Pina Bausch Archive “Future Workshop” for the Tanztheater Wuppertal

“On the Mountain a Cry was heard” by Pina Bausch, dancer: ensemble, April 2002; © Ursula Kaufmann
“On the Mountain a Cry was heard” by Pina Bausch, dancer: ensemble, April 2002 | Photo (detail): © Ursula Kaufmann

Pina 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, callsthe archive a “future workshop”. It should be a place where “thematerials are accessible so that one can research them, work with themand develop something new.” Bausch recalls that “creating and using anarchive was an integral part of my mother’s work from the verybeginning. Working with some of the dancers and collaborators, shestarted several years ago systematically making the growing stockaccessible, especially the thousands of video recordings. She specifiedprecisely what belonged in the archive and the kind of structure itshould have.” Thus it was a given that the Pina Bausch Foundation shouldcontinue the work on the archive. Financial subsidies have been grantedby the Federal Cultural Foundation, the state of North Rhine-Westphaliaand a private foundation.

“Traces of a past event”

MarcWagenbach, archivist with many years of experience, describes thestocks as “traces of a past event on stage, documentations of aperformance.” Videos and personal memories of the artists have alwaysbeen part of the work involved in the authentic revival of earlierpieces or in re-castings – in which meanwhile three generations arecollaborating. Unlike Martha Graham, for example, Pina Bausch was nevermonopolistic. With great sensitivity she gradually established theprinciple of alternative casting. Thus Helena Pikon alternated with herin 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.

Afterthe sudden death of Pina Bausch, Dominique Mercy, Bausch-dancer since1973, was appointed artistic director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal PinaBausch GmbH together with Robert Sturm, Bausch’s personal assistant.They are both members of the Foundation’s Advisory Board. Throughout theworld interest is still as fervent as ever. 26,000 spectators applaudedthe company at its latest guest performance in London. As thecentrepiece of the cultural programme of the Olympic summer games 2012 World Cities ”, the company presented 10 of the co-productions with metropolises andregions all over the world within 30 days. It was the last and biggestproject that Bausch had initiated.

New productions, revivals – and “something completely new”

Eachseason the ensemble in Wuppertal presents at least one piece that hasnot been part of its active repertoire for several years. Last year itwas 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 timesince the Japan tour in 1993. Mercy emphasises that “Wuppertal was, isand always will be our home. We all live here. Otherwise our everydayrehearsal schedule just wouldn’t work.”

Atpresent concrete planning extends up to 2015. The company shows sevenpieces per season in short blocks of three to four performancesrespectively in the Opernhaus Wuppertal. “Hosts and friends all over theworld have remained loyal to us and are still inviting us,” says Mercy.Thus in their 39th season the company is giving guest performancesbetween New York and Peking. For the very first time they will beappearing in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. The occasion is the centenary ofthe 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-likeadministration of Pina Bausch’s heritage” and see a future for theTanztheater only if the Company also produces its own pieces. This isplanned for the season 2013/14, for the 40th anniversary.

Pina Bausch Archive and the consequences

Danceprofessionals all over the world are expecting to find inspiration fortheir own work from the opening of the Pina Bausch Archive. Traces ofthe Folkwang tradition are clearly visible in Germany despite theoverall precarious situation of dance. Along with theFolkwang-Tanzstudio in Essen, Bremen, Kassel and Bielefeld alsocultivate technique and tradition. In Bremen Reinhild Hoffmann’s Callas was recently performed again, 30 years after its première. As thesuccessor to Urs Dietrich, Samir Akika has just begun his engagementthere with his team “Unusual Symptoms”. In Kassel Johannes Wieland,Folkwang graduate with many years of experience in New York, isproducing very original dance theatre work. In Bielefeld the Swisschoreographer Gregor Zöllig follows in Pina Bausch’s footsteps by alwaysdeveloping his choreographies together with his dancers. And threeformer directors of the Folkwang-Tanzstudio recently gave guestperformances in his theatre with their own choreographies: ReinhildHoffmann, Susanne Linke and Henrietta Horn.