The celebrated German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch died in June 2009 at the age of 68 just as she was to collaborate with her friend Wim Wenders on a 3D film about her life and her dance company at the Tanztheater in the industrial town of Wuppertal, south of the Ruhr. But Wenders continued with the project, filming brief, not especially revealing statements by her dancers about working with Bausch and eloquent extracts from several key works. These are her rather conventional interpretation of Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps; Kontakthof, an exuberant piece set in a dance hall; the highly dramatic Café Müller, which features encounters between six dancers in a restaurant where the tables and chairs are constantly rearranged; and Vollmond, where her troupe pursue one another and splash in the water around a massive rock. The dances and dancers sometimes move out of the theatre and rehearsal rooms into the streets of Wuppertal to perform on and under the city’s monorail and in a park.
It’s an immensely attractive film that uses 3D interestingly to create theatrical space and it makes one want to learn more about Bausch and the development of her art. I most enjoyed a piece in which the company, wearing lounge suits and full-length dresses, process around a theatre, then along the rim of an abandoned quarry to Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five’s version of “West End Blues”.
The Observer, Sunday 24 April 2011