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Bausch, Pina

The Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance

Bausch, Pina 


German dancer, choreographer, and *manager. Bausch studied with two masters of expressive ballet: Kurt Jooss in Germany and Antony Tudor in New York. She also studied modern *dance. Bausch succeeded Jooss as director of the Folkwang Ballet in 1969 and in 1973 founded the Wuppertal Tanztheater. Heir to the German Ausdruckstanz (expressive dance) movement of the 1920s and 1930s, she developed a neo-*expressionist form of dance-theatre that often centred on issues of *gender, violence, and, more generally, human angst. Episodic and plotless, her dance-theatre pieces were emotionally intense. Her *mise-en-scène included extravagant sets (a stage covered with water, a dirt mountain), props (10,000 artificial carnations), practicables (a construction that turns two dancers into a hippopotamus), and *costumes (at times, *cross-dressing); *animal performers (sheep, fish, dogs); spoken text; both popular and classical recorded music; film projections; and dancing that is extremely high energy and virtuosic, though not following the specialized technique of any dance genre. Café Müller (1978) still impressed London audiences in 2009, when it won an Olivier Award.

Sally Banes