aExceptionally beautiful images can be seen in Florian Heinzen Zube’s new film “Dancing Pina” which is perhaps Bausch’s most famous work, “Sacre du printemps”. In the original 1975 version, called The Rite of Spring, dancers with their long loose hair and short, fluffy, silky dresses form a charming contrast against the dark, perfumed peat of the stage floor, as you can see in the documentary “Dancing Pina” Germaine Acogny, Ecole des Sables, then by the sea.
In the school there is a dance studio, the fourth wall of which can be fully opened, and so Heinzen-Ziob shows the preliminary work inside with the image of nature glistening with heat behind. This is a wonderful homage to those later travel-inspired pieces by Pina Bausch, in which she always incorporates images of the road. But nature is also present in the collections of the early stages, in the form of rocks, flowers, water or animals. What dances on the grass in theaters around the world, the sacrificial death rite of a girl, we see at the end of the film on the sand, in front of a majestic sky and sea, in a light that Europe can only dream of.
The director contrasts this with the second setting, the studio venue and stage Dresden Semperoper, where the company learns “Iphigenie auf Tauris”, a masterpiece of European Baroque art. The film tells how different generations of Wuppertal-Bausch dancers passed on to young people out of town two of their works. Watching this work, the process accompanies a workshop in empathy, communication and artistic expression. This bodes well for the future of this legacy.
It is still very difficult to keep the work of choreographers alive after their death. The live artistic survivors are mostly dancers. But every team member has different memories, and a different relationship to work. How much of the dancer appears in a piece to notice others, their roles and overall impression, and how much does the particle know?
After the death of Martha Graham, the pioneer of American modern dance, a sad time began to be cut, not immediately, but in the next generation. Dancers do not like to work in the museum. They need ammunition with which they can grow, but also choreographers who can invent new things with them, who inspire and challenge the brilliance of their movement.
Martha Graham’s dance troupe seemed boring at the time. Would it have been better to close the company back then, in the mid-1990s? From today’s perspective, definitely not. Martha Graham Dance Company is a great example of successful transformation. Operations like this sometimes take a long time. Even the New York City Ballet, whose founder George Balanchine died in 1983, has since gone through phases in which audiences and critics not only mourned the death of the choreographer, but also shared sad memories of past actors. But the current wonderful generation has forgotten all that.
The film expanded the possibilities of dancing
It depends on the lifelong dancers who still show the dances of the deceased. In the case of Merce Cunningham, the postmodern American choreographer who died the same summer with Pina Bausch in 2009, those who love his work are having a very hard time. His pieces are best danced by Ballets de Lorraine, taught by Peter Jacobson, director, and Thomas Calley, one of Cunningham’s most commanding dancers of all time.
Next spring you can watch Cunningham’s “Sounddance” there again. Alla Kovgan’s brilliant cinematic acclaim hit Cunningham in theaters in 2019, but those who hoped more ballet directors would include his work in their repertoire were disappointed. As early as 2011, the film Wim Wenders about Pina Bausch was a cinematic success. What Wenders had planned to be a movie with her in 2009, he then had to film as a posthumous tribute.
As much as dance formed the avant-garde at the beginning of the 20th century as a major art form, film expanded the possibilities of dance, especially as a storehouse of memory. Thanks to early motion pictures, we have an idea of how Loie Fuller really dances. Not only can complete choreographies be written down, but recorded from so many different camera views that rehearsing them on Mars will theoretically still be possible in a hundred years. In the film, the New York City Ballet documents how dancers pass on to the next generation the roles entrusted to them by Balanchine. Florian Heinzen-Ziob achieves something similar in an unobtrusive, but always close and delicate way to capture the dance together.