2009/06/30

Philippine "Pina" Bausch

July 27, 1940 – June 30, 2009

Bausch began dancing from a young age. In 1955 she began studying at the Folkwang Academy in Essen directed by Germany's then most influential choreographer Kurt Jooss, one of the founders of German Expressionist dance. After graduation she won a scholarship to continue her studies at the Juilliard School in New York City in 1960, where her teachers included Anthony Tudor, José Limón, and Paul Taylor. In New York she performed with the Paul Sanasardo and Donya Feuer Dance Company, the New American Ballet, and became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company.

In 1962, Bausch joined Kurt Jooss's new Folkwang Ballett Company as a soloist and assisted Jooss on many of the pieces, before choreographing her first piece in 1968, and in 1969 succeeded Jooss as artistic director. In 1972, Bausch started as artistic director of the then Wuppertal Opera Ballet (later renamed the "Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch)."

Bausch's work is also known for infusing humor with sadness. 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. For example, in Masurca Fogo half the stage is taken up by a giant, rocky hill, and the score includes everything from Portuguese music to K. D. Lang.

In 1983, she played the role of La Principessa Lherimia in Federico Fellini's And the Ship Sails On.

Bausch was married to Dutch-born Rolf Borzik, a set and costume designer who died in 1980. Borzik had strongly influenced the visual style of the Tanztheater from the very beginning and crucially supported Bausch though the early years until the company began to receive international recognition shortly before his death.

Bausch was awarded in 2008 with the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt-am-Main. She died in Wuppertal, Germany, aged 68.

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