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German Choreographer Pina Bausch Dies, Age 68

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Legendary German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch died suddenly today (30 June 2009) at the age of 68 in her home town of Wuppertal, Germany, having reportedly been diagnosed with cancer just five days ago.

The announcement of her death was made by Wuppertal Tanztheater, the German dance company Bausch founded in 1973. Under Bausch, the company developed an international reputation for pioneering pieces such as Rite of Spring and Cafe Muller, which were revived last year at London’s Sadler’s Wells and won a Laurence Olivier Award earlier this year.

Those were the latest productions in a long line of visits Bausch made to Sadler’s Wells over the years. Sadler’s Wells artistic director Alistair Spaulding said that he was “deeply distressed” by the news of Bausch’s death. “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.”

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England also added his tribute: "Pina Bausch was a unique artist whose work gave us sometimes joyous and sometimes painful insights into the human condition. She has inspired audiences and artists the world over and was many times a welcome visitor to Britain. Our thoughts are with her family and the members of the Tanztheater Wuppertal who so brilliantly realised her work over many years."

Bausch was born on 27 July 1940 in Solingen, Germany and began dancing at a young age. After studying at the Julliard School in New York, she returned to Germany in the early 1960s to join Kurt Jooss’ Folkwang Ballett, first as a dancer and then taking over as artistic director in 1969 before going on to found her own company at Wuppertal.

Considered one of contemporary dance’s most provocative and innovative choreographers, Baush’s works, often distinguished by their lack of narrative and emotive movements, have been presented around the world and has influenced a whole generation of choreographers, dancers, theatre makers and other artists. Notably, the Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar featured her choreography in his 2002 Oscar-winning film Talk to Her.

NOTE: A more in-depth feature about the life and work of Pina Bausch will appear in our soon-to-be-launched Dance section.


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