Pina Bausch

Pina Bausch

© LG Arts Center
© LG Arts Center
With her choreography Pina Bausch, born in Solingen in 1940, died in Wuppertal on 30 June 2009, has led dance out of its old forms and has coined a new term of dance theatre as the head of the Wuppertal Dance Theatre. From 1955-58 she completed her dance studies at the Folkwangschule in Essen under the direciton of Kurt Jooss. 1959-62 dance studies in the USA, including works with Paul Taylor and Antony Tudor. Upon the request of Kurt Jooss she returned to Germany in 1962 and became a dancer in the Folkwang-Ballett that he had just founded. Her first choreography for the Folkwang-Ballett followed in 1968: "Fragment". From 1969-73 she was artistic director, choreographer and dancer in the Folkwang Dance Studio (1971 "Aktionen für Tänzer", 1972 "Thannhäuser", "Bacchanals"). 1980 first cooperation with the set designer Peter Pabst. From 1983 artistic directorship of the Folkwang Dance Studio. From 1983-89 Pina Bausch directed the dance department at the Folkwang University in Essen. In 1973 Pina Bausch was appointed direction of the Ballett der Wuppertaler Bühnen [Ballet of the Wuppertal Stages], since renamed Tanztheater Wuppertal [Wuppertal Dance Theatre], a position she held until her death. Dominique Mercy and Robert Sturm, both very close colleagues of Pina Bausch, take over the artistic direction of the ensemble from now on.
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Portrait

© LG Arts Center
© LG Arts Center
That a new, different dancing quality beyond the routine was required in Wuppertal was announced even in the early pieces. …especially in "Frόhligsopfer" the choreography demands that the players abandon themselves right up to the physical limits. It is only this that gives the pieces an authenticity and dramatic power that is transmitted directly to the bodies of the audience. Pain, suffering, desperation are not merely implied or conveyed in a pretty gesture. They are unloaded with the force of extreme physical and emotional presence. This requires dancers who have no fear of themselves and who are prepared to reveal the elementary human drives in themselves and to portray this authentically on the stage. Gradually Pina Bausch changed her way of working. She started to ask her dancers questions: this was the start of broad-based research about the limits and possibilities of communication. Where do we touch ourselves and how do we distance ourselves from each other? Answers were sought for buzzwords, short sentences, ideas: this was no vague improvisation, much rather it required something more precise, a moment of honesty that is only brought into choreographic form when something is really touched. A voyage of discovery - a new one for each piece - starts with this, which believes that every body stores a plethora of behaviours, hopes and desires, fears and lusts, not least possible solutions. An ensemble knows more than a single choreographer can know. The method uses the knowledge stored in every body and brings it into the open. It gives every dancer the scope to discover and display his individual knowledge of the world. It bears witness to a deep respect for each individual who has a right to be there in his uniqueness and distinctiveness.

Norbert Servos:
Pina Bausch-Wuppertaler Tanztheater oder Die Kunst, einen Goldfisch zu dressieren [Pina Bausch - Wuppertal Dance Theatre or The Art of Training a Goldfish].
Seelze-Velber 1996, p. 286-287


Since the mid-1970s at the latest Pina Bausch has been faced with the question as to whether what she was doing was really dance - and not theatre: a misunderstanding that expanded her earlier statement that she is less interested in how people move than what moves them. In fact, the choreographer continuously diluted the dance in her pieces over almost two years. But she has never really given up dancing and in her recent pieces dance is once more strongly to the fore, maybe also because the dance passages have proved to be more resistant to time than the spoken parts in the regular repeat performances of her early and mid-career pieces. But ultimately, the question as to whether Pina Bausch's work as a whole and individual pieces of her total of over twenty full-evening pieces should be classified as dance or theatre is irrelevant because everything that her dancers do in her pieces - even the speaking - is incorporated in a great dancing rhythm. After all, Pina Bausch has only done what all great reformers in dance history have done. By crossing boundaries and pushing them she has given dance a new dimension: as an art not only of beauty (which is always present in her pieces), but above all of freedom, full of love, tenderness and humanity.

Jochen Schmidt:
Tanzgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts [The History of Dance in the 20th Century].
Berlin 2002, p.

    Works available for touring

    © LG Arts Center
    “...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si si …“
    (Dt. Wie das Moos auf dem Stein;) (2009)
    In Koproduktion mit Festival Internacional de Teatro Santiago a Mil und mit Unterstützung des Goethe-Instituts Chile.
    Sweet Mambo (2008)
    Bamboo Blues (2007)
    Vollmond (2006)
    Rough Cut (2005)
    Ten Chi (2004)
    Nefés (2003) in cooperation with the International Istanbul Theatre Festival and the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts
    Die Kinder von gestern heute und morgen (2002)
    Agua (2001)
    Masurca Fogo (1998)
    Der Fensterputzer (1997)
    Palermo Palermo (1989)
    Viktor (1986)
    Walzer Nelken (1982)
    Bandoneon (1980)
    Arien (1979)
    Café Müller Kontakthof (1978)
    Blaubart (1977)
    Fritz (1974)