MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2

Content: +2

Performing Arts documentary. German, with subtitles. Directed by Wim Wenders. Opened in limited release December 23, 2011.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A leading influence in the development of the Tanztheater style of dance, Pina Bausch was the artistic head of Tanztheater Wuppertal, a German group that fuses modern dance with theatrical flourishes, creating a hybrid of the art form. Conceived before Bausch passed away (1940-2009), director Wim Wenders has delivered an expressionistic biography that celebrates her unique vision on the world of dance.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Some art uplifts the spirit of man, some attempts to explain his spirit, while other art merely serves as a conduit for its creatorís self-indulgence. Iím not sure in which category Pina, and this movie, belong. Though director Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) masterfully orchestrates his camera and the use of 3D in order to fully visualize the wondrous physicality of the filmís dancers, I left with a sense that I had missed something.

One canít help but be mesmerized by the performers and their interpretations on joy, frustration and fear, but itís not traditional ballet. This isnít Swan Lake or The Nutcracker. Iím not even sure it should be called ballet.

Pina refused to limit herself to the label choreographer. As with many artists, she demonstrated a disdain for the traditional. She preferred the concept of dance theater, and often gave audiences what could be called ballet of the absurd. What Samuel Beckett did with Waiting For Godot, Ms. Bausch did for dance. She was Andy Warhol in point shoes.

Although this abstract take on the art form may hold meaning for its creators, the resulting performance is often too mysterious for many questioning audiences. Some embrace it with the same blind pretense as the Emperorís ministers did over his invisible clothes, but others are more skeptical of its overall purpose. I fall into the latter category.

A couple of years ago I attended my first ballet with friend and fellow critic Loey Lockerby. Having not been a fan of ballets seen on television, I had told myself the one dance performance I would attend would be Coplandís Rodeo, as I love Aaron Coplandís music. Well, it was a perfect production and I have since become an enthusiast of live ballet. For me, itís one of those art forms best appreciated in the theater. But being somewhat of a traditionalist, Iím more moved by themes the audience can relate to rather than struggle to figure out. I like to be filled with a sense of ďWowĒ rather than ďHuh?Ē Pina Bausch seemed more intrigued by the ďHuh?Ē sensation.

While Pina impressed me for its craft and its theme of yearning, I was ultimately left unmoved emotionally. Thatís not what I want from the ballet. Or a movie.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Sundance Selects

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: None

Sex: Some sensuality in a dance number, but not overly graphic.

Nudity: Brief nudity.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Ms. Bausch is seen smoking several times.

Other: None

Running Time: 106 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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