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born in Prague (Czechoslovakia)


Ivan Sertić engages him to Wuppertal (Germany)

1973 to 2000

member of the Tanztheater Wuppertal with numerous significant role creations


dies in Czech Republic


Jan Minařík

was born 25 August 1945 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he completed a classical dance education at the conservatoire. Initially trained as a chef, he switched careers to dance to avoid military service. His first positions were at the Prague National Theatre (1966/67) and as a soloist in Brno/Brünn (1967–69) after which he emigrated, in 1969, dancing first at the Tiroler Landestheater in Innsbruck. In 1970 he moved to the ballet company at the Wuppertaler Bühnen (Wuppertal’s combined municipal performing arts venues) where he performed as a soloist using the stage name Jean Mindo under ballet director Ivan Sertić. When Pina Bausch took over as head of the Wuppertal ballet in 1973 most of the dancers left along with Sertić. Minařík remained and soon became one of Pina Bausch’s most important colleagues and one of the most distinctive dancer/actors in the newly formed Tanztheater Wuppertal (‘Wuppertal dance theatre’).

‘Mother of the company’

Right from the start the roles he created left a strong impression, above all in The Rite of Spring and Bluebeard. No one could adopt such thoroughly unaffected yet dramatic expressions; few threw themselves with such elemental force into their roles. You felt fear and apprehension when he lay on his back as Bluebeard, dragging the panting Judith, pupated under layers and layers of old clothes, across the ground. Minařík showed how the horrifically obsessive count mutated disturbingly from perpetrator to victim in the end, a prisoner of his own obsessions. Minařík’s physical and emotional exhaustion at the close of the piece was never acted; it was always real.

Alongside his dramatic abilities, this impressive actor possessed an equally strong comic talent. Drag roles became a further speciality of Minařík’s. In Nelken (Carnations), in 1982/83, he posed for the Tanztheater Wuppertal’s ten-year anniversary photo in a flowing ball gown and a wonky wig as the ‘mother of the company’. By then he was just that, and also its trademark. Frequently his peculiar costumes created deliberate disruptions: as Cupid in a shiny miniskirt, as a lurching bank robber or a naked king, laconically remarking, ‘someone has robbed me.’

Dancer and photographer

Minařík never ironed out his strong Czech accent, instead cheerfully cultivating it and deploying it to subversive comedic effect. That took care of the laughs, but his stoic gravity also ensured that his off-kilter performances didn’t appear merely humorous. For more than a quarter of a century he was the one who took on the role of referee or silent observer in many of the pieces, an indispensable colleague of Pina Bausch’s, never satisfied with quick solutions. He had a keen eye for dramaturgical questions during the assembling of the pieces, and surprising costume ideas. Alongside his work as a dancer, he accompanied the ensemble during rehearsals and tours as a photographer. Since 1981 he has been married to another Tanztheater Wuppertal figure, Beatrice Libonati, with whom he has two children.

At 55, in 2000, Jan Minařík ended his career as dancer and actor for health reasons, leaving a gap in the Tanztheater Wuppertal it was hard to fill. He died on his farm in the Czech Republic on 26 June 2022.



Piece creation

Season 1994/95


Season 1995/96
Nur Du (Only You)


Season 1996/97
Der Fensterputzer (The Window Washer)

Assistants to the director

Season 1997/98
Masurca Fogo


Season 1998/99
O Dido


Season 1999/2000


From the Pina Bausch Archives
Jan Minařík


Danced in

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