Born as Philippine Bausch in 1940 in Solingen; under her nickname Pina she will later achieve international reputation with her Tanztheater based in nearby Wuppertal. Her parents run an inn as part of a hotel in Solingen, where Pina, like her siblings, lent a hand. She learns to observe people; above all, what moves people deep down. In her later work small pieces of this early childhood environment seem to resound: the sound of music, people coming and going, telling of their longing for happiness. But also the early experience of war is reflected in the pieces, as sudden outbursts of panic and fear of an anonymous threat.
Following first experiences at Solingen's children's ballet, at the age of 14 Pina Bausch started her dance training at the Folkwang Hochschule under Kurt Jooss. Before and after the Second World War, Jooss was a distinguished representative of the German modern dance movement, which had freed itself from the shackles of classical ballet. In his teaching, however, he reconciled the free spirit of dance revolutionaries with the principles of ballet. This is how the young dance student learned creative freedom as well as reaching proficiency in a clear form. Also important was the proximity to other arts, which are also taught at the Folkwang Hochschule: opera, music, drama, sculpture, painting, photography, design, and more. This wholly open approach will influence the choice of methods in her work as choreographer.
In 1958 she was awarded the Folkwang-Price and armed with a grant from the
German Academic Exchange Service, she leaves for one year as a special student at the Juilliard School of Music to New York. The city is a Mecca of dance, where classical ballet is being reinvented by the likes of George Balanchine, as well as the development of modern dance. Pina Bausch's teachers include Antony Tudor, José Limón, and dancers of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Alfredo Corvino, and Margaret Craske. As a dancer she worked with Paul Taylor, Paul Sanasardo and Donya Feuer.
Wann immer möglich besucht sie Vorstellungen, nimmt
alle Strömungen in sich auf. Begeistert von der Vielfalt des künstlerischen Lebens in New York verlängert sie ihren Aufenthalt um ein
weiteres Jahr; diesmal jedoch muss sie ihren Unterhalt selbst
finanzieren. Antony Tudor engagiert sie an die Metropolitan Opera.
Die Nähe zur Oper, der Respekt vor der Musiktradition wird in ihrem
späteren Werk ebenso eine Rolle spielen wie etwa die Liebe zum Jazz.
Die in Deutschland noch strenge Unterscheidung zwischen sogenannter
"ernster" und "unterhaltender" Musik wird für sie keine Rolle spielen.
Jede Musik, sofern sie tiefe Gefühle ausdrückt, hat den gleichen Wert.
Whenever possible she visits shows, absorbing all the trends. Enthused by the variety of artistic life in New York she extends her stay by another year; this time however she has to pay for her upkeep herself. Antony Tudor engages her at the Metropolitan Opera. The proximity to the opera and the respect for musical tradition will play a part in her later work as will her love for jazz. The strict distinction between so-called "serious" and "entertaining" music in Germany will play no part for her. All music, as long as it invokes deep feelings, has the same value.
After two years Kurt Jooss asks her return back to Essen. He has succeeded in reviving the Folkwang Ballet, later known as the Folkwang Dance Studio. Pina Bausch dances older and new works by Jooss, and assists him with choreography. In the absence of sufficient works for the Folkwang Dance Studio, she begins to choreograph herself, developing pieces such as "Fragment " or "Im Wind der Zeit" for which she receives the first prize at the Choreographic Competition in Cologne in 1969. As a guest, she choreographs first works for Wuppertal, which are performed by members of the Folkwang Dance Studio: "Aktionen für Tänzer" in 1971 and " Tannhäuser-Bacchanal " in 1972. For the 1973/74 season she is hired by the Wuppertal Director Arno Wüstenhöfer as head of the Wuppertal Ballet, which she quickly renames the Tanztheater. The name, developed back in the 1920s by Rudolf von Laban, is a statement. It stands for a disengagement from mere dance routine and a complete freedom in the choice and means of expression. In quick succession Pina develops new genres. With the two Gluck operas, "Iphigenia in Tauris" (1974) and "Orpheus and Eurydice" (1975) she develops the first two dance operas. In "Ich bring dich um die Ecke ... " (1974), she enters the trivial world of pop music, "Come dance with me" uses old folk songs, "Renate emigrates" (both 1977) plays with clichés of the operetta. Her choreography of Igor Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du Printemps"(1975) was to become her milestone. The physical immediacy and emotional impact of this piece are to mark her work.
From Kurt Jooss, she has learned "honesty and accuracy". The choreographer understands how to take advantage of both virtues for a dramatic energy, which was unknown until then. During the first years in Wuppertal this leads to upsetting the press and public. The confrontation with the true motives behind movement hurts. The sadness and loneliness in "Bluebeard - When listening to a tape recording of Bela Bartok's opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle '" (1977), in which passages of music are repeated again and again, which many feel as torture. But from the beginning, Pina Bausch displays next to her talent for drama also humor, as in the Brecht / Weill double-bill "The Seven Deadly Sins" and "Do not be afraid" from 1976. In the second part, collaged freely together and showing men in women's clothes as the choreographer plays with entrenched stereotypes, is both entertaining and amusing.
In 1978 Pina Bausch changed the way she worked. Invited by director Peter Zadek in Bochum to develop her version of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the choreographer finds herself caught out. A large proportion of her own ensemble no longer want to continue with her work, as there is little conventional dancing involved in it. So she casts the Bochum production with only four dancers, five actors and a singer. As she is unable to use choreographed steps with this cast, she begins to ask her performers associative questions on the subject of the piece. When the result of this joint search is premiered on 22 April 1978 in Bochum, under the long title "He takes her by the hand and leads her into the castle, followed by the others", it is almost drowned under the storm of protest from the audience. However, in using this unusual move, Pina Bausch has finally found a shape for her work, with its dreamlike, poetic images and language of movement being the reason for the rapid onset of global success. Starting with the basic human emotions, with the fears and needs as well as the wishes and desires, the Wuppertal Tanztheater not only is understood worldwide, but also triggers an international choreographic revolution.
The secret of this success may be that the Tanztheater of Pina Bausch risks a fresh look at reality and at the same time for daydreaming. It takes the audience in their everyday life seriously and equally encourages their hope that everything will turn out well. For their part they are called upon to take responsibility themselves. All the men and women in Pina Bausch's pieces can do is test with utmost accuracy and honesty what brings each closer to happiness and what pushes them away from it; patented remedies are not provided. But they always send home their audiences in the knowledge that - with all its ups and downs - life can be survived.
In January 1980, Pina Bausch's longtime life partner Rolf Borzik died. In the early years his stage designs and costumes significantly influenced the appearance of the Tanztheater. Following his death, Peter Pabst (stage) and Marion Cito (costumes) took over his work. The created spaces are poetic, often moving the outside inside and the stage expanded into a landscape. These are physical spaces, which are changing movements. Water and rain let the bodies shine through the clothes; soil turns every movement into a Herculean task, leaves trace the steps of the dancers. The variation of the spaces ranges from period rooms to the bare wooden floorboards of Japanese minimalism. The costumes can be as elegant as they are bizarre - from a great evening gown to the child's delight in disguise. Just like the pieces, the stage and costumes reflect everyday life and beyond, but always in the direction of a wonderful beauty and ease. What in infancy is often overlooked: the humor and beauty, even if it lies in the seemingly ugly, is understood better the passing of the years. Gradually what it is about the Tanztheater it becomes clear: not a provocation but in Pina Bausch's words - "a space where we can meet each other. "
The international development of the Tanztheater resulted in numerous co-productions: "Viktor", "Palermo Palermo" and "O Dido" in cooperation with Italy, "Dance Evening II (Tanzabend II)" in Madrid, "A tragedy (Ein Trauerspiel)" in Vienna, "Only You (Nur Du)" in Los Angeles, "The Window Cleaner (Der Fensterputzer)" in Hong Kong, "Masurca Fogo" in Lisbon, "Meadows (Wiesenland)" in Budapest, "Água" in Brazil, "Nefés in Istanbul," Ten Chi" in Tokyo," Rough Cut" in Seoul," Bamboo Blues " in India, and lastly a new piece 2009, a co-production with Chile, for which Pina Bausch will no longer be able to give a title. The work, which at first was so controversial, has finally developed into a world theatre, which can hold all the cultural colors and treats everyone with the same respect. It is not a theatre that wants to teach, but one that wants to create a fundamental experience of life that every viewer is invited to share with the dancers. This world theatre is generous, relaxed in its perception of the world, and very charming to its audience. It offers to make peace with life and trusts in its own courage and own strength. As a mediator between cultures, it is an ambassador of peace and mutual understanding. It is a theatre that keeps itself free of any ideology and dogma, which looks at the world as prejudice-free as possible and takes note of life - in all its facets. From the discoveries of that journey, which begins anew with each piece, from the many small scenes and – more and more with each passing year - a world of great complexity, full of surprising twists adds itself to the dances. The Tanztheater Wuppertal feels obliged to only one principle: the people and thus a humanism that knows no boundaries.
For her work Pina Bausch receives numerous awards and honours, including the Bessie Award in New York (1984), the German Dance Award (1995), the Berlin Theatre Award (1997), the Praemium Imperiale in Japan (1999), the Nijinsky Award in Monte Carlo, the Golden Mask in Moscow (2005), the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt / Main (2008). In June 2007, she is presented with a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for her life's work, and in November of same year the prestigious Kyoto Prize.
The German Government honors her with the Great Cross of Merit (1997), the French with the title Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et de Lettres (1991) and Knight of the Legion of Honour (2003). Many universities give her an honorary doctorate.
On 30 June 2009 Pina Bausch's life journey ends. Her work shows her as one of the most important choreographers of the 20th Century.
Works by Pina Bausch
1973 IPHIGENIE AUF TAURIS (IPHIGENIA IN TAURIS)
1974 ICH BRING DICH UM DIE ECKE (I'LL DO YOU IN)
1974 ADAGIO – FIVE SONGS BY GUSTAV MAHLER
1975 ORPHEUS AND EURYDIKE
WIND VON WEST
DER ZWEITE FRÜHLING
LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS (THE RITE OF SPRING)
1976 DIE SIEBEN TODSÜNDEN (THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS)
1977 BLAUBART – BEIM ANHÖREN EINER TONBANDAUFNAHME VON BÉLA BARTÓKS "HERZOG BLAUBARTS BURG"
(BLUEBEARD – WHILE LISTENING TO A TAPED RECORDING OF BELA BARTOK'S "DUKE BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE")
1977 KOMM TANZ MIT MIR (COME DANCE WITH ME)
1977 RENATE WANDERT AUS (RENATE EMIGRATES)
1978 ER NIMMT SIE AN DER HAND UND FÜHRT SIE IN DAS SCHLOSS, DIE ANDEREN FOLGEN...
(HE TAKES HER BY THE HAND AND LEADS HER INTO THE CASTLE, THE OTHERS FOLOW…)
1978 CAFÉ MÜLLER
1979 ARIEN (ARIAS)
1979 KEUSCHHEITSLEGENDE (LEGEND OF CHASTITY)
1980 1980 – A PIECE BY PINA BAUSCH
1982 NELKEN (CARNATIONS)
1984 AUF DEM GEBIRGE HAT MAN EIN GESCHREI GEHÖRT (ON THE MOUNTAIN A CRY WAS HEARD)
1985 TWO CIGARETTES IN THE DARK
Works by Pina Bausch
1989 PALERMO PALERMO
1990 DIE KLAGE DER KAISERIN
1991 TANZABEND II
1993 DAS STÜCK MIT DEM SCHIFF (THE PIECE WITH THE SHIP)
1994 EIN TRAUERSPIEL
1996 NUR DU (ONLY YOU)
1997 DER FENSTERPUTZER (THE WINDOW CLEANER)
1998 MASURCA FOGO
1999 O DIDO
2002 FÜR DIE KINDER VON GESTERN, HEUTE UND MORGEN
(FOR THE CHILDREN OF YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW)
2004 TEN CHI
2005 ROUGH CUT
2006 VOLLMOND (FULL MOON)
2007 BAMBOO BLUES
2008 SWEET MAMBO
2009 "...COMO EL MUSGUITO EN LA PIEDRA, AY SI, SI, SI ..."