tue 05/12/2023

DVD: Dancing Dreams | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Dancing Dreams

DVD: Dancing Dreams

Documentary on teenaged amateurs learning to dance Pina Bausch is sheer delight

This is the one DVD of all the recent issues of dance on film that will show you simply and honestly the rigour and the beguilement of how people are drawn to dance, and what dance draws out of them. A straight documentary about the dance-theatre of Pina Bausch, it's really about teenagers and their extraordinary ability to soak up opportunities, innocently perform complex things and wipe them clean of old associations - and make all us feel more human and restored.

The kids are one of the two amateur casts in the staging of Bausch’s dancework, Kontakthof - a portrait of goings-on in a village hall which was performed at the Barbican last year in both an elderly and a teenage version. The same moves were done by old and young: auditions, social dances, sexually charged encounters. With the older ones these events were anxiously redolent of German history, war, guilt, losing your teeth, ingrained habits, vengeful assaults on the opposite sex. With the youngsters, it was about their innocence, first moves into romance, spots, embarrassing missteps, hesitant assaults on the opposite sex.

The 90-minute film by Rainer Hoffmann and Anne Linsel follows the coaching of these youngsters through Saturday classes - one of them came because he liked the film Billy Elliot - and their knocking into shape by Bausch’s exacting but emotionally generous coaches.  It seems to define the concept of amateurism in the best way, touching places Wim Wenders’ artful, professional Pina 3D cannot.

Bausch herself appears, turning all of them into jelly as she selects the cast for the premiere. But you nod in wholehearted agreement when she tells the camera privately, wreathed in smiles, that she doesn’t care a rap if these kids make mistakes on opening night, because she loves them, and she loves that they made the attempt.

I haven’t seen as sweet, beguiling and genuinely enlightening a film about the pull of theatre as this one - nor indeed about the lovability and astounding absorbency of teenagers. It's utter delight, almost therapy, and it chases away preconceptions without mercy.

Watch the trailer for Dancing Dreams

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