|begin of collaboration with Pina Bausch
Italian dancer Beatrice Libonati was born in 1954 in Mons, Belgium. Her father was an Italian sculptor, her mother a Belgian fashion designer. She began her dance education at the Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome at the age of twelve, graduating in dance, pedagogy and choreography. After secondary school, she also studied “Lettere e Spettaccoli” at La Sapienza university, but dance was always her first love. She had even choreographed small pieces with her classmates while still at school. Among her teachers were Harald Lander, Zarko Prebil, Margarita Trayanova, Aurel von Milloss, Luisa Grinberg, Juan Corelli, Steve Paxton, Jean Cébron, Giancarlo Bellini, Betty Jones and Fritz Lüdin (Limón Technique), Fred Mertens, Achille Perilli (Set Design), Margherita Abbruzzese (Visual Arts), Alberto Testa (History of Art), as well as Massimo Coen and Mauro Bortolotti (Music). In 1975, Jean Cébron taught her his solo piece, Modèle pour un Mobile, which she performed with the group “I danzatori scalzi” in the academy and on tour. In 1966–67 she danced several solo parts in the academy’s “Gruppo stabile” and worked with Perilli, Lucia Latour and Sylvano Bussotti on the production Altro/Ics for Teatro Altro Spazio in Rome. In 1977 she performed Mobile in the Festival di Spoleto, danced in Giancarlo Bellini’s Vivaldi, and was invited to perform a solo of her own at the theatre festival in Nancy.
Wuppertal via Essen
Jean Cébron had been encouraging Libonati to move to Essen for some time, and she got a scholarship to work with Susanne Linke in the Folkwang Dance Studio. Pina Bausch soon discovered her and signed her up to Tanztheater Wuppertal in 1978. Libonati stayed with the company, as dancer and artistic assistant, until 2006. In Bausch’s Blaubart – Beim Anhören einer Tonbandaufnahme von Béla Bartóks Oper „Herzog Blaubarts Burg“ (Bluebeard), Judith became her signature role, and she went on to become one of the company’s best-known faces in later pieces. Libonati could dance with abandon without drifting into pathos. The petite, fragile-looking Italian was actually very strong and had considerable stamina, and she lent each of her performances a clearly defined presence. She could portray girlish lightheartedness or stubborn persistence equally well. Along with her husband, Jan Minarík, Libonati became one of the key figures in Tanztheater Wuppertal for many years.
Versatile and multi-talented
During her time with Pina Bausch, Libonati kept developing other talents. Between 2001 and 2005 she created four solo shows of her own as well as choreographies for other dancers and groups at international level. She developed a whole series of solos and duets for dancers Elena Kofinà and Irina Castillo. Other talents include painting, playing music, and writing. She has published several books of poetry and sketches over the years. Florentine director Aldo Redi di Criscio staged interpretations of Libonati’s poetry, performed by actors at his Bausette Theatre, in 2012 and 2014. In 2021 Libonati worked with Neapolitan director Giuseppe Sollazzo on his play Una sera ascoltando un vecchio tango mi sono addormentato e ho sognato Pina Bausch (“One evening listening to an old tango I fell asleep and dreamt of Pina Bausch”), which was presented at Campania Teatro Festival, and she created a piece for four dancers for the Paesaggi del Corpo festival in Velletri. Also in 2021, she presented her seventh book, Zwei Sterne warteten in Fiumicino auf mich (“Two stars were waiting for me in Fiumicino”), with readings, dance and song at the Wuppertal Citykirche.
Text by Norbert Servos
Translated by Rachel McNicholl