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Interviewte Person
Interviewee
Beatrice Libonati

Recherche, Übersetzung und Interview
Research, Translation and Interview
Ricardo Viviani

Kamera
Camera
Sala Seddiki

Transkription
Transcript
Ursula Böhmer

Schnitt
Video editor
Christian Edgar Scholz

© Pina Bausch Foundation

Interview with Beatrice Libonati, 17/5/2022 (2/2)

This is the second interview with Beatrice Libonati, a former dancer of the Tanztheater Wuppertal. This two-part series was recorded in 2022 at her home in the Czech Republic. In this interview, Beatrice Libonati shares her memories of working with Pina Bausch on various pieces, with a focus on On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard and Ahnen. She explains how Pina Bausch's creative process evolved and how it affected her own artistic development. She also discusses her struggles with illness, her decision to leave the company, and her ongoing exploration of dance and poetry as art forms.

The interview is in German, English subtitles are available.

IntervieweeBeatrice Libonati
InterviewerRicardo Viviani
Camera operatorSala Seddiki

Permalink:
https://archives.pinabausch.org/id/20220517_83_0002


Table of contents

1

Chapter 1.1

Bandoneon
0:22

Ricardo Viviani:

Did something come to mind between yesterday and today?

Beatrice Libonati:

In Bandoneon, the second part was at the beginning and the first part now is the second part. Well, we started with Janusz Subicz and the girls on the wall, that's how it started. It happened in a break, I can't exactly when, but the technicians started dismantling the whole sets, maybe for another show, because we were too late. We continued to rehearse during this clean-up work, and Pina Bausch kept it just like that.

Ricardo Viviani:

Yes, it is now part of the piece that stage hands come and dismantle the sets.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, that's at the end of the first part. I don't remember exactly, but it might have been in the complete run-throught [Hauptprobe] , possibly, I don't remember which rehearsal it was.

Chapter 1.2

Walzer
2:09

Ricardo Viviani:

Did you do Walzer?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, I did Walzer. Yes, I was pregnant. Well, I had a belly like that. I rehearsed lika a savage. I remember that Mr. Klaus Wildenhahn was there, and he filmed a rehearsal, where I was dancing over a bed. Pina Bausch wanted that in the piece, and that should be a sofa. But Peter Pabst came with a bed with a heavy cloth over it. I tried it out anyway. Doing a turn, I caught with my foot in the railing and I fell. We were all a bit afraid. Luckly, nothing happened, I fell safely from such a height. It was not pleasant with such a big belly. Then, we let it be, I twisted my ankle, it wasn't pleasant. We rehearsed in Wuppertal, and I think that was the first time we also rehearsed abroad. In Holland, the first time we rehearsed abroad, that was the first co-production with Pina Bausch.

Ricardo Viviani:

That was for the Holland Festival.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, probably. The premiere was in the Theater Carré, a former circus.

Ricardo Viviani:

This was the second season that there was only one production per year. The first was with Bandoneon, then Walzer.

Beatrice Libonati:

True, because Pina wanted to revive her previous pieces, so she created the conditions to restage her repertoire. I don't know if was that year, or after that Renate emigrates was restaged.

Chapter 1.3

Renate Emigrates
5:19

Ricardo Viviani:

Did you participate in the creation of Renate emigrates?

Beatrice Libonati:

No, but I was present, I sat at the rehearsals. Pina Bausch even would ask: "What do you think about that? I really wanted this movement here (shows) in a line dance." And I told her: "Yes, you can bring this as a picture, do it once, and then later again, as a Leitmotiv.", and she put it twice in the piece.

Ricardo Viviani:

Yes, that is interesting because you were very young there, and Renate Emigrates is specially about young love, about relationship.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, I also watched some rehearsals, upstairs in the scenery workshops [Malsaal]. Jan Minarik and Marlis Alt rehearsed some scenes there and I watched it.

Ricardo Viviani:

Which role did you learn for the restaging of it?

Ricardo Viviani:

Do you have any memories of On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, that was the first piece after having my child. It was the first piece where I was involved in the creation and played the premiere. I have good memories of that, it was a very creative and good time for me. From this time on, I had a very harmonious work relationship with Pina Bausch.

Ricardo Viviani:

In On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard there was the so-called "Pinas Fragen" meaning questions, tasks or keywords. I come again to this topic that we talked about yesterday, doing tasks, was this time pleasant for you, were you able to thrive this time around?

Beatrice Libonati:

She wasn't so strict anymore. She was strict in Kontakthof. She was very strict in her demand to see six times of something, and she wanted to see each one after the other. As Jakob Andersen came, I think during Two cigarettes in the Dark, that's where she changed a bit because the new dancers didn't want to do everything. Then she gave them time, maybe give answers a day later. And yes, I've also adapted myself, I found that to be a better way to collaborate. It was also another way to present a piece. If you look at the shape of this piece On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard, it has less group moments and more single individuals who emerge in the scenes.

Ricardo Viviani:

This one scene where run up the side portal and some of the men lift you up and place you on Jan Minarik's arms, showcases your body and athletic skills.

Beatrice Libonati:

I made that up. I can't remember the question. Maybe it was "being in the air, or move through the air" or "do something without end". I can't remember anymore.

Ricardo Viviani:

Definitely, these words you mentioned fit perfectly: in the air, endless. This image is almost like an inverted "Pietà" [Sculpture by Michelangelo 1499]. Fits both people: you and Jan Minarik. Are there other things that you remember bringing to this piece?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, everything that I do in the piece. Except the one thing with the hair: that was "getting old". I first did it to myself, and Pina Bausch suggested that Jacob Andersen should do it to me. That is the scene with the chalk. My hair was long, parted in the middle, then I took a piece of chalk and combed my hair from the top down with this chalk, both sides, so that the hair became white, then I looked older. And there is another segment where I sing this song and undress: a strip-tease. I undressed and hummed quickly, I didn't sing because I didn't know the words. I had to look the words up. A few days later I did whole thing with undressing and with singing. Then Pina Bausch wanted me to slow it down. Then, there is this scene at the end with the bucket, Janusz Subicz and the balloons: these are many things brought together. This part with "Finito, capito?" [Finished, you understand?]. The other thing was pulling around in a circle, it was not my idea, it was from Nazareth Panadero ... but Bénédicte did a few things. That was Nazareth, and Benedikt did the drowning scene. So the roles changed a bit, mixed a bit.

Ricardo Viviani:

That's also a thing, when new people came along, the roles were not necessarily transmited from one to one, sometimes divided, sometimes together.

Beatrice Libonati:

Sometimes, Pina wanted someone to do more things, then a role was divided.

Ricardo Viviani:

On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard was played very often. Yes we played many times, everywhere. In the next season, it was the first time in North America. The company played for the Olympics in Los Angeles and then in New York.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, I've already played in Café Müller.

2

16:24

Ricardo Viviani:

That was exactly what I wanted talk about. Can we maybe talk about Café Müller? During the South America tour ...

Beatrice Libonati:

I did it once. According to the contract, I should have done it twice, but I knew that Pina absolutely wanted Malou Airaudo to do it. Then, I thought she might as well do it. Still, Pina said she had a good feeling about me. ...

Ricardo Viviani:

Then you played again in New York, and a few other places.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes. I've played it everywhere, wherever it was played, because Malou didn't want to do it anymore. That was after the piece in Holland.

Ricardo Viviani:

After Walzer in 1982? Did you play in Italy, Sassari and Cagliari?

Beatrice Libonati:

In Cagliari, I did. Yes.

Ricardo Viviani:

Alright, Wuppertal, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto. Hamburg? That was a special set up in The Kampnagel Fabrik.

Beatrice Libonati:

Exactly. Yes. Malou Airaudo wasn't there.

Ricardo Viviani:

I mean the role of Malou and the room had no exits.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, I don't know how we solved that problem. But, maybe we solved it in such a way, that instead of going out like in Wuppertal, we went out where we came back in. So, I'm not entirely sure, but it could be that we solved so.

Ricardo Viviani:

Then we have Essen, Paris, Venice, [Madrid, Grenoble, Lyon, Tokyo], these are all places, that is roughly in this time that it was played.

18:57

Beatrice Libonati:

And then the movie was about to be shot and I thought I'd do it, but they didn't tell me anything. We were in Rome and Jan Minarik told me that they would have a meeting. We're doing Kontakthof in Rome, he told me they'd meet later in the afternoon, and Malou was also there for the movie. I was furious and I went to Pina, I asked: "Yes, what about me? What about the movie?" Pina: "Ah yes, Malou will do it!" I was astound, there was no excuse. No word, I mean, that was not correct for me. I didn't do that anymore, she didn't dare to ask me after that. Well, just once in Moscow, because Malou had a cyst like this in her knee. She couldn't do that. But, that was few years later, I had calmed down again.

Performance of “Kontakthof” by Pina Bausch with Tanztheater Wuppertal at Teatro Argentina Rom (Italy), June 12, 1985 Performance of “Café Müller” by Pina Bausch with Tanztheater Wuppertal at Mossovet Theatre Moscow (Russia), Sept. 17, 1993
3

Chapter 3.1

Ahnen
20:50

Ricardo Viviani:

Ahnen, do you have memories from Ahnen?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, it was a very good time. She rehearsed endlessly with me, maybe because I had so many ideas. As we were on stage, she had full notebooks with just my ideas, only with my ideas that were tried with everyone else. Yes, that was my time, so to speak.

Ricardo Viviani:

Ahnen have so many references from all the dancers, to their roots, is this so? You mean Ahnen? Ahnen has two meanings:
To have a presentiment, and the ancestors.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, that's right. That is exactly what the lineage is. And we have the Ahnenreihe line dance. These are couples evolving as in a garland along the stage. The women make movements like this, as in "woman" in the sign language of the Indians, and the men do like this, up front, with this sign. And they evolve as couples, step by step.

Ricardo Viviani:

I'm not very familiar with Ahnen, so I need you to help me out a bit. What did you create for yourself there?

Beatrice Libonati:

There is that scene in the chair where I float as a corpse, so to speak. It is a sequence where I have this floating on the chair, then I go down and I quickly move forward. And I've got a chair, on this chair is a "Trauerflor" [mourning black ribbon], prepared with tape. Then, I stand, I pick up the ribbon, and place it on my mouth. This "Trauerflor" it is like a loop, round here, and then there is a knot and a small bow, nothing big. So, I floated on the chair, I stood up. I've floated again, with this black ribbon. These things came out of all her questions: "floating", "Trauerflor", then going down, quickly forward, give a kiss, turning, and then floating again. Then Jan Minarik comes and picks me up and he brings me behind the small house. The house question was: "build something", so I built a small house. Elsewhere was "ironing the bed". Everytime I press, I put something on my face, jewlery and more jewelry. That was something from my mother: she ironed the bed sheets because we had no heating in Rome. She ironed the sheets, so we were able to fall asleep. Nobody knows about that today. Another part was this aggressive part with Julie Stanzak. That happened to me once on the street. This time I going to Academmia, after my mother drove me, I still had to go up and down a small bridge, walk a bit and then take a train. Then a group of young workers pass by, and one did this to me: "poti, poti" to my breasts. And of course I tried to protect myself like this, and then one slap me from the back. That was very unpleasant and there was something along these lines in Pina's questions. I asked Julie if I could do that, she agreed. Another thing was a belt with a ribbon and a can of cola twisted around. That was the tie. There was anonther place where I crawl like a lioness with a tie that swings like that. These are several things that didn't make into the piece. For example, I lit and threw a match up in the air and place myself under it. But that was too dangerous, the fire department was against it. Or the mask, was also from me, with a foot in a water bucket.

Ricardo Viviani:

That's interesting, talking to Jan Minarik, I've noticed that I always see scenes where one person is passive and the other person does something to that person. The passive person, doesn't react, and as you described the scene with Julie Stanzak, I realised that because something is being portrayed, these conditions have to be there, the way you experienced or remembered.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, true. Also with Jan Minarik we have nice things together. There is a nice "pas de deux", a duet. He brings me from side to side over and over again. And I'm doing these moves back and forward. Yes, that was very nice with a beautiful music.

Ricardo Viviani:

The rehearsals were filmed, and that became a small film AHNEN ahnen. Allegedly, a preliminary stage for The Complaint of an Empress film. Do you then have memories of the The Complaint of an Empress?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, there was a lot of material filmed, also with me, but not much of me was left over in the movie, for example, we filmed in a shop with stuffed animals, or as I swept an open street. I can remember one place very well, when I was on Jan's shoulder. I can't remember his exact words anymore, but I thought I'd have to put my head down. So I fell down, head first, and he held me by the dress, otherwise I would have hit my head on the floor.

Ricardo Viviani:

There is a strong level of trust, that is built between dancers. Of course, you have a special relationship with Jan Minarik, and he is also a strong man. Is that true?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, of course. When one did something with him, you were at home. You felt at home. Not only I had this feeling, but so did the colleagues who worked with him. That is something that makes him unique.

Ricardo Viviani:

These are very different types of work: stage work and in front of the camera. For the stage you rehearse so much, maybe for the camera, things might happen, are filmed, and so they are in the movie. Still, the process is different, were there also questions or tasks?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, there were questions. We also rehearsed a lot. Still Pina Bausch wanted very much to go outside, leave the stage, the rhehearsal studio. She wanted to show Wuppertal in the film. There are a few things that were filmed in the hall, but she definitely wanted to go outside. And it was a problematic process – just like here now, that before you do something, you have to set the lights, or find the right mood for the camera. It took a long time before you could film. Back then we had Detlef Erler to film, after the first cameraman died. It was an experienced professional cameraman, at first. With Detlef was different, of course, it wasn't like professional cameraman, even though he did it very well. Eventually, someone else came along as well. So, one was proofing the picture throught this small viewfinder over and over again. Pina Bausch didn't say much. In fact, she could say something like: "You know, maybe you could do more like that, or so." But, she was so unsure, I don't think she dared to give any corrections. Now that I'm thinking about it: the makeup was different. We were given a different colors for makeup, and we were supposed do very little. One of the first times, I made my make-up, as I for the stage, maybe a bit less than usual. She said: "It's way too much!" So I removed it all. Then, sometimes it was very cold, like when we were in the woods with Jan Minarik, we hugged in a stream, in the cold water.

Ricardo Viviani:

Are you children in the film?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, our children were also in the film.

Ricardo Viviani:

It is an interesting time: the end of the Cold War.

37:33

Beatrice Libonati:

Didn't we do Iphigenie auf Tauris in this time?

Ricardo Viviani:

Shortly after, wait a minute, that's a good question. Exactly. Iphigenie auf Tauris was in the season of 1989/90.

Beatrice Libonati:

After Palermo Palermo.

Ricardo Viviani:

Even before Palermo Palermo. ((RV: actually one year later, December 1990)) It's an interesting thing: you came to the company after Iphigenie auf Tauris, and you were part of the restaging of the piece. How was that for you? Was it a completely different kind of work?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, I found that work very exciting. I really wanted to know about this side of Pina Bausch. You know? I really liked that. To explore her artistic past work, her earlier style.

Ricardo Viviani:

I come to this because other artists, such as Johann Kresnik, were driven by the energy from the Cold War, from a divided Germany. Especially German artists derived strength for creation, and suddenly after the fall of the wall, this problem was no longer there. If I talk about Hans Kresnik, in my view, his work became different, it was kind of perplexed.

Beatrice Libonati:

For Jan Minarik and for me that was all well and good, but it wasn't financially beneficial for us, we're even is disadvantage. Taxes went up but our salaries were not adjusted. What you do with two small children? Something like that was rather difficult. It was different from now. Today, you have mothers and fathers paid leave. You have quite a lot of child support money. With Hannah, we received 50 marks per month, and that was all spent in diapers. With Nepomuk we got 75 mark. One of our salaries went to the babysitter. While we were in the company, people went to Bali, to Mexico on vacation, and we had to teach summer courses in La Spezia, by a friend of mine.

Chapter 3.4

Palermo Palermo
41:45

Ricardo Viviani:

During this period Palermo Palermo was created.

Beatrice Libonati:

There was that fighting energy again, that was nice. We could feel how much Pina was motivated. I believe, that drained her energy as well. She was really into it. She gave all her power to the piece. It was great working with her during that time.

Ricardo Viviani:

You also have some very nice scenes there. Could you, maybe describe a few for us, with your words?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, there are many. Okay, I'll start with the simple one where I paint the flower. The question was "a field of flowers". Yes, I pantomimed it, at first I painted a flower in the air, then Pina wanted me to draw it with chalk, so the flowers would stay on the ground. Then there was that with the bottle. The question was "you were insulted, greatly", how do you react? Then I did, with dynamic, really fast, short and concise this thing with a bottle with Antonio. Pina Bausch transformed that into an old woman, or an old widow held so, she won't fall down. The whole thing as she would pee from bottle in slow motion. So this insult doesn't come off as vulgar, but more symbolic. Then there is the "Bon Racu", that was a collaboration, that whole scene. That was a compilation of things from the bells (sings). I start with the mother cat, who takes her little ones by the neck. I took Jean Sasportes, from the back of his shirt and wandered around the stage, four times back and forth. I let him fall. And then came this wheel on the wall, recently with Bernd Marszan, then comes Jan Minarik. I climb up his shoulder, up the wall, and then I go to the corner, then comes the "Bon Racu". That was an idea from Francis Viet with all the men and I. I'm a doll, and Pina Bausch wanted me to make a gesture like this with my hands. Then from there, came this row from Pina, where I lay and the men are take this step. Then I get up, then comes the bell, I think the bell comes twice, but I don't remember the first time. Every man does the bell with me. Then there is my little dance with Paganini. That was composed with movements from her and from many questions she posed, like "the stars"; a small composition about the stars. For example this here (shows). "La volta celeste"

Beatrice Libonati:

And then this here (shows), that's where the teeth shine like a star, like in cartoons. And then the eyes (shows) giving sight to the people. So many different things. Then, the hem of my dress, then the little elephant. I didn't understand the hem of the dress.
Through the hem of the dress, we measure the hem or go through the edge. The little elephant is still very shaky on its feet. Well, I can't think of everything now. Still, dancing on the stones was no pleasure. Once I really hurt myself, under my foot, the protection of bones was hurt, and it was very difficult to go on performing. The stones were not flat on the floor, there was the rope under these stones. This small block was like so, and as I stepped on it, it wobbled and hit my foot. Yes, it was truly dangerous. Beyond that, the music for the procession with the apple is fantastic. Also this bagpipe music at the end is so great, that has such power. And by the way, towards the end of On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard this Scottish music bagpipe music is also there. When Jean Francois Duroure measures himself whole. This music has such power for what comes next.

Ricardo Viviani:

Yes, it is like that at the end of Palermo! Very impressive, these couples. Was there a particular question from Pina?

Beatrice Libonati:

The line with this movement (shows) is a Pina movement, also with the apple.

Ricardo Viviani:

But when the couples are fighting? That's in the end of the first part.
Oh, you're right, sorry, the first part.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, The first question was "to paint a bull", then there was "movements to kill or hit", and then we combined everything together. First we just showed the painting of the bull, and then we did the "hitting" part as pairs.

Ricardo Viviani:

After Palermo Palermo we have three pieces in the coming seasons: the "Madrid piece", Ein Trauerspiel, and The Piece with the Ship. The "Madrid piece" played only few times. That is a piece I have very little information. Do you have any memories of that piece?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, that was great, it was so nice, but I had the impression, that Pina Bausch didn't have the same strength that she had in Palermo Palermo. It was often the case that she did not know what she truly wanted. In Palermo Palermo she had total confidence in herself, and in the "Madrid piece"not so much. That happens when you are supposed to deliver a new piece every single year. Still, the atmosphere very pleasant. There were some passages with music by Peter Kowald and a singer that I found incredibly good, a korean singer. What I found nice about this piece was that it wasn't chaotic, but somehow was drawn out, a bit lengthy maybe, pulled out by this music in between.

Beatrice Libonati:

You know, there are things that happen that made Pina Bausch unsure of herself, some feedback sometimes.

Ricardo Viviani:

That's why I'm asking, because this post Cold War rediscovery time, specially for us in Germany, as a society, was a transition time. So, I make a hypothesis, was this also the case artistically?

Beatrice Libonati:

Palermo Palermo

Ricardo Viviani:

True I believe that in so many pieces, there are things that happen in the world that are artistically processed in some way or another. Chernobyl and other things that have happened through the years, certainly not explicit, but as an artistic translation.

Beatrice Libonati:

But Pina Bausch would not normally allow herself to be influenced by these things. If there are any small indications are because they fit the pieces, and not because they have some political significance. I don't know about that. I just know, for example, there were people like Mr. Schneider, an osteopath, who to visited us regularly. He cured everyone as an osteopath, with his fingers in the back. He got everyone back on track. He was very disappointed with Palermo Palermo. He is someone who likes classical ballet. These opinions from people that were important to her, possibly made her unsure. He said things like he wanted to see more of Dominique Mercy's dancing. And that was the problem, because in Palermo Palermo she did as she felt like, and not everyone danced. Now started a period when everyone had a little dance in the pieces. It was either more accommodating people like him, or something to bring new discoveries for her pieces. They also started to use more slides and videos on stage. But I don't think this has something to do with the fall of the wall, because the fall of the wall in Palermo Palermo has nothing to do with the fall of the wall in Berlin. The fall of the Palermo Wall had been planned long time before, because she wanted to have stones on the stage floor, like ruins. True, we to explain it again and again, because people don't know that, and they correlate these events, but that's not so. The connection is a kind of intuition.

Chapter 3.6

Ein Trauerspiel
1:00:19

Ricardo Viviani:

Ein Trauerspiel follows the "Madrid piece". That's a piece that was created in Vienna, and it is also a piece I haven't seen on a stage. But already the title Ein Trauerspiel [a tragedy] is suggestive. Do you have any memories of it?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, some memories. The stage set was supposed to be black sand, like volcanic sand. As we came to the stage, all of a sudden, the dancers were bleeding because of it. They really fought back, we said it doesn't work like that. Then, they took it away, it was very finely ground. It came back with a different texture, because the dancers spoke out. You see, before the dancers didn't complain when something like that happened, when the stage made dancing difficult. But this time, it was a bit too much, so that you had to bleed, that was unacceptable. Yes, and there were nice things created for this piece. There was this island that we moved. The whole stage was covered with sand, the it was like a stream around the center. In other words, in the middle of this lake there was an island. It's all black and it swayed a bit, in a corner was a waterfall.

Beatrice Libonati:

I can only speak for myself. We came from the restaging of Orpheus und Eurydike. Paris was later. The fact was that Jan Minarik was not happy that I was doing it. But I loved those pieces of Pina Bausch, where people danced more, it was a bit different. The problem was that you had to learn from these videos that were in a very poor quality, and I worked such times that I was home at three in the afternoon. So the afternoon break for me was very short. Jan Minarik took care of the children during that time. I must say, again, that for the editing of the film The Complaint of an Empress, Jan was gone all day, all night, so that I was alone with the children the whole time. So now, it was the other way around, that shouldn't have been a problem, but it was. He didn't like that Pina Bausch took too much advantage from us. Anyway, I had this lift up in the air in the beginning, then the man brings me down very slowly, then there is a series of movements.
Originally, Jan Minarik did this part. There is a scene later where three men dance with leather aprons. In the original video tapes, the the man who does this lift doesn't dance afterwards. Jan also said that for the back it's too exhausting, to do these difference parts, muscle power here and then dancing was way too demanding. So it did happen that the man who did this lift with me injured his back. It didn't just happen once, and that meant I'd have extra rehearsals for this, even on Sundays. It happened over and over again that I had extra rehearsals for this lift. Sometimes we did it with two men, so you have to change something, and that took time. Of course, I wasn't home then, I was in the theater the whole time. I remember this Mr. Schneider saying that when I'm home, I have to be home, and not be thinking about the theatre. Pina Bausch wanted to know "Well, how are you? And how was it with Mr. Schneider?" So I told her that and she was insulted. And I tell this story now, because that had an effect in this Ein Trauerspiel. Yes, that means she pushed me aside a bit, even though I also do nice things here and there, still she thought I need to be punished a bit. So, this was the mood and slowly I became ill. Yes, I had colon cancer, I didn't know yet, but there was something wrong there.

Ricardo Viviani:

But for the next season you were there for The Piece with the Ship?

Beatrice Libonati:

That was before that. The Piece with the Ship was before that.

1:08:57

Ricardo Viviani:

That is correct. Yes, you're right about that. I skipped The Piece with the Ship.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, the atmosphere was still good there.

Ricardo Viviani:

In The Piece with the Ship you and Jan Minarik work as a good team, one can see that clearly: in the beggining. Can you maybe describe these scenes?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, with the pulling, that was "The Ant"?

Ricardo Viviani:

Yes, you have a long distance from one side to the other, over and over again.

Beatrice Libonati:

And this hug, that quick hug.

Ricardo Viviani:

We see you as a team.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, we felt the support from Pina Bausch.

Ricardo Viviani:

Any other parts in The Piece with the Ship that you can think of?

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, there are several. So there is this diagonal. Over again with one hand (shows), these movements that you don't do by yourself, but let one hand move you.

Ricardo Viviani:

Like a puppet.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, then this walk I do with Jan, with this quick hug, as a break, and then "the ant" again and then the hug again, that was the whole time. It was something small. It was nice, this piece is very poetic for me. Janusz Subicz wanted me to be a pendulum. That was also there. Then, I had this scene where I lean on a wall, I had this images from Paris, these art nouveau paintings on glass. These women from Mucha. I thought that Jan should come with a water bucket and clean the mirror, but he took the bucket and threw the whole bucket on me. Pina liked that very much, where I stay still, and didn't react as he got me all wet. There's also the climbing over Jan Minarik all the way up and grab on the side railings and stay trere. There is this scene, that I think Pina was very keen on. The question was "fainting" or "nightmare." I closed my eyes like this and then I laughed, then I opened candy wrap, but the sweets fell from the paper, and I screamed, but just like in a dream (shows), but loud. I did that with Jan, falling back and then forward, and as he carried me away, I made this scream. Pina Bausch couldn't have enough of listening to that. As we were doing it, I looked at her and she was imitating me. That was quite a thing. That is in the piece. There is the tying of Jan's shoelaces. Yes, we have a lot of material together in the piece. The wheel and kiss. Once again, hugging and with lipstick. Then blinded by a piece of paper, walking against the wall. Yes, I have also a small dance in there.

Ricardo Viviani:

We'll talk now talking about The Window Washer. This is a co-production made in Hong Kong. We haven't talked yet, from your side, about this being in these cities, and making observations. How was this situation like? Did you came into the studio afterwards, were there questions?

Beatrice Libonati:

So I didn't go to Hong Kong, I stayed in Wuppertal. Later as well, for Masurca Fogo I stayed in Wuppertal. I worked on the questions in Wuppertal. About the other cities, that was beautiful. In Palermo, it was fantastic, also in Madrid. We went with Jan Minarik to the markets: the smells of tomatoes, of garlic, of fennel and all of these vegetables. These markets are so lively, so colorful. You can't compare that with German markets. Yes, we enjoyed that. Walk around these old towns is something special. All the way back in Holland, in Amsterdam was nice: the alleys, these water canals. That was really nice.

Ricardo Viviani:

I'm going back to Kontakthof to jump back to the question methods. You told us that in Kontakthof she was very strict with what she wanted, and asked the questions. Afterwards, something was composed and showed to her. Three months later, one had to repeat that. Pina Bausch wrote things down, packed it away and at some point in a different situation she would ask: "Can you remember what you did then?" Was it like that? Were you surprised by that? Do you remember turning points in these processes?

4

1:17:54

Beatrice Libonati:

Not in Kontakthof. It was very constructed and also the chaos that is there was all very constructed. The stuff she was asking was very simple, actually. Sit six times. You could easly remember. Six times caresses. Six times aggressive caresses. There was a lot of material from her. For example, the whole thing with the two girls, also Jan Minarik leading scenes. Even the movements she brought, it was all very clear in her head.

Ricardo Viviani:

And then the questions, let's say in On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard.

Beatrice Libonati:

In On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard Yes, you had to remember, but I don't think that was three months later.

Ricardo Viviani:

But somehow, you realized that it's not just about to do something, but you have to know what it was and how did it work?

Chapter 4.2

Recollections
1:19:42

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes. And sometimes she had an idea when she saw something. It also happened to me: I also wrote it down how I had done it, how I remembered that, but she said: "No, you did it differently."

Ricardo Viviani:

That means, you took your notes too.
Everyone had notebooks and wrote for themselves. Okay, I made this triple jump so that we Kontakthof, On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard, then we have Palermo Palermo, where so many people have gathered so many impressions and presented to Pina Bausch, she collected that. Now in The Window Washer, they were there, had their impressions, had the questions, tasks. And you were in Wuppertal, did you say you'd get it by fax or something? Could that be true?

Chapter 4.3

Health struggles
1:21:14

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, I may have received the question by fax in the theatre, or it may have come to our house. I answered the questions. I picked up more books about Hong Kong, customs and so on. And it was also a few things that I did that were interesting.

Beatrice Libonati:

But I had to fight with my body because of the operation. And that was a difficult operation, I wasn't very young anymore. I worked throught the material, but I realised that I couldn't show everything as I had it in my head anymore. I had to find another way of doing things, of showing things in the way I was able to perform. Yes, it is true. This was very exhausting, psychologically as well. They say that when you had cancer, then you must change something in your life.

Beatrice Libonati:

I had a feeling that I had something, still I had to make an appointment for the exams. I needed two days, a day to diet and drink fluids, to rinse the intestines. I say it, as it is. The day after, I would have had the exam. You didn't get an appointment right away, maybe a month, or month and a half later could you get an appointment. So, I told Pina Bausch that I in that certain day I had this exam and she said: "That it might just be a minor upset stomach, and besides, I don't know what I'm up to that day." Whenever Pina wanted something from me, I always immediately said yes. But now, I'm in a situation like this and she doesn't take me seriously. It turned out that it was just before the cancer start to spread, then I had metastasis too. That means I had 19 ganglia lymph nodes to be removed. It wasn't an easy surgery. She came twice. She came to the hospital shortly before the operation, with a small bouquet of wild roses. I think, she probably had a bad conscience. And then, she came after the operation. It was all really bad for me, I was there for a very long time, maybe three weeks. The doctors said it's not a walk in the park, you need to change something in your life. That is easy said than done. When you have two small children, you can't overnight say I won't work for the Tanztheater anymore. How am I supposed to pay the rent, even though Jan is working, it would not have been enough.

Beatrice Libonati:

I kept going anyway. I tried to approach things in another way. That was with The Window Washer and with Masurca Fogo. And at some point, there was a tour for The Window Washer, I think, and I asked Pina Bausch: "Look, Rainer Behr stays home, or Julie Shanahan stays home because they had children. I wanted to ask if Jan Minarik might stay home, this time with the children?" Pina Bausch said: "I don't know. I know that Jan Minarik still has a lot to say and that you have less." So with that, things were clear to me. Okay, I'll stay home then. But ,it turned out that Jan stayed home after all, and I went along for the tour. But can you imagine having had cancer, you've overcome it. Still, you're very unsure. I was still afraid for ten years. And then someone comes and tells me that I don't have much more to say anymore. So, I started making my own dance pieces. When the company was on tour I worked in my pieces.

Beatrice Libonati:

So, I did not participate in the new pieces anymore. I didn't want to do some of them, I also told her: "I don't want to." Since I don't have much to say, then there is no point in me taking part in this, right? I did some of the old pieces and that's when I started to have problems with my back and mental health: I wanted to throw myself off bridges. Each time I passed by, I thought about it. Then there was one osteopath or craniologist Mr. Poujard from France, Paris. That was also someone that treated the company, and I went to see him. He said he couldn't open my head, I don't know how long I stayed there. And at some point, that worked. I also felt that the fluids started to flow inside the head. Héléna Pikon told me that he confided in her – they were friends – that I was at risk of suicide. Yes, it was like that.

5

Chapter 5.1

Poems
1:32:09

Ricardo Viviani:

Between art and this doctor you were able to overcome that?

Beatrice Libonati:

I've overcome that.

Ricardo Viviani:

I find it very important for people to hear this. Did you start writing then?

Beatrice Libonati:

I started early with painting, writing and also choreography. I also wrote a poem about my father when I was 15 or 16. A lovely poem about a statue he created. Writing poems is something that you must have in your blood, and I had it in my blood. During my cancer treatment, my doctor was an anthroposophist. Dr. Finkenrad told me to paint. So, I started painting again. And writting came back to me at the same time. When you have such serious illnesses you're sidelined in a company like this, even bullied a bit. And you have so much to say, but you can't express that. Then you need another outlet. Somewhere where this pented up steam can come out. Writting and painting really helped me, as much as making my own choreographies. I had something to say. Do you understand? I had something to communicate.

Ricardo Viviani:

Could it be, that now it was your time and not a time for the company. Of course, there are the limitations of the economy, the material side of life as an artist, as person, as mother, as wife, becoming older, regaining health. All that requires new ways of living. I just like to stress how important it is to seek help. Having someone to help is so very important.

Beatrice Libonati:

Yes, I have a very good friend who said to me, to go and find a psychotherapist, immediately. And I did, the first was the wrong one, just wrong. Then, I found someone that understoond my psychosomatic symptoms. I couldn't breathe, at night, I would wake up with panic attacks. I went to have my lungs checked. I walked up the stairs with the doctor, and I was completely fit. I didn't have these problems. So, he refered me to someone he knew well, who is good with psychosomatic problems. It took me two years to get better, at the same time I applied to get my pension.

1:36:58

Ricardo Viviani:

So, then came the point when you broke up with the company? Would you like to talk about it?

Beatrice Libonati:

I made a final break up with the company. Pina Bausch thought that I would come back from time to time. You know, if they don't want me, then I'll also say no, then it's over. I've waited a long time, to see if a solution might be found. Then, when I said no, I truly meant it. That's how I am. Pina would call me, every birthday. She called me even after I was away. She spoke in the answering machine, a month before she died. My birthday is on the 29th May and she died on 9th ((30th)) June. She said: "I'd really like to see you." She pleaded me, and I almost wanted to give in, but I was afraid that I'd fall for it. I'm someone who always comes to help, but in that moment, I was the one who needed help. I needed to make up my mind.

1:39:48

Ricardo Viviani:

Now there is a new path. I met you at a colloquium on Jean Cébron

Beatrice Libonati:

in Paris.

Ricardo Viviani:

Then, I came to a reading of your poems.

Beatrice Libonati:

You've come several times.

Ricardo Viviani:

Yes, I've became a fan. Now, I have the priviledge of being here, talking to you. I was very impressed by your poems, when did you first publish the books?

1:40:48

Beatrice Libonati:

How can I explain that? My third dance piece was in co-production with Pact Zollverein in Essen. During the train rides to Essen, back and forth, I wrote these poems. They were quite a few, because I was going to Essen for two, three weeks, and I had quite a long time in the train. Later I realized, that I was actually considering to publish a book. I was really commited to it, so I spoke with publishers. But all I heard was that it's not worth it, because there were also drawings by me, I printed them myself. In the meantime I'd made my fourth piece Ophelia and the Dragon, a solo evening. In the second part, after a short break, I read my poetry onstage. I printed it in a sheet with the drawings included and distributed them to the audience. At one of these shows, in the City Kirche in Wuppertal, Pina Bausch came. She was very interested, she took notes while I was dancing and reading. She really liked piece, too.

Beatrice Libonati:

It became more and more important for me to find someone who finishes a book. In the meantime, I was in contact with Christine Ostermann. She had this Backstubengalerie and had exhibitions there. I even took part in two exhibitions there, actually, I took part in three, one was with photos. She said that Christoph Hacker lived across the street and he is a publisher, she would to talk to him. He was interested, he came to the Backstubengalerie, and we spoke. I thought, well, it's probably just to be nice. He said he had a certain direction, he cared about young writers of Jewish origin: Polish, Czechs and so on. But, he'd make an exception, and so that's when my first book was published: Mondgespräche [Moon Conversations], Parlando con La Luna. It's bilingual, all seven books I've published so far are bilingual, German and Italian. Up to a point he had taken care of it, then Max Christian Graeff took care of the graphics. Every few years, I create a book. The books alternate, one is a bit more general, then it is about our lives: Jan Minarik and I, so alternating. I like to read a very short poem from the first book, that has to do with my departure.

Chapter 5.5

Poem Attimo
1:47:04

Beatrice Libonati:

Ein Mensch, ein Floß.
Es schaukelt treibend.
Ein Wahn und Hoffnungsschimmer

Beatrice Libonati:

Una persona, una zattera
Alla deriva, dondolando
Un chiarore di parzia e d'speranza

1:47:50

Beatrice Libonati:

From the last book, I'd like to read something that is very important to me. That's how it could work when you dance.

Beatrice Libonati:

ich bewegte mich auf der bühne
ich habe meinen körper verlassen
und meine seele tanzen lassen
die seele ist groß
sie hat keine grenzen
sie hat die 2000 menschen erreicht
in seoul... in hong kong...
ich habe gespürt, wie sie sie einsogen
und die seele wurde nicht kleiner
der raum war voll von ihr
ich habe meine seele gegeben
ich bin eine glückliche frau!

Beatrice Libonati:

mi muovevo sulla scena
ho abandonato il mio corpo
e ho lasciato danzare la mia anima
l'anima è grande
non ha confini
ha raggiunto le 2000 persone
a seoul... a hong kong...
ho sentito che l'assorbivano
e l'anima non diventatva più piccola
lo spazio era pieno di lei
ho dato la mia anima
sono una donna felice


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