Friday, 13 May 2011


Wim Wenders biopic of the late choreographer Pina Bausch caused half a dozen people to walk out of the QFT in Belfast when I watched it this week.
There is a barely suppressed sexual energy, often violent, about many of Bausch's pieces but I also suspected that the walk-outs may have had more to do with people not really understanding what was happening. I certainly didn't.
The highly stylised movements and interactions between the dancers set to a mixture of classical, jazz and contemporary music defies interpretation.
Like abstract painting or avant garde music, contemporary dance is intended to express the inexpressible, to tug at some emotion that can not be articulated by mere words.
Bausch's best-know piece, Cafe Muller, involves women in clinging white chiffon dresses, with their eyes shut tight, seeming to be reluctantly dragged by some unseen force from one end of a stage to another, while a waiter hurls tables and chairs out of their way. It features as the opening scene of Pedro Almodovar's Hable Con Ella.
It is a Beckettian scenario, absurdist and non-sensical. I haven't a clue what is going on while watching it, what it is supposed to mean or symbolise, but it is strangely moving.
The film Pina was narrated by members of the German-based dance ensemble who worked with Bausch, some of them for more than two decades.
There was footage of Bausch herself, occasionally dancing or talking about her methodology, but Wender's, correctly concentrated on the dances she choreographed - visual representation of her psychic landscape.
There were generous extracts, sometime recreated in the urban setting of Wuppertal in northern Germany where Bausch's Tanztheatre company were based.
Even though the QFT screening was in 2D it was cinematographically stunning. I would love to see the three-D version but can't see it getting an airing somehow in our local moviehouse.
Pretentious? Probably, but a superb and inspiring 1hr 45min experience.

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