE LOST (Wim Wenders, 2011)
BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St., through January 5, 718-636-4100, $15
IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St., extended run, 212-924-7771, $17.50
Back in 2004, in reviewing Pina Bausch’s Fur Die Kinder von Gesern, Heute und Morgen (For the Children of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow) at BAM, we wrote, “You don’t have to be a dance fan to love the always engaging Pina Bausch.” The same holds true for Wim Wenders’s loving 3-D documentary, Pina. The longtime director of Tanztheater Wuppertal, German choreographer Bausch created uniquely entertaining pieces for more than thirty years, combining a playful visual language with a ribald sense of humor, cutting-edge staging, diverse music, and a stellar cast of men and women of varying ages and body sizes, resulting in a new kind of dance theater. A friend of hers for more than twenty years, Wenders (Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas) was collaborating with Bausch on a film when she suddenly died of cancer in 2009 at the age of sixty-eight, two days before rehearsal shooting was to begin. Wenders decided to proceed, making a film for Pina instead of with her. Using the latest 3-D technology, including a specially developed camera rig mounted on a crane, Wenders invites audiences onstage as he captures thrilling, intimate performances of several of Bausch’s seminal works, 1975’s Le Sacre du printemps, 1978’s Café Müller, 1978 and 2000’s Kontakthof (Contact Zone), 2002’s Fur Die Kinder, and 2006’s Vollmond (Full Moon), which were selected by Bausch and Wenders together. The dancers seem to be more motivated than ever, reveling in Bausch’s building, repetitive vocabulary of movement and discussing how she inspired them with just a few words. As a bonus, Wenders includes footage of Bausch dancing Café Müller. Some members of the company also dance personal memories on the streets, in a factory, and aboard a monorail in and around Wuppertal. Pina is not a biopic; Wenders does not delve into Bausch’s personal life or have random talking heads discuss her contribution to the world. Instead, he focuses on how she used movement to celebrate humanity and get the most out of the men, women, and children who worked with her. In the September 2009 memorial ceremony held for Bausch at the Wuppertal Opera House, Wenders said, “I would like to ask all of you, finally, to cherish this treasure of Pina’s gaze. . . . appreciating that you knew Pina, that we all knew her gaze and were fortunate enough to experience such a priceless gift.” With Pina, Wenders has given us a beautiful gift, a wonderful tribute to his great friend. Pina is screening through January 10 at the IFC Center [ed. note: It continues to be extended there and is still running as of mid-June] and January 12 at BAM, where Tanztheater Wuppertal regularly performed since 1984, including most of the pieces featured in the film. Wenders will be appearing at a handful of screenings at IFC on January 6-7 and BAM on January 8 for intros, a book signing, and Q&As.