Dance in 3D

Maybe I'm a snob, but I always saw 3D movies as a gimmicky fad that should never have left the '80s. Dance films in 3D seemed especially specious. Do you really want Giselle jumping out of the screen at you?

 

I think my answer might be "Yes." Last night I saw a screening of PINA, Wim Wender's tribute to the late post-modern choreographer Pina Bausch. It's a documentary filmed in 3D that includes interviews with Bausch's dancers intercut with site-specific bits and performance excerpts. It was some of the most visceral dance footage I'd ever seen. Or rather, experienced. When the camera is onstage right alongside the dancers in 3D, it feels so real; you're no longer simply a voyeur sitting in a dark movie theater watching a screen, but you're right there on set, moving with, then moving through the dancers. It feels similar to breaking the fourth wall—but without the accompanying self-conscious awkwardness.

 

Most impressively, the 3D effect diminishes that static feeling that usually sucks the life out of dance on film. Because the dancers' movement is so immediate, it doesn't seem as canned as it usually does. The 3D technology isn't quite perfect yet—when the dancers move quickly, their limbs sometimes blur. But 3D translates dance onto film in a way that retains more of its magic. Lesson learned: Don't knock it till you try it.

 

P.S. Pina Bausch was brilliant.