2007Arts and PhilosophyTheater, Cinema
Pina Bausch photo

Pina Bausch

  • Germany / 1940-2009
  • Choreographer and Artistic Director

"A choreographer who has broken down the boundaries between dance and theater and pioneered a new direction for theatrical art"

Applying an original choreographical approach that delves into the fundamental motives of human action, Ms. Pina Bausch has established a creative idiom that taps deeply into the sensitivity of both performers and their audiences. At the same time, she has broken down the boundaries between dance and theater, and opened up a new direction in theatrical art.


Brief Biography

Born in Solingen, Germany
Study at the Folkwangschule in Essen, Germany with Kurt Jooss as director
Study at the Juilliard School of Music, New York on scholarship of the German Academical Exchange Service(DAAD) for the U.S.A., Dancer of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, under the direction of Antony Tudor
Return to Germany. Became member of the Folkwang-Ballett, newly founded by Kurt Jooss
Won first prize at the International Choreographic Competition in Cologne with "Im Wind der Zeit"
Director and choreographer of the newly founded Tanztheater Wuppertal
Director of the Dance Department of the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen
Artistic director of the Folkwang Tanzstudio

Selected Awards and Honors

Award of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) German Center at the World Theatre Day
Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France / Una Vita per la Danza, Positano, Italy
UNESCO Pablo Picasso Medal
Harry Edmonds Award from the International House in New York, U.S.A.
Europe Theatre Prize/ Praemium Imperiale, Japan
Laurence Olivier Award ,U.K.

Selected Works and Performances


“Fragment” (the first choreography)


“Frühlingsopfer” including the “Le Sacre du Printemps” (The Rite of Spring)


“Die sieben Todsünden” (The Seven Deadly Sins)/ “Fürchtet Euch nicht” (Don’t Be Afraid)


“Café Müller”, “Kontakthof”


“Nelken” (Carnations)


La Teatro Fenice in Venice held a festival that was dedicated to Pina Bausch alone and introduced 10 of her works to the Italian public




“Das Stück mit dem Schiff” (The Piece with the Ship)


A program for 20th anniversary of Tanztheater Wuppertal with 13 works of Pina Bausch


“Der Fensterputzer” (The Window Washer)


“Nefés” (Breath)


“Vollmond” (Fullmoon)


"A choreographer who has broken down the boundaries between dance and theater and pioneered a new direction for theatrical art"

Applying an original choreographical approach that delves into the fundamental motives of human action, Ms. Pina Bausch is a choreographer and artistic director who has established a creative idiom that taps deeply into the sensitivity of both performers and audiences, and who has broken down the conventional barriers between dance and theater to open a new direction in theatrical art.

Ms. Bausch who has remained vigorously active as artistic director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal since 1973, followed in her early years the precepts of German expressionist dance, which pursues social and human realities, and still she fused new modes of physical and theatrical expression of the modern dance to the German tradition. In her choreography for “The Rite of Spring” (1975), Ms. Bausch faithfully followed the idea of composer Igor Stravinsky, who envisioned the ballet as a dance to the death by a maiden selected as a sacrifice for a rich harvest, and she strongly portrayed conflicting themes such as totality and individuals, brutality and apathy, and ecstasy and fear.

Ms. Bausch continued pursuing the powers that well up from within the human mind and drive the body into action, and established an original theatrical methodology focusing on the significance of and reasons for motion. As evidenced by works since 1976, such as “Café Müller” and “Kontakthof,” even speech, song, and everyday gestures are incorporated as meaningful acts. Coupled with her stage design boldly utilizing the creations of nature in forms such as earth, water, plants, and animals, these innovations brought her to prominence as the originator of “dance theater”. Her creation of “Viktor” in Rome in 1986 was followed by other international coproductions in various cities that continued to reflect her contact with different cultures, view of life and values.

The motifs of Ms. Bausch’s works are solitude and alienation, male-female entanglements, the conflict between individuals and social constraints, and relations between nature and human society. These are precisely the most universal and acute concerns shared by all people these days. Her productions created through close communication with her dancers lasting for as much as a month, directly impact the memory and sensibility of audience and evoke intense reactions that are wholly different from those evoked by conventional performances of dance. Established worldviews collapse, and audiences are confronted with new perceptions of reality and truth. In the process of erasing the line between dance and theater, Ms. Bausch has endowed dance with new possibilities as a medium to mirror the society and times. Moreover, as a result, she has injected a new vitality into not just dance but theatrical art as whole.

For these reasons, the Inamori Foundation is pleased to present the 2007 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy to Ms. Pina Bausch.


Abstract of the Lecture

What Moves Me

I am going to give an account of my life, in a very personal way, with lots of small experiences and events.

I shall include my early childhood in Solingen, the town where I was born in 1940. This period was very much shaped by the war: the air raids, going into the shelter, the whole fight for survival.

My parents had a small hotel and a restaurant. Some of the guests – singers from the nearby theatre – noticed my suppleness and my love of movement. One day they took me with them to the children’s ballet. I soon realized this was what I wanted to do – this was my form of expression, my language. I wanted to become a dancer.

At the age of 14, I went to Essen to study dance at the Folkwangschule. What made it so great and unique was the fact that both the performing and fine arts were taught under one and the same roof. Hence music, opera, drama and dance were alongside painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, etc. Cross-fertilization happened as a matter of course, so that you learned about and became aware of something from every discipline. Many projects came into being. This creativity had a great influence on my later work. As did my studies in New York. It was the great period of dance. Working with so many unusual teachers and choreographers and the wealth of adventures and experiences – all coexisting alongside each other – left a very deep and important impression on me.

That is why I found the decision to accept the offer of returning to the newly founded Folkwang Ballet a very difficult one to make. I danced, had lessons, did my first choreography and then later took of the directorship of this company – again there were many new experiences and a great deal of responsibility.

Since 1973 we have been on the stages in Wuppertal – the Tanztheater Wuppertal. There I have gone a long way with my dancers. Every day, in full view of the public, we undertake voyages of discovery – into ourselves and into the world around us. Exciting, often very difficult and painful, yet still pleasing. Almost forty pieces have been produced so far – many coproductions with towns and cities in other countries.

In every set of circumstances there have been challenges and crises. I shall attempt to recount these. At the same time I shall tell of the very difficult and apparently hopeless situations and how something new and revolutionary developed for our work.

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"Dance Theatre — Body Tells"

November 12, 2007 (Mon.), 13:00 - 16:30
Kyoto International Conference Center
Coordinator and Supervisor
Shuji Takashina (Chairman, Kyoto Prize Committee in Arts and Philosophy; Principal of Graduate School, Kyoto University of Art and Design)
Organized by Inamori Foundation
Supported by Kyoto Prefectural Government, Kyoto City Government, and NHK


Opening Address Shuji Takashina
Introduction to Laureate Hiroko Sindo (Member, Kyoto Prize Selection Committee in Arts and Philosophy; Dance Critic)
Laureate Lecture Pina Bausch (the Laureate in Arts and Philosophy)
“To find something that requires no questions”
Interview with Pina Bausch Shigeto Nuki (Philosopher & Dance Critic/Professor, Senshu University)
Panel Discussion “What is the Dance Theatre?”
Moderator Shuji Takashina
Panelists Akira Amagasaki (Aesthtician & Dance Critic/Professor, Gakushuin University)
Shigeto Nuki
Kazuko Matsuoka (Translator/Theatre Critic)
Laureate Pina Bausch