By Katia Ostapets
On Feb.1, a private screening of the critically acclaimed documentary PINA was held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox building in the King West neighbourhood of downtown Toronto.
Organized by Turnout, a group of young professionals with a mandate to create an exciting and sustainable future for the National Ballet of Canada, the evening was undoubtedly going to melt even the most resolute of hearts and make them fall in love with dance.
To set the mood, the screening began with ORA, a short movie of modern dance shot in 3D as well as heat-sensitive thermo cameras. It was as if watching glowing Greek gods dancing in the vastness of an abyss: beautiful and haunting.
The feature film that followed was dedicated to the legendary artistry of German modern dancer and world-renowned choreographer Pina Bausch. In the 1970s, she became the artistic director of Wuppertal Opera Ballet, later renamed the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. The documentary was shot in 3D and seamlessly melted together the memories of Bausch narrated by her beloved dancers as well as excerpts of her most famous pieces, often danced in non-traditional settings like parks and even a street car. The popular Café Müller and Rite of Spring were among them.
After the screening, the viewers were left awestruck, barely daring to breath. From their comments, it appears that the film had touched everyone and many were deeply emotionally affected.
“It has some kind of a pull, some kind of magic to it,” said Cameron Bailey, the co-director of Toronto International Film Festival.
Karen Kain, the artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada and world-renowned dancer herself, was then available for questions.
She remarked that seeing Bausch’s work live was “a powerful experience.”
“She was an incredible artist and this film is such a tribute to her artistry and what she left us with,” said Kain. “She valued the line of the human body, but her work was about what people felt when they were doing it. She used their extreme physicality, but everything was motivated by emotion. That is why I find it so incredibly touching.”
Next, the guests were received at the second floor lounge of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, an intimate lounge and restaurant. Persecco flowed and bite-sized desserts were provided.
As part of the National Ballet of Canada’s 60-year anniversary celebration this year, the Ballet has commissioned 60 tutus to be made by a variety of designers and local groups. One was on display during the event and added to the ambiance of the space.
Jewelry designer Delane contributed to the commemoration by creating a piece called ‘8 Count – A Suspension of Time’, inspired by John Neumeier’s ballet rendition of Anton Chekhov’s classic play The Seagull. The necklace was made of Akoya pearls and a pear-shaped diamond suspended in an opposite facing frame. Everyone was encouraged to enter the draw to win the spectacular piece of art.