2008 Goethe Prize Winner - Pina Bausch

Pina Bausch

Philippina "Pina" Bausch (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 collaboration with performers during the development of a piece (a style now known as Tanztheater), she became a leading influence in the field of modern dance from the 1970s on. She created the company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (de) which performs internationally.

Early life

Bausch was born in Solingen, the third and youngest child of August and Anita Bausch, who owned a restaurant with guest rooms. The restaurant provided Pina with a venue to start performing at a very young age. She would perform for all of the guests in the hotel. It was then her parents saw her potential.


At age 15, Pina was accepted into the Folkwangschule (Folkwang Academy). The school was directed by Kurt Jooss, one of the pioneers of a new dance theater form called Tanztheater, that connected dance and dramatic work or theater.

After graduation in 1959, Bausch left Germany with a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service to continue her studies at the Juilliard School in New York City in 1960, where her teachers included Antony Tudor, José Limón, Alfredo Corvino, 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 Bausch also performed with the Paul Sanasardo and Donya Feuer Dance Company and collaborated on two pieces with them in 1961. It was in New York City that Pina stated, "New York is like a jungle but at the same time it gives you a feeling of total freedom. In these two years I have found myself"

In 1962, Bausch joined Jooss' new Folkwang-Ballett (Folkwang Ballet) as a soloist and assisted Jooss on many of the pieces. In 1968, she choreographed her first piece, Fragmente (Fragments), to music by Béla Bartók.[7] In 1969, she succeeded Jooss as artistic director of the company.