The reason this is such a fantastic documentary is because it doesn’t consist primarily of boring interviews and stultifying background information. This is almost pure performance art. And it’s very unique.
It’s difficult to describe creative, but these dancers paying tribute to their mentor and teacher, Pina Bausch, are nothing short of mesmerizing. They do their routines not only on the stage, but on a sidewalk, out in a field, beside a fountain, in front of a playground, inside a moving train, in an alleyway, under power lines beside an industrial plant---in short, anywhere. Anywhere is a good place for fantastic artistry, and expressive movement. When they have an orchestra, they move to the music; when they don’t, they move to the music inside of them. This is interpretive dance at its finest, challenging and “outside the box” but not so weird and atonal that it leaves behind a mainstream audience.
Some of these incredible athletes have been on the same “team” for twenty years or more, which is a testament both to their perseverance and their affection for their heroine, Pina. We see her, sometimes just smoking and talking, sometimes demonstrating a flowing movement to a student, sometimes performing herself---but she remains somewhat of a mysterious enigma to the outsider, who can’t, of course, see the kind of mystical bond that has obviously formed between her and her adoring protégés. It’s rare, in the artistic world, for troupes to be together that intensely that long. So we understand that this lithe German from Bremen could attract students from Spain , and France , and Japan , and literally all over the world. And they wouldn’t come just to sit at the feet of their guru---they would learn how to move their own feet.
The personal interviews with the dancers are done in an interesting way---very brief statements, but the audio is dubbed over a sitting, silent, face shot---as if we could feel their physical presence and energy while hearing their thoughts, but they were still something of an enigma because of the disconnect between what we were seeing and what we were hearing. It’s the kind of technique that would have made Pina proud---even a talking head is done differently; artistically.
Of course, “Pina” isn’t for everyone. But for all who are interested in the various expressions available just from sheer body movement, you’ll be enthralled.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas