Dancing Dreams tells the story of 40 German teenagers who take on Pina Bausch’s Kontakthof (Contact Zone) dance-theatre piece.
As the documentary delves further into each of the lead characters and their progress illuminates the screen, it’s easy to forget that these adolescents have no prior experience with dance, let alone stage work. Through the patience of Jo-Ann Endicott and BÃ©nÃ©dicte Billiet, both Bausch dancers themselves, a magic spark is triggered within each character, enveloping the viewer to embark on their journey alongside them.
Filmed in the year before Bausch’s death, her criticism may seem harsh at times. But it becomes clear that to her, the teens are as professional as anyone, and she criticizes every step while still relentlessly admiring their passion.
Directors Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffmann follow the group from their timid beginnings until their opening night performance where they glide across the stage as free as any experienced dancers. Generally adolescents are associated with rebellion and awkwardness, but with the guidance of nurturing mentors their ability to blossom is highlighted.
In the teens’ vignettes, their life beyond the stage comes alive as they speak of their first encounters with romance, death and the burgeoning lives they have lived thus far.
A poignant scene involves the lead dancer Jo, describing how her recently deceased father would have been tremendously proud of her. As tears stream down her face, the emotion she conjures up when dancing radiates the emotion much more intensely.
Along with the presence they summon on stage, the lingering effect is also heartening
to see. Each character reveals how their new dancing dreams have allowed them to
absorb the challenge and given them the reward of unfolding layers of themselves they did not
While this film may seem complementary to Bausch’s brilliant career, her vision
for these teenagers and the lasting note she leaves the viewer with is much more than that. At the end, one is left with the feeling that dedication, burning passion and the emotions of our lives are enough to make anyone dance.
Dancing Dreams opens at CinÃ©ma du Parc on Oct. 1. For more information, visit www.cinemaduparc.com.