|begin of collaboration with Pina Bausch
|1973 to 1991
dancer of the Tanztheater Wuppertal
|1994 to 1999
assistant from Pina Bausch and training director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal
was born in Amersfoort, Netherlands, in 1945. His father was a university professor, his mother a medical doctor. At the tender age of eight, while at holiday camp, he had a pivotal dance experience: he watched the camp leader and his daughter dance a polka. From then on, folk dance dictated how Kortlandt spent his free time. From 1961 to 1969 he also took classical ballet lessons at Mascha ter Weeme’s private school in Amsterdam. And he loved to play the flute.
Torn between medicine and dance
Despite strong artistic leanings, Kortlandt started out following in his mother’s footsteps, studying medicine in his native city, Amsterdam, from 1963 to 1965. However, he soon realised that medical school did not suit him, and dropped out. After completing military service, he studied flute, piano and music theory at the Conservatorium, as well as dance at the Scapino Dance Academy in Amsterdam, from 1967 to 1969. After he graduated, Ineke Sluiter recruited him for her recently founded company, Rotterdams Danscentrum, where he remained from 1969 to 1972. Sluiter, fascinated by Pina Bausch’s early work Im Wind der Zeit, invited Bausch to rehearse the piece with her dancers. This was Kortlandt’s first encounter with the future director of Tanztheater Wuppertal.
To complete his dance education, so to speak, Kortlandt took another dance course in Cologne in 1972, during which he was invited to join the world-famous Martha Graham Dance Company – an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. He spent a year dancing with Graham in New York and teaching at the Alvin Ailey School. Then, in 1973, he received an invitation to join Pina Bausch in Wuppertal, thus becoming one of the original members of her new company. Between 1973 and 1991, he contributed to the creation of twenty pieces and became one of the company’s best-known faces. Pina Bausch cast him in the prominent role of Pylades in her dance opera Iphigenie auf Tauris, and he also performed in a wide variety of pieces including The Rite of Spring, the revue piece I’ll Do You In… or AAdagio – Five Songs by Gustav Mahler. He performed in the highly successful The Seven Deadly Sins as well as the dramatic Bluebeard, in the lighthearted Renate wandert aus (Renate Emigrates) as well as the melancholy Arien. Pina Bausch kept experimenting with different genres until, with the Macbeth-Projekt, she found her ultimate work method – asking questions. Kortlandt accompanied her on this journey, collaborating in the creation of pieces like Kontakthof, Keuschheitslegende (Legend of Chastity), Walzer, Nelken (Carnations), Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehört (On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard), Viktor, Ahnen, right up to Palermo Palermo.
Change of scene, then back to Wuppertal
Ed Kortlandt left Wuppertal in 1991 to become director of the Rotterdamse Dansacademie (now Codarts University of the Arts). However, since he didn’t succeed in implementing his reform ideas there, he left and went freelance in 1993. He worked as a guest teacher in Amsterdam, Lausanne, Wuppertal, Essen, Berlin, Munich, and as far away as Bogotá. In 1994 he returned to Wuppertal, succeeding Hans Pop as assistant to Pina Bausch. This new position was extremely challenging, demanding constant presence and flexibility. He attended rehearsals, assisted with the administration, accompanied Pina Bausch on tour and to social events. After that, he worked as rehearsal and training director for the company, and helped out with various productions. From 2000 to 2012 he was also training director at Tanztheater Münster, under the direction of Daniel Goldin. From 2002 to 2009 he took part in the re-staging of Kontakthof. With Ladies and Gentlemen over 65, and from 2004 to 2006 he held a lectureship in contemporary dance at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen. Kortlandt continued to work as training director with Tanztheater Wuppertal until 2018, and was involved in rehearsals. In 2019, he passed on his knowledge of the role of Pylades in a restaging of Iphigenie auf Tauris at the Semper Opera in Dresden.
Text by Norbert Servos
Translated by Rachel McNicholl