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born in Berlin

1972 to 1975

Dancer with Gerhard Bohner in Darmstadt

From 1976

Assistant at Tanztheater Wuppertal

1977 to 1979

Dancer in four world premieres by Pina Bausch

1980 to 2016

Costume Designer at Tanztheater Wuppertal

Dec. 2, 2023

died in Wuppertal


Marion Cito

was born in 1938 in Berlin where she began dance lessons from the age of ten with Tatjana Gsovsky, who later recruited her for the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Marion Cito soon rose to become the top soloist, performing in Gsovsky works as well as choreographies by George Balanchine, Kenneth McMillan, Serge Lifar, John Cranko and Antony Tudor. Her strength was characterisation. She was also open to new ideas, dancing in the first pieces by her colleague Gerhard Bohner. In 1972, when Bohner took over as head of the Darmstadt Ballet Marion Cito went with him. But after three years the project ended due to differences with the theatre management. She now no longer wished to dance for health reasons. In 1976 Pina Bausch invited her to Wuppertal as her assistant, then persuaded her to return to the stage once more, due to casting issues, for Bluebeard, Komm, tanz mit mir (Come dance with me) and Renate wandert aus (Renate Emigrates).

From dancer to costume designer

Another change came in 1980. When Pina Bausch’s personal and professional partner Rolf Borzik died, she asked Marion Cito to take over designing the costumes. Given that the Tanztheater Wuppertal’s working methods engaged intensively with the dancers’ personalities the costumes had to be individual too and yet must also form an overall picture. They should evoke everyday life yet also exceed it. Beauty and elegance alternated with simplicity and minimalism. Alongside that there must always be space for a childish pleasure in dressing up, which generated strange and perplexing figures: a muscular man playing the god of love, shooting arrows in a tight lurex miniskirt; a man switching between cantankerous grandma and romantic ballerina in a long tutu. Men frequently appear in women’s clothes in the pieces, not for a superficial drag look but to place a question mark behind established gender roles. Clothes make the man; they are part of the role play between the sexes and they play on the social environment.

Delicate balances

For each production Marion Cito supplied a wealth of samples, buying fabric and clothes on their extended tours all over the world. Each time she was forced to rely on her intuition. Before rehearsals started, she had to sense which direction a piece might perhaps head in and plan accordingly, otherwise neither she nor the workshops could keep pace with the development of the piece. Because the pieces were assembled relatively late in the process, the practical issues only emerged towards the end: insufficient time to change, colour combinations created through constellations on stage which weren’t initially planned. Extreme flexibility and rapid reactions were required. The increasingly extensive maintenance of the repertoire was also highly labour-intensive, including urgent re-casting and, not infrequently, pregnant dancers. Her work resembled a game with endless variables and multiple unknown factors and yet over the years she developed a masterful serenity derived from a deep love of the pieces and their world view. It was only in 2016, after forty years, that Marion Cito bade farewell to the Tanztheater Wuppertal to retire. Marion Cito died in Wuppertal on 2 December 2023.

Text by Norbert Servos
Translated by Steph Morris


Piece creation

Season 1976/77
Come Dance With Me


Season 1977/78
Season 1978/79


Season 1978/79


Season 1979/80
Season 1979/80
Season 1980/81


Season 1981/82


Season 1982/83
Season 1984/85
Season 1985/86

Costumes, Collaboration

Season 1986/87


Season 1989/90
Season 1990/91
Tanzabend II


Season 1993/94
Season 1994/95

Costumes, Collaboration

Season 1995/96
Nur Du (Only You)

Costumes, Collaboration

Season 1996/97
Der Fensterputzer (The Window Washer)

Assistants to the director, Costumes

Season 1997/98
Masurca Fogo

Collaboration, Costumes

Season 1998/99
O Dido

Collaboration, Costumes

Season 1999/2000
Kontakthof. With Ladies and Gentlemen over 65

Costumes based from Rolf Borzik´s sketches, Collaboration

Season 1999/2000

Collaboration, Costumes

Season 2000/01

Collaboration, Costumes

Season 2001/02
Season 2002/03

Costumes, Collaboration

Season 2003/04
Ten Chi

Collaboration, Costumes

Season 2004/05
Rough Cut

Collaboration, Costumes

Season 2005/06
Vollmond (Full Moon)

Costumes, Collaboration

Season 2006/07
Bamboo Blues

Costumes, Collaboration

Season 2007/08
'Sweet Mambo'

Collaboration, Costumes

Season 2008/09

With each new piece I was irresistibly drawn by Marion Cito’s costumes, the way they perfectly outlined the ‘Body’, followed the dancers’ movements to the fullest and so well conveyed our friend Pina’s choreographic intention.

Yohji Yamamoto, 2014

The costumes of Marion Cito are crucial both in the aesthetics and the theatricality of Pina Bausch’s work. Through Cito’s costumes the natural elegance of the women and men of Tanztheater Wuppertal became exemplary.

They enhance the beauty of their movements, the dancers’ individual personality and the coherence of that exceptional community of Tanztheater Wuppertal.

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, 2014

From the Pina Bausch Archives
Marion Cito


Danced in

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