‘Pina’ dances on the cutting edge

by Isabella Place

There are many who wish they could take their sweethearts to the opera, ballet or an equally elegant performance this Valentine’s Day, but find it a tad pricey for their student budget. Luckily, there is a solution: “Pina.”

This musical documentary, presented in 3-D at select theaters, is the ideal film for Valentine’s Day. Skeptics shouldn’t let the words “documentary” and “musical” drive them away. Though “Pina” is a subtitled foreign film, the speaking parts are minimal because this film was intended to be perceived as a gourmet eye-candy experience and a lush on-screen production. Not only would any dance major or dance enthusiast be excited to see “Pina,” the film is quite a crowd pleaser for all audiences or attention spans.

The documentary is focused on German-born Pina Bausch, one of the most noteworthy choreographers in the history of dance. Each scene is a testament to that idea. Selecting a single memorable scene would be a difficult task; “Pina” has several remarkable moments. One in particular, regardless of the audience’s stance on veal, will have moviegoers gawking at the way a piece of meat is ever so delicately incorporated into one of the most uniquely bold and beautiful ballet solo numbers ever portrayed. If surreal paintings could come to life, they would undoubtedly ask to be choreographed by Bausch.

Beyond the amazing dance numbers, “Pina” is all about taking risks the uninitiated may have never seen or imagined in the world of dance. Bausch’s work pushes boundaries and breaks rules. The introduction features a stage covered in dirt, and is such a wonderful introduction it causes viewers to marvel at the abilities presented therein. Such scenes are brilliantly orchestrated in ways that illustrate Bausch’s determination and the fact that nothing ever stood in her way. Her personality exudes from each of the dance performances without the filmmakers ever displaying a literal biography of her or her work. As a tribute, the performers channel her spirit so passionately it is difficult to believe this dance icon is no longer living.

For a Valentine’s Day date, “Pina” will certainly give “dinner and a movie” a whole new meaning. Add the stereotypical bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates and couples might just have themselves an evening as triumphant as the documentary.