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January 24, 2012

Dance, "Pina," and Oscar

STILL 1.jpg
                                             © Neue Road Movies GmbH, photo by Donata Wenders

Wim Wenders' feature documentary "Pina," about the life's work of the late Pina Bausch and the dancers who dedicated their own artistic lives to her vision, got an official Academy Award nomination this morning. I saw the film in 3D at the Hollywood Cinerama Dome a few weeks ago and was dumbfounded by what Wenders and the cinematographers have accomplished.

The mesmerizing performance of Bausch's controversial "Rite of Spring" (pictured above) was what got me. Wenders and Alain Derobe (a specialist in 3D technology who provided critical technical support) had managed the impossible. They had bridged the uncrossable divide separating cinema and live performance. The one will never be the other, of course. But at many points, this film feels like a live dance event. It's those emotional sensations, which watching live dance provokes, that regular cinema has heretofore never been able to duplicate.

"Pina" gives the viewer a wider depth of field. You can see the dancers up close, and yet still see the full stage. The physicality is palpable and thrilling to experience, just as it is. Pumping it up with nauseating quick editing cuts and jerky camera moves would be foolish and is unnecessary. A prickly, twitchy sense invades your own body as you watch, a natural reaction of associating with the kinetic action onstage. It is amazingly pure.

Of course, not every director is as sensitive and visually brilliant as Wenders. I cheer for "Pina," despite the movie's flaws. (Wenders' individual portraits of each dancer contribute less than watching the segments of Bausch's choreography.) But I am genuinely excited about the potential of 3D and dance. Here is a tool that can truly capture this elusive art form, making it available -- thrillingly so -- to a much wider audience.

January 24, 2012 11:08 AM | | Comments (1)


hi laura,
so agree about wenders' pina. that opening scene when the camera pushes gently through the gauze onto the stage...sigh. it could make a whole generation fall in love with modern (and postmodern) dance....

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