Pina Bausch dies aged 68

Published June 30, 2009

Pina Bausch, the renowned German dancer and choreographer, has died at the age of 68.

Bausch founded her dance company, Wuppertal Tanztheater, in 1973 and with it produced many innovative works including Cafe Müller and Rite Of Spring, which, though created in the 1970s, were revived to critical acclaim at Sadler’s Wells last year, winning Best New Dance Production at this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards.

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells, said: “I was deeply distressed to hear the news of the death of Pina Bausch today. She was an artist of the kind that the world is only blessed with from time to time. Her repertoire of works has inspired generations of audiences and artists with an impact that is hard to overestimate. She was a dear friend to me and I will miss her greatly. There is now a big hole in my life, and that of countless others. My thoughts at this time are with Ronald her husband, Rolf her son, and her other family, the members of the Tanztheater Wuppertal who must be deeply traumatised by this loss.”

Born in 1940 in Germany, Bausch studied at Folkwang School in Essen before heading to the US to continue her dance studies at New York’s Juilliard School. She worked with Paul Sanasardo, Paul Taylor and Antony Tudor before returning to Germany in 1962 to join Kurt Jooss’s Folkwang Ballett, taking over as Artistic Director in 1969.

After founding Wuppertal Tanztheater, Bausch choreographed numerous pieces for the company including Come Dance With Me, Kontakthof, Arien, Nelken, Palermo Palermo, Masurca Fogo and Danzo. Her work was presented all over the world and reached a wider audience when her choreography was featured by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar in his 2002 film Talk To Her.

According to Wuppertal Tanztheater’s website, Bausch, who last performed at the theatre earlier this month, was diagnosed with cancer just five days before she passed away.

CB