Dance Matters: Tanztheater Wuppertal Evolves Without Bausch

August 29, 2013

Tanztheater Wuppertal in Bausch’s 
. Photo
© Bettina Stöß, Courtesy TW.


Four years after the sudden death of Pina Bausch at age 68, Tanztheater Wuppertal has cautiously announced plans to reinvent the company’s identity from 2015 onwards, with a different makeup and new commissions. The ensemble as it is known is set to go out on a high note, however: The upcoming 40th-anniversary season will be a large-scale celebration of Bausch’s legacy.


When the team who handled the immediate aftermath of Bausch’s death, Dominique Mercy (at right, in tutu) and Robert Sturm, asked to step down, the company unanimously decided to appoint longtime member Lutz Förster to replace them. “I was very moved and surprised, because I never intended to take this job,” says Förster. “But Pina gave me so much that I thought now was the time to give something back.”


His first task will be to look back, as the company plans to reconstruct several older Bausch pieces. Tanztheater will present 14 works from its repertoire over the 2013–14 season and offer exhibitions, films, workshops, and public discussions in Wuppertal and neighboring Düsseldorf and Essen.


The company’s unique structure means changes are necessary beyond this season, however. “We have performers not only over 40, but over 60,” says Förster. “They are getting older and can’t do as much anymore, but we didn’t have the funding to hire new people.” The year 2015 will bring “a clean break”: a number of older dancers will move on to staging responsibilities, in part to allow more outside companies to perform Bausch works, and new dancers will be recruited.


Tanztheater is also set to perform a smaller number of Bausch works each season and start commissioning works from other choreographers. “After so many discussions about the future, there is finally some clarity,” says Förster. “People are relieved.”