What it is.

December 17, 2013

Yesterday I watched Pina and it kind of changed my life.

pina-bausch-springLe Sacre du Printemps is one of my favorite classical pieces.

Not in the way that I was so moved by her art that I just couldn’t keep the joy in my body– more like, I spent half of the movie trying not to tear my hair out because I was trying to make some sense of her personal thesis and couldn’t fucking do it. The lit theorist in me was trying to explicate all of this movement, or like, presumptuously add purpose to it and I just ended up confused.

The beauty of this confusion was that up until seeing this documentary, I had a really bloated idea of what dance *was* and then I had to take a look at all of this movement, and though it didn’t make a lick of sense to me, I had to accept that it was dancing. It is. It’s awesome! (I can also see a lot of Pina’s influence on Mats Ek’s work, which I loved.)

I was planning on finishing the movie anyway, but it almost left a bad taste in my mouth. Until one of her company members started talking about things that were really important to her: pain, exaltation, and the elements. I also noticed that every woman was wearing some sort of long gown in each piece, which was so lovely to watch. (Also harrowing at points, because I thought they might trip!)

After this became clear to me, I started working out certain elements of each piece. Rites of Spring for example was stunning because the entire stage was covered in dirt. I enjoyed it a lot because of my previous relationship to the music, but also, the choreography was a lot quicker than most of her other work throughout the movie.

There were a few pieces that actually brought me to tears.


Particularly this one, which was set to an Amon Tobin song. I feel like certain sects of electronica music are totally underrepresented in the dance community– but it’s likely because I’m laughably uneducated. The fellow who was describing this piece said that Pina had asked him to come up with a movement that represented “Joy” and she then decided to make a scene around it.

Then I understood: she is the most raw emotional switchboard operator I’ve ever seen. She takes broad things like ~*~emotions~*~ and turns them directly into movement. I wouldn’t call it a translation persay, more a direct representation of what this thing… is. It’s weird! It’s so opposite my own process that I just sat slackjawed through the rest of the documentary. There aren’t really any words to describe what’s going on (emotionally, I mean) or why it’s happening; just like there aren’t any proper words to appropriate certain feelings you have.

I was battling with myself this entire film to try and make something out of her work. Not really something, I guess more of a heads or tails situation.


I also cried after watching this dance as well. The concept is stunning, the choreography is simple, and the execution is utterly flawless.

What I loved most about Pina is that it completely turned my shallow definition of dance on its head.

Though I remain a little frustrated with my small mindedness (in terms of the desire to answer a lot of the “why”s Pina has in her work) I am so, so, so thankful that she could broaden my horizons in such an epic way.

Pina, I don’t understand you, but I know you’re fucking brilliant– and you totally rock.

Vielen dank!


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