What I’ve Been Watching: Pina

“So it’s like an artsy Step Up To The Streets?” one of my friends inquired when I showed him the trailer for Pina:

Essentially, that is the case. A dance movie for people who do not normally watch dance movies. Only, rather that trying to tack on some story about rival gangs, or someone trying to make it big, it merely shows some of Pina Bausch’s most famous routines from the Tanztheater Wuppertal.

The dancers are filmed both inside the theatre, and around the city of Wuppertal. Between the four routines featured, they talk about their relationship with Pina Bausch; her unique philosophy on this expressional form of dance; and how that impacted the routines they collaborated on.

From the offset, it is worth saying that a movie which merely shows people dancing will not be for everyone. However, for those with any interest in the medium, there is a lot of pleasure to be taken from the routines and performances on show.

In particular, it is easy to see the way each dancer is encouraged to come up with their own movements, choreography and style to fit each routine. Where as a film like Black Swan shows the pressures on dancers to become the character they portray, Pina shows the pleasure of being able to express your inner-self through the movements of your body.

As a result, the dancers are not merely performers but artists as well; giving us an insight into who they are through the language of their bodies.

What I found most interesting about the movie was the questions it asks in terms of the way each of us expresses ourselves to others. Most would claim it is primarily through what we say that we communicate our inner-selves to others. However, we have other choices available to us, whether that be the way we dress, the art we create, or even the way we dance.

Self-expression is never easy, however, our ability to do it and in doing do understand ourselves more fully, is one of the key battles we face daily. Or at least it’s a battle I face daily. But then again, why are listening to me? I’m the guy who enjoys writing pretentious reviews about pretentious expressionist dance movies.

In closing, my only real criticism of Pina is like watching say, Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience, it will leave you wishing you could watch these performers in the flesh, and not merely on the big screen. Nevertheless, given that most people will not have the opportunity to do so, it serves as a great tribute to Pina Bausch and this unique form of self-expression she helped create.


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