Film review – Dancing Dreams

Dancing Dreams(NC)

Dirs: Anne Linsel & Rainer Hoffman 2009/Ger/Subt/89mins

In June 2009 the international dance community mourned the death of modern choreographer Pina Bausch. Her work combined dance with theatrical methods of performance using an investigation of reality as its basis.

Dancing Dreams (Tanztraume), set to hit British screens this Autumn, is an uplifting exploration of the process behind performing her innovative and challenging work.

In 2007, Pina Bausch decided to revisit her classic 1978 dance theatre piece Kontaktof—an intense study of love, intimacy and human relations—and re-stage it with teenagers aged 14 and above. Dancing Dreams follows a year of rehearsals with 40 teenagers from Wuppertal, an industrial town in Germany’s Ruhr area, where Bausch’s company reside.

With endless patience, warmth, and wit, rehearsal directors Jo-Ann Endicott and Benedicte Billiet (two long-time company members and part of the original Kontaktof cast) introduced the teenagers slowly into the intimate and intricate world of Pina Bausch.

Bearing all the hallmark of a Bausch piece, Kontakthof is essentially a performance about feelings; something that many teenagers have difficulty in expressing. Watching the teenagers make their first, clumsy attempts to transform the subjects of the dance performance into motion and choreography and to develop their own, individual body expression, we are struck by the difficulty experienced by dancers to turn a movement or gesture into something simple or natural.

Captured using fly-on-the-wall techniques, interspersed with candid interviews from the teenagers, we witness their own emotional and physical journey. As untrained dancers, many struggle with the need to let themselves go and soon are encouraged to control and master powerful emotions, that they have not experienced before.

Throughout the film, Bausch encourages the students to ‘be themselves’ and it is through their own movements, fears and emotions that their personal ‘dancing dreams’ become visible. From the inhibited early stages of rehearsal to the dazzling applause of opening night.
Dancing Dreams affirms how art and life can transform and influence each other and remains an inspiring testament to Bausch and her legacy.

Rodney Rhule.

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