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1978Anfang der Arbeit mit Pina Bausch


Meryl Tankard

Meryl Tankard was born in Darwin, Australia, in 1955. Her father served in the Royal Australian Airforce, which meant that the family frequently moved from base to base. She took her first dance lessons in Melbourne but the family soon moved to Penang, Malaysia. The local culture and colour made a deep impression on her. Back in Australia, Tankard continued her dance education in Newcastle, New South Wales, and in Sydney before entering the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne in 1974. Only a year later, she joined the Australian Ballet, and choreographed her first piece, Birds behind Bars, for a choreography workshop in 1977. This earned her a prize which enabled her to travel to Europe, where she encountered Pina Bausch.

Sydney on the Wupper

Pina Bausch invited Tankard to join Tanztheater Wuppertal in 1978, where she quickly became one of the most impressive female performers. She delivered sharp and witty lines and gave instantly memorable performances. Between 1978 and 1984 she created roles in Café Müller, Kontakhof, Arien, Keuscheitslegende, 1980 – Ein Stück von Pina Bausch, Bandoneon and Walzer.. Pina Bausch often cast her in opposition to her compatriot Jo Ann Endicott. In 1980 Tankard played the lead in the film Quack…Für Donald – mit liebem Gruss, and in 1982 she co-wrote and co-starred in Sydney an der Wupper, which won the award for best short film at the Berlin International Film Festival. In subsequent years, Tankard moved back and forth between Australia and Europe. On the one hand, she kept up guest appearances with Tanztheater Wuppertal and worked with Lindsay Kemp, while on the other she appeared in Australian TV productions like The Pack of Women and Dancing Daze. She continued to choreograph her own work as well.


Tankard’s 1988 solo Two Feet, created in close collaboration with photographer and video artist Regis Lansac, marked a turning point. In 1989 she was asked to set up and lead a company in Canberra. It was here, at what became Meryl Tankard Company, that Banshee (1989), VX18504 (1989), Nuti (1990), Kikimora (1990), Court of Flora (1990), Chants de Mariage I and II (1991–1992) and Songs with Mara (1992) were created. In 1993 she became director of the Australian Dance Theatre and moved to Adelaide, where Furioso (1993), Aurora (1994), Possessed (1995), Rasa (1996), Seulle (1997) and Inuk (1997) were created. Guest performances all over the world followed, and they became the first Australian company to perform at the famous Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.
In 1999 she left Adelaide to work as a freelance choreographer with different companies, in Lyon, London, New York, Sydney, The Hague, Leipzig, Paris and Antwerp. In 2010 she graduated from the Australian Film Television and Radio School after a year studying film directing, during which time she made two short films, Moth and Mad. In 2015 the 29-minute documentary Michelle’s Story, co-produced by Tankard, won several awards for best director and best film. In 2019 she re-created her solo piece Two Feet for Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova, and in 2020 she created Zizani for Restless Dance Theatre as well as Skin Deep for the LGBTI+ community. Her most recent work, Kairos, was created for the 2023 Sydney Festival.
Tankard has received many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) and an Outstanding Choreography Award from the Australian Dance Awards. In 2019 she was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia.

Text: Norbert Servos
Translation: Rachel McNicholl


Dans les archives Pina Bausch
Meryl Tankard


Saison 1980/81
Saison 1981/82

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