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Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Recently I watched Pina at the Governor's School - one of many reasons I feel lucky to work there.

You need to see this film! It's a gorgeous look at the work of German choreographer Pina Bausch and her dancers from the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Director Wim Wenders spent 20 years developing his ideas with Pina, but she died tragically just before filming was scheduled to begin. Wenders went on to capture Pina's dancers discussing her influence on their lives with a haunting authenticity that's clearly tied to their recent loss. He explores the essence of Pina through their anecdotes, observations, and most importantly, their dancing. 

Pina's dancers all say essentially that she made them better. She made them more beautiful, more confident, and more talented. Most interesting to me was that she elicited this kind of response was by being, for the most part, silent. She made them great by quietly giving them permission to search until they found their own beauty. Pina gave her dancers questions rather than answers. One dancer recalled a time, after a terrible rehearsal, that her only comment to him was "Go on searching." 

Another dancer said that Pina taught him to stand for everything he did - every gesture, every step, every movement. She believed wholeheartedly in a person's need to be authentic and to dance - or maybe to live - with intention.

Pina choreographed using the elements - rocks, water, mountains, dirt. She allowed beauty to be there, and for her dancing to be over it, through it, beside it. She didn't force beauty into a box. 

I often wonder how to make the world around me better - how to be a good colleague, friend, or wife. Pina reminded me, again, to slow down. Not to force! She reminded me to listen more than I speak, and not to use twenty words when three will do. She reminded me that it's okay to be vulnerable and that beauty and sorrow are necessary to each other's existence. She believed that fragility is actually strength.

Pina gave everyone around her the inspiration, and the freedom, to be better. I can't think of a better gift.

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