“Dancing Pina” is not to be missed

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Sangeun Lee is a South Korean who dances “Iphigenia in Tauride” in Dresden

It was very moving to hear the director Florian Heinzen-Ziob and one of the dancers, Lucieny Kaabral from Cabo Verde introduce the film at the first public screening at the Cinq Caumartin theater. One always says that the first day of a new film is the thermometer of its success and at 2 pm, the room was almost full. “Dancing Pina”, is a documentary about the legacy of Pina Bausch, 1940-2009, the legendary dancer and choreographer who created the Tanztheater of Wuppertal. The dance theater as it would be called in English, presents the dancers as characters in a play, as individuals who reveal their own history while dancing. With her son, Salomon Bausch, who established the Pina Bausch Foundation, the German director developed two ballet rehearsals. One, Iphigenia in Tauride by Gluck takes place at the Semperopera in Dresden and the other, Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring, is created at Ecole des Sables near Dakar, Senegal. Both are rehearsed under the guidance of Pina Bausch’ former dancers, the Australian Josephine Ann Endicott and the French Malou Airaudo for whom the parts were created in the early 70’s.

Dancers from the Ecole des Sables performing on the beach near Dakar

If you are at all interested by contemporary dance or if you have seen some of Pina Bausch’s ballets this film is definitely a must.  The African dancers are powerful and moving in their great aspirations and many of the characters are developed. Three of the lady dancers talk about how unhappy there were to be too tall. Josephine Ann Endicott says she almost gave up because she had two extra kilos which were not accepted by her ballet master.

Josephine Ann Endicott is Australian and started as soloist with Pina in 1973. She trains the African girls at Ecole des Sables

Transmission is at the heart of “Dancing Pina” and Gloria from Lagos Nigeria, Franne from Benin, Lucieny from Cabo Verde are all mesmerized by the time and patience of their teachers who all worked with Pina. The images are beautiful whether in the studios of Dresden or in the Senegalese desert. And the passion with which both matured dancers and young apprentices live through music and b ballet is extraordinary.

Pina Bausch in Iphigenia

The director managed to give hope and dynamics to Pina Bausch’ posterity. At the end of the film, Covid enters the game and cancels all performances for which they had worked so hard. But the film is there and most of the lead dancers kept on the good work with ‘l’Ecole des Sables in Africa and the Semperoper in Dresden. What a great accomplishment for Florian Heinzen-Ziob. And as he said at the presentation, if you liked the film tell all of your friends because the first weeks are decisive…

The film just started in Paris so check in your own country if it’s playing… and rush.

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