Recently, while curating a Screen Dance component for The Music Center’s Grand Park, and their upcoming weeklong festival Our LA Voices (https://grandparkla.org/event/ourlavoices2019/), I became aware of the work of participating filmmaker Kevin Frilet. Exploring his bio, I was immediately excited to hear that he had worked on a collaboration with Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal and Prada. As a student of Bausch’s school Folkwang Hochschule, I knew her work, many of her dancers, as well as the woman herself long before the world awoke to her powerful and stunning work. If I had stayed on as invited, I can only imagine that I may have joined the company myself as did most of my classmates, who I would later visit backstage as they toured to NY, LA, and beyond. Nevertheless, being in the midst of Pina’s work at that time completely changed my world, upending notions of what dance should and could be, and completely redefining the adage and notion that “all the world is a stage.”
Frilet’s beautiful film Fallen features striking imagery with choreography and dance by ten of Tanztheater Wuppertal’s brilliant dancers. With fashion by Prada and a stunning location—what looks to be the facades and bowels of an old theater with amazing light and faded gilding—Fallen sets itself apart from traditional American fashion and dance collaborations.
What immediately catches my eye and reminds me of what I loved about Europe and Pina’s work in general, is that the dancers are not model-esque, but rather are all well upwards of thirty-plus-years-old. Their faces and their every gesture and movement reveal lives well lived and deeply felt, and belie traditional American notions of beauty or ideas that the best dancers are in their early twenties. The movement and set pieces are simple yet captivating, revealing the reach of Pina’s expansive influence on each dancer, even after her death. I cannot help but think it may have been slightly more humorous and less dramatic if she had been involved, but her presence is authentically and deeply felt nonetheless. I particularly love the close ups of dancers in the elevator.
Fallen was created for MOVEment, a project where fashion, dance and film unite. With gorgeously visceral dance and choreography by Clementine Deluy, Scott Jennings, Daphnis Kokkinos, Eddie Martinez, Fernando Suels Mendoza, Thusnelda Mercy, Julie Shanahan, Julie Anne Stanzak, Anna Wehsarg, and Paul White, beautiful cinematography by Nicolas Petris, striking styling by Agata Belcen and Nell Kalonji, and sensitive editing by Maxime Pozzi Garcia, Fallen is a treat for Pina fans everywhere.