Dance Scene and Trends in Germany

A “Future Workshop” for the Tanztheater Wuppertal

“On the Mountain a Cry was heard” by Pina Bausch, dancer: ensemble, April 2002; © Ursula KaufmannPina Bausch (1940–2009) choreographed 46 pieces for the Tanztheater Wuppertal. To preserve them an archive is being compiled in Wuppertal for 1.4 million euros. The archive, which should be completed by mid-2013, is the remit of the Pina Bausch Foundation.

Salomon Bausch, son of Pina Bausch and founder of the foundation, calls the archive a “future workshop”. It should be a place where “the materials are accessible so that one can research them, work with them and develop something new.” Bausch recalls that “creating and using an archive was an integral part of my mother’s work from the very beginning. Working with some of the dancers and collaborators, she started several years ago systematically making the growing stock accessible, especially the thousands of video recordings. She specified precisely what belonged in the archive and the kind of structure it should have.” Thus it was a given that the Pina Bausch Foundation should continue the work on the archive. Financial subsidies have been granted by the Federal Cultural Foundation, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and a private foundation.

“Traces of a past event”

“The Rite of Spring” by Pina Bausch, with: Ruth Amarante, Andrey Beretzin, January 2006; © Ursula KaufmannMarc Wagenbach, archivist with many years of experience, describes the stocks as “traces of a past event on stage, documentations of a performance.” Videos and personal memories of the artists have always been part of the work involved in the authentic revival of earlier pieces or in re-castings – in which meanwhile three generations are collaborating. Unlike Martha Graham, for example, Pina Bausch was never monopolistic. With great sensitivity she gradually established the principle of alternative casting. Thus Helena Pikon alternated with her in dancing the sleepwalker in Café Müller. Andrey Berezin took over the role of the wise man in The Rite of Spring from Lutz Förster, Pablo Aran Gimeno the part of Dominique Mercy in Agua. Bausch rehearsed Orpheus and Eurydike with the ballet of the Paris Opera. Since the end of 2010 The Rite of Spring has also been included in the repertoire of the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris. Former dancers staged Kontakthof with senior citizens and with teenagers.

“Kontakthof” by Pina Bausch, February 2000; © Ursula KaufmannAfter the sudden death of Pina Bausch, Dominique Mercy, Bausch-dancer since 1973, was appointed artistic director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch GmbH together with Robert Sturm, Bausch’s personal assistant. They are both members of the Foundation’s Advisory Board. Throughout the world interest is still as fervent as ever. 26,000 spectators applauded the company at its latest guest performance in London. As the centrepiece of the cultural programme of the Olympic summer games 2012 World Cities ”, the company presented 10 of the co-productions with metropolises and regions all over the world within 30 days. It was the last and biggest project that Bausch had initiated.

New productions, revivals – and “something completely new”

“Rough Cut” by Pina Bausch, with: Cristiana Morganti (February 2007); © Ursula KaufmannEach season the ensemble in Wuppertal presents at least one piece that has not been part of its active repertoire for several years. Last year it was Two Cigarettes in the Dark from 1985. This season the Korea piece Rough Cut from 2005 will be restaged. Moreover, at the end of April 2013 On the Mountain a Cry was heard from 1984 is to be performed again in Wuppertal for the first time since the Japan tour in 1993. Mercy emphasises that “Wuppertal was, is and always will be our home. We all live here. Otherwise our everyday rehearsal schedule just wouldn’t work.”

“Two Cigarettes in the Dark” by  Pina Bausch, with: Mechthild Großmann (May 2011); © Ursula KaufmannAt present concrete planning extends up to 2015. The company shows seven pieces per season in short blocks of three to four performances respectively in the Opernhaus Wuppertal. “Hosts and friends all over the world have remained loyal to us and are still inviting us,” says Mercy. Thus in their 39th season the company is giving guest performances between New York and Peking. For the very first time they will be appearing in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. The occasion is the centenary of the première of Le Sacre du Printemps. Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring is regarded as one of the most impressive interpretations of the Russian fairy tale set to the music of Igor Stravinsky.

But sceptics are not satisfied. They fear a “purely museum-like administration of Pina Bausch’s heritage” and see a future for the Tanztheater only if the Company also produces its own pieces. This is planned for the season 2013/14, for the 40th anniversary.

Pina Bausch Archive and the consequences

“Masurca Fogo” by Pina Bausch, with: Fernando Suels Mendoza, Julie Shanahan, April 1998; © Ursula KaufmannDance professionals all over the world are expecting to find inspiration for their own work from the opening of the Pina Bausch Archive. Traces of the Folkwang tradition are clearly visible in Germany despite the overall precarious situation of dance. Along with the Folkwang-Tanzstudio in Essen, Bremen, Kassel and Bielefeld also cultivate technique and tradition. In Bremen Reinhild Hoffmann’s Callas was recently performed again, 30 years after its première. As the successor to Urs Dietrich, Samir Akika has just begun his engagement there with his team “Unusual Symptoms”. In Kassel Johannes Wieland, Folkwang graduate with many years of experience in New York, is producing very original dance theatre work. In Bielefeld the Swiss choreographer Gregor Zöllig follows in Pina Bausch’s footsteps by always developing his choreographies together with his dancers. And three former directors of the Folkwang-Tanzstudio recently gave guest performances in his theatre with their own choreographies: Reinhild Hoffmann, Susanne Linke and Henrietta Horn.

Marieluise Jeitschko
works as a freelance writer, and as a dance and music theatre critic.
Photo: Ursula Kaufmann

Translation: Heather Moers
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
November 2012

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