Pina Bausch

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Pina Bausch
Pina Bausch.jpg
Pina Bausch (center) and Dominique Mercy (second from left) at the end of Wiesenland in 2009 in Paris.
Born(1940-07-27)27 July 1940
Solingen, Germany
Died30 June 2009(2009-06-30) (aged 68)
Wuppertal, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany
Other namesPhilippine Bausch
Alma materFolkwangschule
OccupationModern dance choreographer
AwardsPraemium Imperiale (1999), Goethe Prize (2008)
Official website
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Pina Bausch
Pina Bausch.jpg
Pina Bausch (center) and Dominique Mercy (second from left) at the end of Wiesenland in 2009 in Paris.
Born(1940-07-27)27 July 1940
Solingen, Germany
Died30 June 2009(2009-06-30) (aged 68)
Wuppertal, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany
Other namesPhilippine Bausch
Alma materFolkwangschule
OccupationModern dance choreographer
AwardsPraemium Imperiale (1999), Goethe Prize (2008)
Official website

Philippina "Pina" Bausch[1] (27 July 1940 – 30 June 2009) was a German performer of modern dance, choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director. With her unique style, a blend of movement, sound, and prominent stage sets, and with her elaborate cooperation with performers during the composition of a piece (a style now known as Tanztheater), she became a leading influence in the world of modern dance from the 1970s on.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bausch was born in Solingen, near Düsseldorf, the third and youngest child of August and Anita Bausch, who owned a restaurant with guest rooms.[3]


Bausch began dancing at a young age. In 1955 at the age of 15 she entered the Folkwangschule in Essen then directed by Germany's most influential choreographer Kurt Jooss, one of the founders of German Expressionist dance.

After graduation in 1959, Bausch left Germany with a scholarship to continue her studies at the Juilliard School in New York City in 1960, where her teachers included Antony Tudor, José Limón, Alfredo Corvino,[4] and Paul Taylor. Bausch was soon performing with Tudor at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company, and with Paul Taylor at New American Ballet. When in 1960 Taylor was invited to premiere a new work named Tablet in Spoleto, Italy, he took Bausch with him. In New York she also performed with the Paul Sanasardo and Donya Feuer Dance Company, with which she collaborated on two pieces in 1961.[5]

In 1962, Bausch joined Jooss' new Folkwang Ballett Company as a soloist and assisted Jooss on many of the pieces, before choreographing her first piece in 1968, Fragment, to music by Béla Bartók. In 1969, she succeeded Jooss as artistic director.

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch[edit]

Poster in front of Schauspielhaus Wuppertal

In 1972, Bausch started as artistic director of the Wuppertal Opera Ballet, which was later renamed as the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. The company has a large repertoire of original pieces, and regularly tours throughout the world from its home base of the Opernhaus Wuppertal.

Her best-known dance-theatre works include the melancholic Café Müller (1978), in which dancers stumble around the stage crashing into tables and chairs, and a thrilling Rite of Spring (1975), which required the stage to be completely covered with soil.[6]

Male-female interaction is a theme found throughout her work, which has been an inspiration for—and reached a wider audience through—the movie Talk to Her, directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Her pieces are constructed of short units of dialogue and action, often of a surreal nature. Repetition is an important structuring device. Her large multi-media productions often involve elaborate sets and eclectic music. In Vollmond, half of the stage is taken up by a giant, rocky hill, and the score includes everything from Portuguese music to k.d. lang.[7]

In 1983, she played the role of La Principessa Lherimia in Federico Fellini's film And the Ship Sails On.[8] The Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch made its American debut in Los Angeles as the opening performance of the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival.

In 2009, Bausch started to collaborate with film director Wim Wenders on a 3D documentary, Pina. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011.

Personal life[edit]

Bausch was married to Dutch-born Rolf Borzik, a set and costume designer who died of leukemia in 1980. Later that year she met Ronald Kay, and in 1981 they had a son, Ralf-Salomon.[9]

Awards and honours[edit]

Among the honours awarded to Bausch are the UK's Laurence Olivier Award and Japan's Kyoto Prize. In 1999 she was the recipient of the Europe Theatre Prize.[10] In 2008 the city of Frankfurt am Main awarded her its prestigious Goethe Prize. She was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.[11]

Works by Bausch were staged in June and July 2012 as a highlight of the Cultural Olympiad preceding the Olympic Games 2012 in London. The works were created when Bausch was invited to visit and stay in 10 global locations – in India, Brazil, Palermo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Budapest, Istanbul, Santiago, Rome and Japan – between 1986 and 2009. Seven of the works have not been seen in the UK.[12]


Bausch died on 30 June 2009 in Wuppertal, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany at the age of 68[13] of an unstated form of cancer (later reporting cites lung cancer after years of heavy smoking), five days after diagnosis[2] and two days before shooting was scheduled to begin for the long-planned Wim Wenders documentary. She is survived by her son Salomon.

Wenders' documentary, Pina, was released in late 2011 in the United States, and is dedicated to her memory.

Influence on other artists[edit]

Bausch's style influence performers such as David Bowie, who designed part of his 1987 Glass Spider Tour with Bausch in mind. For the tour, Bowie "wanted to bridge together some kind of symbolist theater and modern dance" and used Bausch's early work as a guideline.[14]

Works since 1973[edit]

  • 1973 Fritz
            Iphigenie auf Tauris (Iphigenia in Tauris (Goethe))
  • 1974 Zwei Krawatten (Two ties)
            Ich bring dich um die Ecke und Adagio – Fünf Lieder von Gustav Mahler (I'll take you around the corner and Adagio)
  • 1975 Orpheus und Eurydike (Orfeo ed Euridice)
            Frühlingsopfer (The Rite of Spring)
  • 1976 Die sieben Todsünden (The Seven Deadly Sins)
    (libretto: Bertolt Brecht; music: Kurt Weill; ballet with pantomime, dance and singing (soprano und manly quartet); content: parable about petit-bourgeois hypocrisy; musical style: late romantic period und jazz; genre: parody and musical)
  • 1977 Blaubart – Beim Anhören einer Tonbandaufnahme von Béla Bartóks Oper „Herzog Blaubarts Burg
    (Bluebeard – with recording of Béla Bartók's "Duke Bluebeard's Castle")
            Komm tanz mit mir (Come dance with me)
            Renate wandert aus (Renate emigrates)
  • 1978 Er nimmt sie an der Hand und führt sie in sein Schloss, die anderen folgen (He takes her by the hand and leads her to his castle, the others follow)
            Café Müller
            Kontakthof (Kontakt "contact" + Hof "court, courtyard", hence "contact court, courtyard of contact")
  • 1979 Arien (Arias)
            Keuschheitslegende (Chastity Legend)
  • 1980 1980 – Ein Stück von Pina Bausch (1980 A piece by Pina Bausch)
  • 1982 Walzer (Waltz)
  • 1984 Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehört (A cry was heard on the mountain)
  • 1985 Two Cigarettes in the Dark
  • 1986 Viktor
  • 1987 Ahnen (Suspect)
  • 1989 Palermo Palermo
  • 1991 Tanzabend II (Dance Evening)
  • 1993 Das Stück mit dem Schiff (The Piece with the Ship)
  • 1994 Ein Trauerspiel (A Tragedy)
  • 1995 Danzón
  • 1996 Nur Du (Only You)
  • 1997 Der Fensterputzer (The Window Cleaner)
  • 1998 Masurca Fogo
  • 1999 O Dido
  • 2000 Wiesenland (Meadowland)
            Kontakthof – Mit Damen und Herren ab 65 (Kontakthof – with men and women of age 65 and higher)
  • 2001 Água (Portuguese for water)
  • 2002 Für die Kinder von gestern, heute und morgen (For the children from yesterday, now and tomorrow)
  • 2003 Nefés (Turkish for breath)
  • 2004 Ten Chi
  • 2005 Rough Cut
  • 2006 Vollmond (Full Moon)
  • 2007 Bamboo Blues
  • 2008 Sweet Mambo
            Kontakthof – Mit Teenagern ab 14 (Kontakthof (?), with teenagers from 14 years and above)[15]
  • 2009 …como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si … (…like the moss on the stone…)[16]



Pina Bausch's Nelken (Carnations), 2005


  1. ^ according to some sources her birth name was Philippine, in: Pina Bausch. „Tanzen gegen die Angst“. (dancing against fear) Ullstein, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-548-60259-2, S. 27
    Nach Angaben der Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung lautet ihr Name auf dem Taufschein Philippina Bausch, in: Gudrun Norbisrath: "Die Welt ist ärmer ohne Pina Bausch", Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 1. Juli 2009
  2. ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (30 June 2009). "Pina Bausch Dies". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Pina Bausch: Dancer and choreographer whose seminal work gave an unsettling view of the human condition". The Independent (London). 3 July 2009. 
  4. ^ Lille, Dawn (2010). Equipoise:The Life and Work of Alfredo Corvino. New York, NY: Rosen. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-4358-9124-1. 
  5. ^ Luke Jennings (1 July 2009), Obituary: Pina Bausch The Guardian.
  6. ^ Chris Wiegand (30 June 2009), Pina Bausch, German choreographer and dancer, dies The Guardian
  7. ^ The Air That I Breathe Masurca Fogo, 1998
  8. ^ Cast overview on International Movie Database (fetched July 9, 2009)
  9. ^ Jennings, Luke (1 July 2009). "Obituary: Pina Bausch". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  10. ^ VII Europe Theatre Prize / Reasons Europe Theatre Prize
  11. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  12. ^ Mark Brown (9 March 2011), Pina Bausch dance cycle to be staged as part of 2012 Cultural Olympiad The Guardian.
  13. ^ Haithman, Diane (1 July 2009). "Pina Bausch dies at 68; innovative German choreographer". Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ Pareles, Jon (2 August 1987), "Bowie Creates a Spectacle", The New York Times, retrieved 28 May 2013 
  15. ^ Fest mit Pina – Internationales Tanzfestival 2008 – Programm, Stand: 25. September 2008
  16. ^ Ulrich Fischer: „Kontraste prägen Pina Bauschs neues Tanzstück“, dpa / Rhein-Zeitung, 13. Juni 2009
    „Tanztheater Pina Bausch startet zu Gastspielreise nach Chile“, News Adhoc, 16. Dezember 2009

External links[edit]