From the Archives: Pina Bausch and Juilliard

December 12, 2013

In the summer of 1959, Kurt Jooss invited three American teachers from Juilliard to teach during a summer course at his Folkwang School. Dance Magazine recorded the cross-Atlantic exchange in its October 1959 issue: Pearl Lang, Jerry Bywaters and Alfredo Corvino traveled to the school in Essen, Germany, and according to Folkwang modern teacher and the article’s author, Isa Partsch, “the results were stimulating and positive.”


But perhaps one of the most significant results of the exchange was that the Folkwang student who received a scholarship to study at Juilliard the following year was none other than Pina Bausch.


Bausch in class at the Folkwang School in 1959.
Photo by Hal Bergsohn, DM Archives.


This year, The Juilliard School and Folkwang University of the Arts have teamed up again (as part of the Pina Bausch Foundation Project) to revive Bausch’s rarely seen work, Wind von West. (The piece premiered in 1975 along with Bausch’s The Rite of Spring and The Second Spring.) The Juilliard students traveled to Germany in November to perform Wind von West in celebration of Tanztheater Wuppertal’s 40th anniversary. Now it’s onstage in New York as part of Juilliard’s annual fall dance concert, which opened Wednesday and continues through Sunday. Juilliard senior dance students are joined by select members of Folkwang University of the Arts as well as members of Juilliard’s orchestral and vocal performance divisions. It’s the first time the work is being performed to live music—and that adds a new level of eeriness to an already haunting piece, set to Stravinsky’s Cantata.


From left: Juilliard’s Taylor Drury, Tsai-Wei Tien, Kristina Bentz, Bynh Ho in
Wind von West.
In the February 1979 issue of
Dance Magazine, the work was described as “one of those enigmatic essays on people constantly on the move who search for new contacts, which nonetheless are dropped the minute they are established.”
Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, Courtesy Juilliard.


If you’re in or near New York City this weekend, consider attending the production. It’s one of the rare (if not only) occasions that a Bausch’s work is being performed by a company other than Tanztheater Wuppertal, Paris Opéra Ballet or the Folkwang University. The Juilliard students are certainly up to the task. Not only technically proficient and gorgeous movers, they are 100 percent IN the work, committed to upholding its integrity.


Juilliard and Folkwang students in the ensemble of
Wind von West.
John Giffin has said that according to Bausch, the abstract work is about birth, love and death.

Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, Courtesy Juilliard.


The students have been coached by John Giffin, Jo Ann Endicott and Mari DiLena, three artists who worked on the piece with Bausch herself. The trio appeared at the Guggenheim’s Works & Process lecture demonstration in September where they discussed the reconstruction with Deborah Jowitt. The hour-long event also included Bausch’s 2008 Dance Magazine Award acceptance speech, a video clip of the 1975 Wind von West premiere and an excerpt from the piece performed by seven Juilliard students. You can watch it here.


Also on Juilliard’s bill are three exciting premieres by Takehiro Ueyama, Brian Brooks and Darrell Grand Moultrie. For tickets and more information, click here.