PINA in 3D is coming to Philadelphia and we are giving away FREE tickets to the advance screeningDec 27th, 2011 | By Steven Weisz | Category: Dance On Film
Enter for your chance in win a complimentary pass for two to see PINA in 3D before it opens in Philadelphia on January 27th (currently scheduled for opening at the AMC Neshaminy and the Ritz Center 16 in Voorhees, NJ. and still being negotiated for the Rave University City). Please note that seating is first-come, first-serve so it is best to arrive early.
PhiladelphiaDANCE.org is giving away a total of 25 admit two passes for the screening PINA 3D on Wednesday, JAN. 18TH, 2012 at 7:30PM at the RAVE UNIVERSITY CITY located at 40th and Walnut Streets.
Winners will be selected by random drawing on Friday, January 13, 2012 and notified by email. No purchase is necessary. Void where prohibited. Once notified, winners will have 24 hours to accept the free ticket offer. Failure to respond will result in another winner being randomly selected.
Final winners will have tickets held in their name at the box office for the day of the screening. ID may be required to pick up your tickets. Only one entry per person please. Duplicate entries will be ignored.
CONTEST HAS NOW ENDED.
(Special thanks to Jenny Bertolette and Allied-THA for working with PhiladelphiaDANCE.org to make this possible!)
We realize that this article is a bit lengthy, but the film is so incredible, that we thought you would like to know a bit more about the work, the film and the development behind it…
In his exhilarating new film, German master Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, The Buena Vista Social Club) shoots in 3D to capture the brilliantly inventive dance world of legendary choreographer Pina Bausch. Wenders had conceived with Bausch a dance film like none seen before, one which would take the fullest advantage yet of new 3D technology to put the viewer deep inside Bausch’s playful, thrillingly unpredictable pieces. After her untimely death in 2009, Wenders continued with the project, turning it into the most exciting tribute he could imagine. Sensual and visually stunning, PINA uses 3D to remarkable effect, taking the audience into Bausch’s work in her imaginative sets (a gliding monorail, a bare stage covered with chairs, a towering man-made waterfall) and powerfully rendering the beauty and sheer physicality of the dances and dancers of her Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble.
The Development of the Project
Wim Wenders was deeply impressed and moved when in 1985 he saw for the first time “Café Müller“ by choreographer Pina Bausch when the Tanztheater Wuppertal performed in Venice, at the occasion of a retrospective of Busch’s work. Out of the meeting of the two artists grew a long-standing friendship and with the passage of time the plan for a joint film. However, putting the plan into action failed for a long time because of the limited possibilities of the medium: Wenders felt that he had not yet found a way to adequately translate Pina Bausch’s unique art of movement, gesture, speech and music into film. Over the years the joint film project turned into a friendly ritual, almost a running gag, with both artists reminding one another of their plan. “When?” “As soon as I know how…”
The defining moment finally came for Wim Wenders when the Irish Rock band U2 presented their digitally produced 3D concert film “U2-3D“ in Cannes. Wenders knew immediately: “With 3D our project would be possible! Only in this way, by incorporating the dimension of space, I could dare (and not just presumingly), to bring Pina’s Tanztheater in in an adequate form to the screen. “ Wenders began to systematically view the new generation of digital 3D cinema and in 2008 together with Pina Bausch to consider the realization of their shared dream. Together with Wim Wenders, Bausch selected “Café Müller“, “Le Sacre du printemps“, ”Vollmond“ and “Kontakthof“ from her repertoire and added them to her 2009/2010 season.
Shock and A New Beginning
In early 2009, Wim Wenders and his production company Neue Road Movies, together with Pina Bausch and the Ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, began the phase of actual pre-production. After half a year of intensive work, and only two days before the planned 3D rehearsal shoot, the unimaginable happened: Pina Bausch died on June 30th 2009, suddenly and unexpectedly. Around the world admirers of her art and friends of the Tanztheater Wuppertal mourned the death of the great choreographer. This seemed to be the end of the joint film project. Wim Wenders immediately stopped preparations, convinced that the movie, without Pina Bausch, should no longer be pursued.
After a period of mourning and reflection and encouraged by many international appeals, the consent of the family, and the request of staff and dancers of the ensemble who were just about to start rehearsing the pieces selected for the film, Wim Wenders decided to make the film without Pina Bausch at his side, after all. Her inquiring, affectionate look at the gestures and movements of her ensemble and every detail of her choreography was still alive and present and inscribed into the bodies of her dancers. Now, in spite of the great loss, was the right moment, and maybe the last one to record all this on film.
The new film concept includes, in addition to excerpts from the four productions of “Café Müller“, “Le Sacre du printemps“, ”Vollmond“ and “Kontakthof“, carefully selected archive footage of Pina Bausch at work, innovatively inserted in the 3D world of the film as a third element, with many imaginative, short solo performances by the dancers of the ensemble. To achieve this, Wim Wenders used Pina Bausch’s own method of “questioning” with which the choreographer developed her new productions. She posed questions and her dancers answered not in words, but with improvised dance and body language. They danced intimate feelings and personal experiences from which Pina Bausch, during intensive working sessions with her ensemble, developed her pieces. Wim Wenders turned to this method when he invited the dancers to express their memories of Pina Bausch for the film in individual solo performances. Wenders filmed these different solos for PINA in numerous locations in and around Wuppertal: in the countryside of the Bergisches Land, in industrial facilities, at road crossings and in the Wuppertal Suspension Line. They give the dancers of the ensemble individual faces, and form an exciting, polyphonic addition to the composed pieces of “Café Müller“, “Le Sacre du printemps“, ”Vollmond“ and “Kontakthof“.
Tanztheater Wuppertal ‘s long-time costume designer, Marion Cito, summed up the work with Wim Wenders and his film crew during the filming: “Like many of my colleagues, I sometimes cannot believe that Pina Bausch is no longer here. The great sadness is still far from over. To get over it needs more time. One senses, however, that she lives on in her works. Everything I do, even the filming, I do for Pina. That helps. I think it’s really great that Wenders is shooting his movie now, because Pina wanted this very much. “
Fabian Prioville and Azusa Seyama in Wim Wenders’ PINA. ©Neue Road Movies GmbH, Photo by Donata Wenders. A Sundance Selects release.
Virgin Territory and a Totally New Experience
PINA is not only one of the first European 3D movies ever, it is also the world’s first 3D art house film. Producer Gian Piero Ringel was faced with no easy task: “Technologically as well as with the genre, we enter completely unchartered territory with PINA. Even to find the technical experts for the development and implementation was a challenge, as there were very few.” Currently a new film language is being developed through the digital 3D process – a challenge for any producer. “Many other directors are still hesitating to work in 3D, because there are no successful models. We wanted to be a pioneers in the expansion of the cinematic language to 3D.“
But conquering new territory requires a special effort: “Everyone involved in the production had to learn how to make a 3D dance movie. What works in 2D, does by no means have to work in 3D. For this we needed proper research”, says 3D Producer Erwin M. Schmidt. He continues: “In an ongoing learning process, we acquired the know-how for the preparation, the shoot and the post-production.”
“The new 3D process opens up an entirely new perspective on the Tanztheater, “ said a delighted Dominique Mercy, one of the two artistic directors of the Wuppertal Tanztheater, during the filming. “To work at this with Wim Wenders and his crew is a wonderful experience. It is a huge joint journey of exploration.
Wim Wenders continues to find out more and more about what the Tanztheater can be, and we discover with the film team a whole new way of working. It is a very creative atmosphere.”
“With the new 3D technology, Wim Wenders picks up the work of the Tanztheater that always consisted in crossing boundaries”, explains Peter Pabst, set designer of the Tanztheater Wuppertal since 1980 and Art Director of the film production PINA. “Crossing the border between the stage and the viewer is an important part of the choreography. The dancers are constantly engaged with the audience, even physically coming down from the stage. It has always played a crucial role for Pina Bausch that her pieces are completed first in the heads, eyes, heart and in the feelings of the audience.”
With PINA, Wim Wenders conquered a new dimension of filmmaking and yet says already during the filming: “As much as we need the third dimension, we are simultaneously doing our best to make the audience forget this very ‘conquest of space’. The plasticity should not call attention to itself, but should make itself almost invisible, so that Pina’s art becomes even more evident”
Ditta Miranda Jasjfi in “Vollmond” in Wim Wenders’ PINA. ©Neue Road Movies GmbH, Photo by Donata Wenders. A Sundance Selects release.
PINA was filmed in Wuppertal in three stages: in autumn of 2009, in spring and in summer of 2010. In the first stage “Café Müller“, “Le Sacre du printemps“ and “Vollmond“ were performed live on stage at the Wuppertal Opera House, some in front of an audience, and recorded in their entire lengths. The tight global tour schedule of the Tanztheater allowed only this window for the filming. In addition to the complex 3D recording, the challenge increased significantly with the live situation, because the recordings could not be interrupted or repeated. The complexity of a 3D live recording required intensive preparation and planning.
For the 3D image composition Wim Wenders convinced one of the most experienced 3D pioneers in stereography, Alain Derobe, to join his team. For the unique requirements of the shoot of PINA, Derobe developed a special 3D camera rig mounted on a crane. To create the depth of the room it is very important to stay close to the dancers and to follow them: “Normally, with a dance film, we would erect cameras in front of the stage, far away from the action on stage,” says Alain Derobe, “for PINA we positioned the cameras between the dancers. The camera literally dances with them. Therefore, each crew member had to deal with the choreography. Everyone had to know exactly where the dancers would move so the camera could follow them and not be in their way.”
Derobe was supported by 3D Supervisor François Garnier, who also saw dance theatre in 3D as a special challenge: “We cannot stop a dancer in short sequences, one must shoot in much longer sequences. The challenge is to always stay close by with the camera, although the dancer moves. “ Despite the difficulties, Garnier is convinced of using 3D: “Because dance is by nature a movement in space, there is no better method than 3D technology to show dance. 3D has all the space, all the action, and all the movement to offer. The sense of physical sensation is much more powerful than any intellectual reflection. With 3D, cinema enters a new level.”
In the second stage of filming, the team recorded with “Kontakthof” another early piece by Pina Bausch, this time without an audience. The classic was filmed by Wim Wenders in the three different castings created by Pina Bausch: with the ensemble of the Wuppertal Tanztheater, with men and women aged between 65 and 80, and with teenagers from the age of 14 on. For the solos the dancers of the ensemble left the limited space of the stage and performed in public spaces, industrial landscapes, the sweeping countryside of the Bergisches Land and in the Wuppertal Suspension Line.
THE TANZTHEATER WUPPERTAL PINA BAUSCH
The beginning was controversial when Pina Bausch took over as head of the dance division at the Wuppertal Theatre for the 1973/74 season: the form she developed over the years, a mixture of dance and theatre, was too unusual. With her, the performers not only danced, they talked, sang, and sometimes cried or laughed as well. But this unconventional work prevailed. There was a revolution coming from Wuppertal, which emancipated and newly defined dance across the world. The Tanztheater rose to be in a league of its own, which influenced international choreographers and affected both theatre and classical ballet. The worldwide success was due to the fact that Pina Bausch made a universal need her core issue: the need for love, for closeness and security. For this she developed an open form of working that could hold the most diverse cultural influences in them. In constantly new poetic excursions, she examined what brings us closer to our need for love and what moves us away from it. It is a World Theatre that is not patronizing or knows better than the audience, but rather produces experiences: blissful or melancholy, gentle or confrontational, and at times funny and bizarre. These are vivid and moving images of internal landscapes that explore minutely the human condition while never giving up hope that the longing for love can be satisfied. Hope is a key to this work, as is its sense of realism. The pieces are all related to something all viewers know and can experience by themselves. In the 36 years that Pina Bausch has shaped her pieces at Wuppertal until her death in 2009, she has created a body of work that presents an incorruptible view of reality and also encourages people to live up to their own wishes and desires. Her unique ensemble, with its many strong personalities, will continue to maintain her standards in the future.
FOUR PIECES BY PINA BAUSCH FOR THE FILM PINA
LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS (premiered 1975)
“Le Sacre du printemps” is one of Pina Bausch’s most performed and most successful early pieces, which made her work known to a large audience, after “Iphigenia in Taurus” and “Orpheus and Eurydice”. The whole stage is filled ankle deep with peat, so that all the dancers’ movements leave traces and no light-footed actions are possible. Slowly it turns into an archaic arena in which the genders fight each other. A woman will eventually be sacrificed in a ritual. The rhythmic music by Igor Stravinsky increases the violent group dynamic, and gradually extinguishes all individual reactions.
KONTAKTHOF (premiered 1978 / 2000 / 2008)
“Kontakthof” could in many respects be regarded as the sum of Pina Bausch’s work. It takes place at a single location, a large dance hall or a theatre. The high room is completely empty, to the front it is open to the public, open like a peep show, and the other three sides are equipped with long rows of chairs. Men and women are sitting lined up against the walls. Slowly they move to all sorts of encounters, some moving cautiously, others wild and impetuously. Sometimes there is a single pair on the dance floor, sometimes the entire cast of 30 dancers. Pina Bausch created this piece with her ensemble in 1978, then years later, in 2000, rehearsed and newly performed it again, but this time not with her regular dance troupe, but with non-professional dancers, amateurs, who do not normally appear in this context: namely with seniors aged 65 and over. This was (and is) a sensation, because it completely questions and alters our view of old people and of age. “Kontakthof” played and danced by old people, triggers a totally different perception of beauty, grace, mortality, aging, compassion and yes, emotion and passion. Eight years later in 2008, the “Kontakthof” experience was expanded by a further layer, when young people rehearsed the piece, teenagers aged between 14 and 18. This added another new view. The same gestures and movements contributed again another meaning. Suddenly one is faced as a spectator with ones own experience, even more, with ones own vision of self, ones life, dreams, fears, projections.
CAFÉ MÜLLER (premiered 1978)
“Café Müller” is an almost minimalist piece, performed by six dancers / performers. The stage shows a bare gray place that is filled only by dozens of coffee tables and chairs. The actors and dancers are trying to find each other. But through the cluttered room, their movements are slow and generally limited. They act like sleepwalkers, with closed eyes in a trance, and they remain strangers, blind to each other. Only one man, open-eyed, tries to help others to find one another, and frenetically opens passages through the forest of chairs for them by swirling furniture to the side. To the melancholy music by Henry Purcell “Café Müller” tells of loneliness and longing, in the atmosphere of a dream world.
VOLLMOND (premiered 2006)
“Vollmond” shows Pina Bausch’s art in full bloom. An exuberant music determines the piece, just as the magnificent scenery of Pina’s longtime close collaborator Peter Pabst. A large rock dominates the scene and a moat separates the stage like a river. Twelve dancers play in the silver landscape, and are exposed to the rain and the storm, and search feverishly for love. Even here a fight (or war) of the sexes is the center of all relationships. As in all new works by Pina Bausch, sometimes it leads to light and humorous situations, often, to fear and terror. As playful as the piece begins, so wild and unrestrained it will end as the twelve dancers romp to total exhaustion.
PINA BAUSCH – ABOUT HER WORK
“Those questions are there to very carefully approach a subject. This is a very open way of working, and yet quite accurate. I always know exactly what I am looking for, but I know it emotionally and not with my head. Therefore, one can never really ask directly. That would be too blunt, and the answers would be too banal. I have to leave it alone, what I’m looking for, at least with words, but I must reveal it and make it appear with a lot of patience. When a small moment is found, then I know that it belongs to what I was looking for. I am happy then, but I’m not talking about it. The dancers do not know what I’m looking for or what I find special or precious. This belongs to the mutual trust we need in this work. Everyone must have the freedom, without inhibitions, to show everything. If you keep something inside you, your thoughts revolve more and more around it, and you will not get rid of it. However, if you let it out, then other things can surface.”
“Every detail is important, every change, because each shift creates a different effect. All that we find during rehearsal is looked at and examined very carefully to see if it can hold water even under the most difficult conditions. I allow nothing in which I cannot believe, which does not convince me. At the end, of the many questions only very few things remain that constitute a piece. Everything is scrutinized again and again and reconsidered. Every detail undergoes a variety of transformations, until it has found its right place at the end. It takes a long time every time, until something is underway. Even overlooking just a little thing might take the work a step in the wrong direction, and it is very hard to correct. Therefore you need a high degree of accuracy and honesty in this work and a lot of courage. We show something personal, but it is not private. It reveals a piece of what we all have in common. To find that requires great patience and a willingness to look over and over again.”
FINDING SOMETHING THAT NEEDS NO QUESTION
“I’ve never intended to invent a particular style or a new kind of theatre. The form emerged quite by itself: from the questions I had. In my work I’ve always looked for something I did not yet know. This is a permanent, also a painful search, a struggle. When searching, you cannot rely on anything: no tradition and no routine. There is nothing that you can hold on to. You stand alone facing life and the experiences that you make, and you have to try all on your own to make visible what you have always known, or at least give a clue or foreshadow it. It’s about finding something that does not need any question. “
From: The 2007 Kyoto Prize Workshop in Arts and Philosophy, “Finding something that needs no question” by Pina Bausch
PINA BAUSCH – DANCER, CHOREOGRAPHER
Born as Philippine Bausch in 1940 in Solingen; under her nickname Pina she will later achieve international reputation with her Tanztheater based in nearby Wuppertal. Her parents run an inn as part of a hotel in Solingen, where Pina, like her siblings, lent a hand. She learns to observe people; above all, what moves people deep down. In her later work small pieces of this early childhood environment seem to resound: the sound of music, people coming and going, telling of their longing for happiness. But also the early experience of war is reflected in the pieces, as sudden outbursts of panic and fear of an anonymous threat.
Following first experiences at Solingen’s children’s ballet, at the age of 14 Pina Bausch started her dance training at the Folkwang Hochschule under Kurt Jooss. Before and after the Second World War, Jooss was a distinguished representative of the German modern dance movement, which had freed itself from the shackles of classical ballet. In his teaching, however, he reconciled the free spirit of dance revolutionaries with the principles of ballet. This is how the young dance student learned creative freedom as well as reaching proficiency in a clear form. Also important was the proximity to other arts, which are also taught at the Folkwang Hochschule: opera, music, drama, sculpture, painting, photography, design, and more. This wholly open approach will influence the choice of methods in her work as choreographer.
In 1958 she was awarded the Folkwang-Price and armed with a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service, she leaves for one year as a special student at the Juilliard School of Music to New York. The city is a Mecca of dance, where classical ballet is being reinvented by the likes of George Balanchine, as well as the development of modern dance. Pina Bausch’s teachers include Antony Tudor, José Limón, and dancers of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Alfredo Corvino, and Margaret Craske. As a dancer she worked with Paul Taylor, Paul Sanasardo and Donya Feuer. Whenever possible she visits shows, absorbing all the trends. Enthused by the variety of artistic life in New York she extends her stay by another year; this time however she has to pay for her upkeep herself. Antony Tudor engages her at the Metropolitan Opera. The proximity to the opera and the respect for musical tradition will play a part in her later work as will her love for jazz. The strict distinction between so-called “serious” and “entertaining” music in Germany will play no part for her. All music, as long as it invokes deep feelings, has the same value.
After two years Kurt Jooss asks her return back to Essen. He has succeeded in reviving the Folkwang Ballet, later known as the Folkwang Dance Studio. Pina Bausch dances older and new works by Jooss, and assists him with choreography. In the absence of sufficient works for the Folkwang Dance Studio, she begins to choreograph herself, developing pieces such as “Fragment “ or “Im Wind der Zeit” for which she receives the first prize at the Choreographic Competition in Cologne in 1969. As a guest, she choreographs first works for Wuppertal, which are performed by members of the Folkwang Dance Studio: “Aktionen für Tänzer” in 1971 and “ Tannhäuser-Bacchanal “ in 1972. For the 1973/74 season she is hired by the Wuppertal Director Arno Wüstenhöfer as head of the Wuppertal Ballet, which she quickly renames the Tanztheater. The name, developed back in the 1920s by Rudolf von Laban, is a statement. It stands for a disengagement from mere dance routine and a complete freedom in the choice and means of expression.
In quick succession Pina develops new genres. With the two Gluck operas, “Iphigenia in Tauris” (1974) and “Orpheus and Eurydice” (1975) she develops the first two dance operas. In “Ich bring dich um die Ecke … “ (1974), she enters the trivial world of pop music, “Come dance with me” uses old folk songs, “Renate emigrates”(both 1977) plays with clichés of the operetta. Her choreography of Igor Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps“(1975) was to become her milestone. The physical immediacy and emotional impact of this piece are to mark her work. From Kurt Jooss, she has learned “honesty and accuracy”. The choreographer understands how to take advantage of both virtues for a dramatic energy, which was unknown until then. During the first years in Wuppertal this leads to upsetting the press and public. The confrontation with the true motives behind movement hurts. The sadness and loneliness in “Bluebeard – When listening to a tape recording of Bela Bartok’s opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle ‘” (1977), in which passages of music are repeated again and again, which many feel as torture. But from the beginning, Pina Bausch displays next to her talent for drama also humor, as in the Brecht / Weill double-bill “The Seven Deadly Sins” and “Do not be afraid” from 1976. In the second part, collaged freely together and showing men in women’s clothes as the choreographer plays with entrenched stereotypes, is both entertaining and amusing.
In 1978 Pina Bausch changed the way she worked. Invited by director Peter Zadek in Bochum to develop her version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the choreographer finds herself caught out. A large proportion of her own ensemble no longer want to continue with her work, as there is little conventional dancing involved in it. So she casts the Bochum production with only four dancers, five actors and a singer. As she is unable to use choreographed steps with this cast, she begins to ask her performers associative questions on the subject of the piece. When the result of this joint search is premiered on 22 April 1978 in Bochum, under the long title “He takes her by the hand and leads her into the castle, followed by the others”, it is almost drowned under the storm of protest from the audience. However, in using this unusual move, Pina Bausch has finally found a shape for her work, with its dreamlike, poetic images and language of movement being the reason for the rapid onset of global success. Starting with the basic human emotions, with the fears and needs as well as the wishes and desires, the Wuppertal Tanztheater not only is understood worldwide, but also triggers an international choreographic revolution. The secret of this success may be that the Tanztheater of Pina Bausch risks a fresh look at reality and at the same time for daydreaming. It takes the audience in their everyday life seriously and equally encourages their hope that everything will turn out well. For their part they are called upon to take responsibility themselves. All the men and women in Pina Bausch’s pieces can do is test with utmost accuracy and honesty what brings each closer to happiness and what pushes them away from it; patented remedies are not provided. But they always send home their audiences in the knowledge that – with all its ups and downs – life can be survived.
In January 1980, Pina Bausch’s longtime life partner Rolf Borzik died. In the early years his stage designs and costumes significantly influenced the appearance of the Tanztheater. Following his death, Peter Pabst (stage) and Marion Cito (costumes) took over his work. The created spaces are poetic, often moving the outside inside and the stage expanded into a landscape. These are physical spaces, which are changing movements. Water and rain let the bodies shine through the clothes; soil turns every movement into a Herculean task, leaves trace the steps of the dancers. The variation of the spaces ranges from period rooms to the bare wooden floorboards of Japanese minimalism. The costumes can be as elegant as they are bizarre – from a great evening gown to the child’s delight in disguise. Just like the pieces, the stage and costumes reflect everyday life and beyond, but always in the direction of a wonderful beauty and ease. What in infancy is often overlooked: the humor and beauty, even if it lies in the seemingly ugly, is understood better the passing of the years. Gradually what it is about the Tanztheater it becomes clear: not a provocation but in Pina Bausch’s words – “a space where we can meet each other.”
The international development of the Tanztheater resulted in numerous co-productions: “Viktor”, “Palermo Palermo” and “O Dido” in cooperation with Italy, “Dance Evening II (Tanzabend II)” in Madrid, “A tragedy (Ein Trauerspiel)” in Vienna, “Only You (Nur Du)” in Los Angeles, “The Window Cleaner (Der Fensterputzer)” in Hong Kong, “Masurca Fogo” in Lisbon, “Meadows (Wiesenland)” in Budapest, “Água” in Brazil, “Nefés in Istanbul,” Ten Chi” in Tokyo,” Rough Cut” in Seoul,” Bamboo Blues “ in India, and lastly a new piece 2009, a co-production with Chile, for which Pina Bausch will no longer be able to give a title. The work, which at first was so controversial, has finally developed into a world theatre, which can hold all the cultural colors and treats everyone with the same respect. It is not a theatre that wants to teach, but one that wants to create a fundamental experience of life that every viewer is invited to share with the dancers. This world theatre is generous, relaxed in its perception of the world, and very charming to its audience. It offers to make peace with life and trusts in its own courage and own strength. As a mediator between cultures, it is an ambassador of peace and mutual understanding. It is a theatre that keeps itself free of any ideology and dogma, which looks at the world as prejudice-free as possible and takes note of life – in all its facets. From the discoveries of that journey, which begins anew with each piece, from the many small scenes and – more and more with each passing year – a world of great complexity, full of surprising twists adds itself to the dances. The Tanztheater Wuppertal feels obliged to only one principle: the people and thus a humanism that knows no boundaries.
For her work Pina Bausch receives numerous awards and honours, including the Bessie Award in New York (1984), the German Dance Award (1995), the Berlin Theatre Award (1997), the Praemium Imperiale in Japan (1999), the Nijinsky Award in Monte Carlo, the Golden Mask in Moscow (2005), the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt / Main (2008). In June 2007, she is presented with a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for her life’s work, and in November of same year the prestigious Kyoto Prize. The German Government honors her with the Great Cross of Merit (1997), the French with the title Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et de Lettres (1991) and Knight of the Legion of Honour (2003). Many universities give her an honorary doctorate.
On 30 June 2009 Pina Bausch’s life journey ends. Her work shows her as one of the most important choreographers of the 20th Century.
INTERVIEW WITH WIM WENDERS
You experienced the worst that can happen to a film, the death of the main character. Didn’t the death of Pina Bausch also mean the death of this film project?
Pina was more than the “main character”. She was the reason itself to make this film. We were in the middle of preparations, immediately before the first 3D test shoot with the ensemble in Wuppertal, when we received the news of Pina’s abrupt death. Yes, of course, we immediately stopped everything. It seemed pointless to make the movie. After all, Pina and I had dreamed of this project together for twenty years! Originally a spontaneous suggestion from me to Pina in the mid-eighties to make a film together, it gradually became a kind of “running gag” between us. Pina would ask: “What about doing it now, Wim?” and I would answer: “I still do not know how, Pina! “I just had no idea how to film dance – even after studying all sorts of dance films. The Tanztheater of Pina Bausch has such freedom and joy energy, such physicality, and is so full of life, I really did not know how to film it appropriately – until one day I caught the first glimpse of the new digital 3D, in 2007. That’s when I called Pina, still from the cinema: “Now I know how, Pina.” I didn’t have to say more, she understood.
And you started immediately?
It took a little bit longer. At closer inspection, the technology was not ready. It was good enough for animation and blockbuster movies, but to render movements naturally we had to wait. We then started to plan the movie two years ago, and prepared the shoot for the fall of 2009 – the first moment, really, our project was technically possible. Well, and then Pina was suddenly gone. I immediately pulled the plug and stopped the preparations. After all, the film was completely written for and with Pina. We wanted to watch her in rehearsals, accompany her on tour with her ensemble, and Pina would have introduced as herself to her kingdom …
Only weeks later it dawned on us: the pieces that Pina and I had put together on the programme of her theatre so that they could be filmed, were about to be rehearsed by the dancers, and it was they who were saying: “In the coming months we will perform all the pieces you both wanted to record so much. You cannot leave us alone. You have to film this! Now more than ever!” And they were absolutely right! Right now Pina’s look was still on everything! We therefore took up the project again with the aim that in October we could at least record “Café Müller”, “Le Sacre du Printemps” and “Vollmond” in 3D. We were not able to achieve any more at that moment. After all, the whole concept had to be radically changed. From a joint film, which we had planned to co-direct, we now had to switch to something entirely different. Only on the second and third shoot in April and June 2010, we were finally able to bring the film to an end.
Was there already material with Pina Bausch?
No, we never shot anything together. She died on 30 June; we had agreed to meet with our 3D team in Wuppertal two days later for the first test shoot with her dancers, so that Pina could see something in 3D. Pina never saw anything. Well, she did not just want to see anything in 3D, she wanted to see her own dancers. Then she would understand it better, she said. And I never got the chance myself to have her in front of the camera. My wife Donata took pictures of her, that’s all. But Pina is still in the movie. There are new possibilities to include documentary material and two-dimensional images into a 3D project.
How developed is the technology?
During the first tests it showed that the technology was not as developed as we had hoped. As Pina was no longer there, I felt even more obliged that this three-dimensional image really looked as fantastic as I had promised her. A natural reproduction and perception of space was necessary, just as if we as spectators stand before the stage, or better: right on it.
This sounds easier than it probably was.
The first test images were frightening. We quickly realised that all errors in 2D multiply in 3D and raise the power of two. If, for example, you pan the camera with the dancers on stage, it quickly happens that the image suffers a strobe-like effect and is unnaturally jerky. In 2D, we know how to avoid it: we have to pan slower. In 3D, it did not seem to be preventable at all. Any quick movement of the arm of a dancer produced the impression that for a fraction of a second you would look at two, three or four arms. Film also does not render every movement on the screen fluently – only that by now we have got used to it so we no longer notice it. But in 3D, any visual mistake was suddenly huge and all over the place.
You could shoot at a higher frame rate…
Correct, you’d have to shoot 50 frames per second instead of the usual 24. We tried this, and the result was sensational, beautiful. But immediately there was a setback: we could indeed shoot this way, but we could not play it in the cinemas, because the only standard for 3D around the world is 24 frames. We struggled with the Institute in America, which is responsible for this standard, and soon became aware that we walked in the footsteps of James Cameron. He also desperately tried to convince them that Avatar would be look better when shot with 50 or 60 frames. But they did not let him.
Could you learn from AVATAR?
I watched it repeatedly and quickly noticed that although the computer-animated avatars moved beautifully and gracefully – like I wanted our dancers to move – but as for the real people running around in AVATAR, just look at the background, – you can hardly sit and watch them. All the mistakes we had noticed in our own test were there to be seen as well. Somebody hardly moves, and immediately three or four arms or legs can be seen. Movements are simply not round and smooth. You don’t notice this too much, because most of it is computer-generated and works well, and Cameron cuts very fast. In short, they had the same problem as we did, but they could cover it up better. However, we wanted and had to shoot 100% real life, we had no computer images to help us. Our dancers had to move elegantly and fluently! We had to first find out how to outwit the technology, so that movements looked natural again.
What is the solution to the problem?
In principle one has to remember the cinema. The digital cameras make a lot of very sharp individual frames. They provide a very precise reproduction, so that the blurriness of the image, which we have so wonderfully become accustomed to on film, does not exist any more. This can be artificially re-produced by motion blur, or you shoot with a different shutter.
We avoided lens changes and basically shot the film on 2 focal lengths, but both of them quite wide, so they would both very much have the angle of our natural vision. Overall, we tried to follow as much as possible the physiology of human eyes.
3D is developing fast. In October 2009, we still shot with a massive crane that looked like a dinosaur standing in the middle of the theatre and filling half the auditorium, a “Techno Crane”, which can penetrate far into the stage and high up and can carry the weight of the camera-rig with the mirror…
… two cameras, that stand close together like two eyes, and thus imitate the effect of spatial vision…
In theory yes. The technology is not yet so developed that one could shoot on one camera with two lenses, so you need two cameras. These cannot stand next to each other, because their housing and especially the huge lenses do not allow for the average distance of six centimeters between both eyes. So they must be put on top of one another and connected by a semi-transparent mirror. But this swallows plenty of light. The whole thing is a huge apparatus, operated by many motors.
The exact opposite to the light-footed dancer…
A remote-controlled monster, requiring five people to operate all functions. Nevertheless, we could move this thing quite smoothly. But just five months later,
during our second shoot in April, we shot almost exclusively with a prototype of a Steadycam. The camera has to move in 3D, that’s essential. If it remains static, a large part of the spatial effect is wasted. You do not need to perform huge back and forth movements. Just slow tracking shots pay off wonderfully, because they move the whole room and make it the space more perceptible.
You stand for the third time at the forefront of technical development. First with HAMMETT, where you tried out Coppola’s electronic studio, then with BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, your first high-resolution digital film. Is the current technological leap the most radical?
Oh yes! BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB was the first completely digital documentary that went into the cinemas, but for me both aesthetically and from a working method it did not produce a radical upheaval – only that the film would simply just not have been possible on film. 16 – or 35-mm cameras still make so much noise, that you could not record acoustic music in any recording studio in the world. The digital cameras have also allowed us to really shoot around the clock, and when we stopped once in a while the musicians were very disappointed: “What is happening, don’t you love us any more?” Technology has given us wings, but it was not fundamentally a different way of working.
That’s why working with 3D today is a huge leap forward.
I was enthused from the first frame on that we produced. One could say that this technique started on the wrong foot. At the moment we only know animation or computer-generated extravaganzas in 3D. Films that were shot in front of real scenery still hardly exist. I believe the future of this technology does not necessarily lie where it is being used at the moment, in fantasy films. It was the same in the beginning of digital technology: it was used in advertising, at first it was costly, and was used for special effects on expensive American films, who could afford it. At that time no one would have thought that digital cinema would ultimately save and re-invent documentary filmmaking. I think it will be similar for 3D technology. Once it has established itself with smaller and lighter cameras – which is only a matter of time – it will create a whole new approach for reality-driven films.
Questions and answers from a panel discussion with Wim Wenders, 29 June 2010 at the Media Forum Film – International Film Conference NRW, entitled: “Technology versus Content – 3D as a new opportunity, “ moderated by Hanns-Georg Rodek
WIM WENDERS – WRITER, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER
Wim Wenders ranks among the important directors of world cinema and is one of the leading representatives of “ New German Film.” Undeterred by fleeting trends and big studio offers he has stuck to his guns and kept his eagerness to experiment.
Born in Düsseldorf on 14 August 1945, he started taking photographs at the age of 7, owned his own darkroom at 12 and at 17 his first Leica. He studied medicine and philosophy before settling in 1966 as a painter and engraver in Montparnasse, Paris. In his spare time, he watched all the movies that were showing at the Cinémathèque, including many German classics. He laid the foundation for his career as a filmmaker in 1967, when he enrolled at the newly founded “Academy of Film and Television” in Munich. In the late 60s he made several short films, which were influenced by the so-called “New American Underground” in the style of Warhol: long scenes, uneventful and with an open narrative. His feature film debut was in 1970 with his graduation film, the black and white film SUMMER IN THE CITY.
Wim Wenders was one of the 15 directors and writers who in 1971 founded the Film Verlag der Autoren to handle production, rights and distribution of their films, both together and independently. His professional career as a director began that year with the film adaptation of Peter Handke’s novel THE GOALKEEPER’S FEAR OF THE PENALTY for which he was awarded the Prize of the International Film Critics in Venice.
In ALICE IN THE CITIES (1973), THE WRONG MOVE (1974) and KINGS OF THE ROAD (1975) Wim Wenders turns to characters who have to deal with their lack of roots in post-war Germany and is awarded several German and international film prizes. These three films, as well as the thriller THE AMERICAN FRIEND (1977, by Patricia Highsmith) with Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz in the lead roles, grappled with the rapid change of his own country. Wim Wenders ‘extraordinary love for the cinema and rock n ‘ roll, coupled with the affectionate curiosity of the observer to the world that surrounds us, runs to this day through the entirety of his work.
THE AMERICAN FRIEND makes him known in the U.S., resulting in his next project with Francis Ford Coppola who in 1978 invited Wenders to the U.S. He started to work on HAMMETT for Zoetrope Studios. The movie was meant to be a tribute to the American crime writer Dashiell Hammett, but the lengthy artistic disputes meant that the film was not finished until 1982. The conflicts that Wim Wenders had to endure during the difficult production process, he worked out in STATE OF THINGS (1982), a somber reflection on filmmaking. For this film Wenders receives the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival.
Together with Sam Shepard he discovered his next story in the Texas desert: a speechless man, apparently without memory, searches for a link to his past. With the road movie PARIS, TEXAS (with Nastassja Kinski and Harry Dean Stanton), the director won, amongst others, the 1984 Golden Palm at Cannes and the Best Director award of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
In the divided Berlin, in 1987, the angels of the city gave him the film WINGS OF DESIRE. The cinematic fairytale with Bruno Ganz as an angel, who for the love of a woman gives up his immortality, continues his previous worldwide success. In Cannes, he won the award for Best Director, as well as the European Film Award and the German Film Prize. In 1990 Wenders realizes his ambitious science fiction project, which had been in planning for 12 years: UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD. The film cost well over $ 20 million and was filmed around the world on four continents. But forced by distribution contracts, Wenders has to release the film in a shortened version. His own “Director’s Cut” will not be released for another 12 years.
With Bruno Ganz, Otto Sander, Peter Falk and other stars, in 1993 Wenders filmed in reunified Berlin the continuation of hisangel story: FARAWAY, SO CLOSE! This was followed by a second long stay in America, which began in 1996 with THE END OF VIOLENCE. In 2000 Wenders directed in Los Angeles a tragic-comic story by U2 singer Bono. With THE MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL Wenders created a story of friendship, betrayal and the overwhelming power of unconditional love. At the Berlinale he was honored with the Silver Bear.
Throughout his career Wenders shot a number of unconventional documentaries, including LIGHTNING OVER WATER (1980), a moving portrayal about and with Nicholas Ray, followed by TOKYO-GA (1985), a tribute to the Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu whose film “Tokyo Story” has had a lasting influence on Wenders, and NOTEBOOK ON CITIES AND CLOTHES (1989), an exploration of the work of the avant-garde fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. He also directed several music videos and the concert film WILLIE NELSON AT TEATRO (1998).
Without doubt, his best-known observation of music and musicians is the documentary BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB (1999). In this loving portrait Ry Cooder rediscovers Cuban musicians, among them Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzales and Company Segundo. The film even received an Oscar nomination. THE SOUL OF A MAN, a film about his blues heroes Blind Willie Johnson, JB Lenoir and Skip James, followed. In 2002 Wenders made a film about his friend Wolfgang Niedecken and his Cologne band ODE TO COLOGNE – A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL FILM. The long-standing friendship with the Düsseldorf band “Die Toten Hosen” eventually leads to the feature film PALERMO SHOOTING, with Campino and Dennis Hopper in the lead roles. In 2008 he is with this film in competition for the ninth time at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1987 he published his first book, “Written in the West”, with photographs from the American West. To date, numerous other books followed, including essays, photo books and accompanying publications for his films and exhibitions, including the book “Pictures from the Surface of the Earth”. Museums and galleries around the world have shown his photographs in solo exhibitions.
In the 1990s Wim Wenders became first chairman and later president of the European Film Academy. Since 2003 he teaches as a professor at the College of Fine Arts in Hamburg. He received honorary doctorates from the Faculté des Arts et des Lettres of Sorbonne, Paris; the theological faculty of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland; the Université Catholique de Louvain in France; and the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Catania. In 2006, Wenders was the first filmmaker of the Order “Pour le Mérite”. He lives with his wife, photographer Donata Wenders, in Berlin and has his own production company “Neue Road Movies.”