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Biography

Pina Bausch

Born in 1940 into a publican family in Solingen, she discovered her love of dance at an early age and joined children’s ballet classes where her talent was recognised. In 1955 she began a professional dance education at the Folkwang School in Essen, led by Kurt Jooss, a pioneer of the revolutionary 1920s/30s German movement Ausdruckstanz (‘expressive dance’), completing the course in 1959. The most important values she took from her work with Jooss were ‘honesty and precision’, as she later put it: honesty in approaching reality and precision in developing form. After two years in New York, initially with a scholarship for the renowned Juilliard School of Music, then as a dancer at the New American Ballet and at the Metropolitan Opera House Ballet, she returned to Essen in 1962 on Jooss’ request as a soloist at the newly founded Folkwang Dance Studio. Here she worked with Jooss, Antony Tudor, Lucas Hoving, Hans Züllig and above all Jean Cébron. At the end of the 1960s she gained attention with her first choreographies, including Im Wind der Zeit (‘in the wind of time’), for which she won first prize in the Cologne choreography competition.

Wuppertal

It was Arno Wüstenhöfer, the new director of the Wuppertaler Bühnen (Wuppertal’s combined municipal performing arts venues), who hired Pina Bausch as choreographer there, starting in the 1973/74 season. The times had changed. The new Regietheater (direction-orientated rather than text-based theatre) in Germany had altered expectations of dance too. It needed to be closer to real life, to develop new forms. Pina Bausch changed the name of her ensemble from ‘ballet’ to ‘Tanztheater’ (‘dance theatre’). The clue was in the title. She tested out every possible genre, called her pieces ‘dance opera’, ‘revue’, even ‘operetta’ and began combining means of expression from both dance and theatre. Her choreographic language was unequivocal, clear. Together with her life partner Rolf Borzik, who created the costumes and sets until his death in 1980, she created a new aesthetic. Later she continued this work with Peter Pabst (sets) and Marion Cito (costumes). Together with her musical colleagues Matthias Burkert and Andreas Eisenschneider she continually sought out new, unusual music for her freely collaged pieces, which used poetic images and dances to address the fears and desires which drive human beings. The search for love, affinity and security became a central motif of her oeuvre, for which she developed new working methods. She asked her dancers questions, 800 to 1000 during the research and development on each piece, and out of 40 to 50 of the answers she composed her highly emotional, moving excursions into the inner realms of desire. Here too, she was to rewrite dance history.

By the time of her death, in 2009, she had created over 50 works and achieved world recognition for her art. Despite criticism at the start, she succeeded in establishing dance theatre as a new genre, influencing the development of dance internationally. She was awarded the greatest prizes and honours worldwide for her revolutionary redefinition of dance. Few other twentieth century choreographers were able to open up new freedoms for dance as she did, liberating it from its shackles with ‘superficial beauty’ and leading it towards real life. Her ground-breaking style remains influential to this day.

Text by Norbert Servos
Translated by Steph Morris


Gallery


Piece creation

season 1966/67Fragment

Choreography

season 1967/68Im Wind der Zeit

Choreography

season 1969/70Nachnull (After Zero)

Choreography

season 1970/71Aktionen für Tänzer

Choreography

season 1970/71PHILIPS 836 885 DSY

Choreography

season 1971/72Tannhäuser Bacchanal

Choreography

season 1972/73Wiegenlied

Choreography

season 1973/74Fritz

Choreography

season 1973/74Iphigenie auf Tauris

Set and costume design, Choreography

season 1973/74Zwei Krawatten

Choreography

season 1974/75Adagio – Five Songs by Gustav Mahler

Choreography

season 1974/75I'll Do You In…

Choreography

season 1974/75Fliegenflittchen

Choreography

season 1974/75Orpheus und Eurydike

Choreography

season 1975/76The Rite of Spring

Choreography

season 1975/76Wind From West

Choreography

season 1975/76The Second Spring

Choreography

season 1975/76The Seven Deadly Sins

Choreography

season 1976/77Bluebeard. While Listening to a Tape Recording of Béla Bartók's Opera "Duke Bluebeard's Castle"

Direction and choreography

season 1976/77Come Dance With Me

Direction and choreography

season 1977/78Renate wandert aus (Renate Emigrates)

Direction and choreography

season 1977/78He Takes Her by The Hand and Leads Her Into the Castle, The Others Follow

Direction

season 1977/78Café Müller

Choreography

season 1978/79Kontakthof

Direction and choreography

season 1978/79Arien

Direction and choreography

season 1979/80Keuschheitslegende (Legend of Chastity)

Direction and choreography

season 1979/801980 – A Piece by Pina Bausch

Direction and choreography

season 1980/81Bandoneon

Direction and choreography

season 1981/82Walzer

Direction and choreography

season 1982/83Nelken (Carnations)

Direction and choreography

season 1983/84Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehört (On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard)

Direction and choreography

season 1984/85Two Cigarettes in the Dark

Direction and choreography

season 1985/86Viktor

Choreography

season 1986/87Ahnen

Direction and Choreography

season 1989/90Palermo Palermo

Direction and choreography

season 1990/91Tanzabend II

Direction and choreography

season 1992/93Das Stück mit dem Schiff (The Piece with the Ship)

Direction and choreography

season 1993/94Ein Trauerspiel

Direction and choreography

season 1994/95Danzón

Direction and choreography

season 1995/96Nur Du (Only You)

Direction and choreography

season 1996/97Der Fensterputzer (The Window Washer)

Direction and choreography

season 1997/98Masurca Fogo

Direction and choreography

season 1997/98Bluebeard's Castle

Direction and choreography

season 1998/99O Dido

Direction and choreography

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

Direction and choreography

season 1999/2000Wiesenland

Direction and choreography

season 2000/01Água

Direction and choreography

season 2001/02For the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Direction and choreography

season 2002/03Nefés

Direction and choreography

season 2003/04Ten Chi

Direction and choreography

season 2004/05Rough Cut

Direction and choreography

season 2005/06Vollmond (Full Moon)

Direction and choreography

season 2006/07Bamboo Blues

Direction and choreography

season 2007/08'Sweet Mambo'

Direction and choreography

season 2008/09Kontakthof. With Teenagers over 14

Direction and choreography

season 2008/09"... como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si ..." (Like Moss on the Stone)

Direction and choreography


Premieres

Season 1966/67

PieceFragment
Date5 July 1967
VenueFolkwang Hochschule Essen
Essen
Germany
DanceErika Fabry
Hans Pop
Hiltrud Blanck
Jonathan Thorpe
Michael Diekamp
Pina Bausch
Veronika Hoffmann-Strobel
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Season 1967/68

Season 1970/71

PieceAktionen für Tänzer
Date12 June 1971
VenueWuppertal
Germany
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Season 1970/71

PiecePHILIPS 836 885 DSY
Date31 July 1971
VenueConnecticut College
New London
USA
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Season 1977/78

PieceCafé Müller
Date20 May 1978
VenueOpernhaus Wuppertal
Wuppertal
Germany
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From the archives
Pina Bausch

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