|1973 bis 1987|
membre du Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
artiste invitée Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
Josephine Ann Endicott
was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1950. When she started taking ballet lessons at the age of seven, her father – a pharmaceuticals sales rep – announced drily, “Too dear”. It was Jo Ann’s mother who did her utmost to nurture her daughter’s love of dance, because she herself had grown up with three sisters who were mad about dancing. It didn’t take long for Jo Ann’s teachers to recognise her talent, and she was sent for professional ballet training at the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne. In 1967 she joined Australian Ballet’s corps de ballet, where she met famous ballerinas of the day who were invited to perform with them, including Margot Fonteyn, Carla Fracci and Maya Plisetskaya. She got to work with great choreographers such as Anthony Tudor, Frederick Ashton, Paul Taylor, Leonide Massine and Rudolf Nurejew, who made the greatest impression on her. However, her position in the company was precarious. She did not conform to the contemporary ideal of a ballerina – her face was considered too round, her body too feminine, her personality not suited. Nureyev advised her to go to Europe.
From London to Wuppertal
Endicott went to London in 1972, where Pina Bausch discovered her – more or less by chance – a year later, and immediately signed her up for the new Tanztheater Wuppertal. The young Australian was a perfect fit. Pina Bausch’s newly formed ensemble did not pander to the standardised models of ballet, wanting instead to show people “as they really are” – tall or short, plump or slight. The idea of the ensemble was to gather as many different characters as possible, each of whom should be seen as a unique individual. With her unpretentious personality and direct manner, Jo Ann Endicott fitted right in. And she had the makings of a protagonist. The Australian’s break-through came when Pina Bausch cast her in the leading role of Anna I in the Brecht–Weill double bill The Seven Deadly Sins in 1976. From then on, through the early years of Tanztheater Wuppertal, Endicott became the public face and the best ad for the company. She threw herself unreservedly into every role, whether in Come Dance With Me, Renate wandert aus (Renate emigrates), the Macbeth project, Kontakthof, Arien, Keuschheitslegende (Legend of Chastity) or Walzer. Not only was Pina Bausch’s language of movement practically made for her, Endicott could also act, laugh, shriek, wail, rant, even belch on command. She could portray a dreamy girl as convincingly as a screeching nag, act the playful comedian as well as the haughty lady at a dinner party. Above all, her emotional intensity lent each piece great credibility. Jo Ann Endicott had the ability to give her all on stage. She didn’t pretend to be someone – she became the person she was playing.
Change of scene
In 1987, emotionally drained, she took a break from Tanztheater Wuppertal and did not return until 1994, initially as a guest artist. She had already begun to collaborate with theatre directors – with Hansgünther Heyme in 1979, then with Peter Palitzsch (1991) and Wolf Seesemann (1995) – and she considered this very important for her artistic development. She published two books about her work with Pina Bausch: Ich bin eine anständige Frau (“A respectable woman”) in 1999, and Warten auf Pina (“Waiting for Pina”) in 2009. Back with Tanztheater Wuppertal, she began to work more and more as rehearsal director and on ensuring that the pieces were passed on to the next generation.
Her restagings of Kontakthof. With Ladies and Gentlemen over 65 with Beatrice Libonati (1999/2000) and Kontakthof. With Teenagers over 14 with Bénédicte Billiet (2009/2010) were major successes. From 2007 to 2015 Endicott became a full-time employee of Tanztheater Wuppertal again and was responsible for several international restagings of Pina Bausch pieces, including The Rite of Spring and Orpheus und Eurydike at the Paris Opera. In 2020, she restaged The Rite of Spring with an ensemble of dancers from various African countries, produced in École des Sables, Senegal.
Among other awards for her work, Endicott was conferred with the honour of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2008, and Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2012. As one of the original members of Pina Bausch’s company, Endicott particularly enjoys the opportunity that each restaging presents to train new, junior colleagues as the assistants and rehearsal directors of the future.
Text by Norbert Servos
Translated by Rachel McNicholl