Under the Eye of the Camera

March 25, 2012

Two dancers talk about dancing for the lens



A scene from Wim Wenders’ film
Pina. Photo by Donata Wenders, ©Neue Road Movies.



Lauren Cuthbertson
, principal, The Royal Ballet, on dancing MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet in the O2 Arena last June. Cameras brought the stage action to three huge screens above the dancers, and into people’s homes.

“MacMillan’s style is very expressive and very true, so it’s a good fit for the screen. But you have to be more subtle with what you do facially—more real. You can’t do anything too-too. The intensity can be there without exaggerating, as long as you and your partner are on the same wavelength.

“We tried not to speak onstage. But I always need to know when Juliet’s nurse mimes, ‘He’s a Montague.’ I mean, I’ve just met this boy and I’ve been dancing with him, so what’s the big deal? She says, ‘He’s a Montague,’ and my heart sinks. I have to react. So, even for this show, I told her, ‘Please whisper to me when you tell me that he’s a Montague.’ And she did.”

Julie Shanahan
, member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, on shooting the Wim Wenders 3-D film Pina.

“We were all very aware that Pina wasn’t there. There was a certain tristesse or grief, but we gave everything as if she were there. In the monologue section where Wim filmed us silently, he asked us to imagine Pina and our relationship to her. How would you greet her in the lens? Wim was very calm and gracious, taking time for each of us; he understood how much Pina meant to us. It was Wim’s idea to take the Nelken sequence everywhere—into the streets, the mountains, the woods. Sometimes our shoes got caught in the dirt, or a fly got on your face. It was very cold one evening and we were all smiling and continuing. In the amazing world of Pina, there was never a question to do it otherwise. Everyone did it with a joy or a lust or passion to try.”