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Language: German w/ English subtitles
Starring: Pina Bausch, some assistants, dozens of teenagers
Directors: Anne Linsel, Rainer Hoffman
Run time: 89 minutes
DVD distributor: First Run Features
Dancing Dreams, out November 16th from First Run Features, does two things. It pays tribute to a giant in the world of dance and choreography, Pina Bausch. It also shows teenagers with little or no experience in the world of theatre and dance blooming and flourishing through their experiences with the art world.
The documentary follows 40 teenagers who were selected to perform Contact Zone, a dance piece created by Bausch. Most of them didn’t know who she was, and most of them had never participated in anything like this before. Over the course of a year, they learned to dance, to act and to perform on stage. What’s most fascinating about the film is the growth we can see in the kids. We can follow them from their unsure, nervous first steps to their confident (but still nervous) debut performance a year later.
Pina Bausch herself appears very little in the film. Most of the training and rehearsals are overseen by two other dance pros, and Bausch shows up now and then to check on the progress and chain smoke cigarettes. I learned more about Bausch from the special features than I did from the documentary itself, but the documentary isn’t really about Bausch, it’s about the 40 kids coming into their own and mastering a complicated modern dance piece.
Pina Bausch died in 2009, shortly after the movie was completed. In a way, that makes Dancing Dreams something of an elegy to her life and work, but it wasn’t conceived that way. I will admit that before seeing this movie I knew nothing of Pina Bausch or her work, and now all I really know comes from the little “biography” special feature on this disc. If you want to learn all about Pina Bausch and her life and career, there are books, and wikipedia, and so on. Don’t watch this movie for her. Watch Dancing Dreams for the kids. It’s totally worth it.