women in the arts

Pina Bausch

This weeks Illustrated Women in History was illustrated by Nadia Linek

Pina Bausch was a German performer of modern dance, choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director. She broke down the boundaries between ballet and theatre with her choreographed works incorporating dance, speech, music, and fantastical sets.

Bausch was born in Solingen to August and Anita Bausch who owned a guest house. This gave her the opportunity to perform from a young age and she would stage her own performances, while also dancing with the Solingen children’s ballet. She then trained at Folkwang School under the direction of Kurt Jooss. Jooss was one of the pioneers of a new dance theatre form called Tanztheater, which connected dance and dramatic work or theatre.

In 1960, Bausch continued her studies at the Juilliard School in New York City through a scholarship provided by the German Academic Exchange Service. After two years in New York, during which she became a member of the New American Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, she returned to Germany to join Jooss’ new Folkwang-Ballett (Folkwang Ballet) as a soloist, and began to choreograph her own pieces, starting with Fragmente (Fragments). In 1969, she became the artistic director of the company.

A few years later, Bausch became the artistic director of the Wuppertal Opera ballet, (later the Tanztheater Wuppertal). Her best-known dance-theatre works include melancholic Café Müller (1978), in which dancers stumble around the stage crashing into tables and chairs with their eyes closed, and Frühlingsopfer (The Rite of Spring) for which the stage was covered with soil.

Bausch was honoured with a range of awards for her work, including the UK’s Laurence Olivier Award and Japan’s Kyoto Prize. She influenced a range of performers, including David Bowie, who used her as inspiration for his 1987 Glass Spider Tour.

Bausch died in 2009, having become as one of the most significant choreographers of the twentieth century.

Sources here, here and here

You can see more of Nadia’s work on her website here

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