Last Thursday, Frankfurt's St. Paulskirche hosted the awards ceremony in honor of modern dance representative Ms. Pina Bausch1, from the Wuppertal Dance Theater. She received the prestigious City of Frankfurt Goethe Award.2
Pina, born in 1940, has directed the Wuppertal Dance Theater since 1973 and created 40 stage choreographies in Germany and 28 other nations. The "Ensemble Modern" provided a chamber music background for the ceremony, from pieces written by Oliver Messien who composed the music while incarcerated as a prisoner of war in Goerlitz.
A highlight of the proceedings was Mr. Wim Wenders'3 address to the assembly. It was obvious that his comments came from the heart when he addresses the choreographer as "dear Pina," more than once. His words reflected not merely her journey through life, but his words chronicled her choreographies.
He called her artistic achievements "epochal" and "unique," based on perceptions that target fellow human beings, but do so lightly. He commented on her humor, calling her techniques "infectious." "Following one of her presentations, one leaves the theater as having been touched, and as someone who moves differently. One senses what one has seen as real and can imagine was portrayed."
From the MET to Wuppertal
Shortly after completing her training at the Folkwangschule in the City of Essen, Germany, Ms. Bausch secured a three-year engagement with the New York Metropolitan Opera. She returned to Germany in 1962, where she joined the newly established Folkwangballett, writing her first choreography for the ensemble in 1968. She became director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal in 1973, named in her honor, and is its director to this day.
"She has shaped this dance ensemble, performed with the group worldwide, and was hailed in 100 cities around the globe as a renowned force of modern dance, as choreographer at the pulse of a new era," stated Mr. Wim Wenders.
What Goethe had achieved with language, Pina Bausch expresses with the body, as noted in the award Mayor Petra Roth of the City of Frankfurt handed the performer. The mayor added, "Pina and her dance art form have gone the way of emancipation; she found new techniques and created a new genre, that the body is at the same time its own and also in the world at large." Those who have seen Pina perform would agree.
'I Love My Dancers'
Ms. Pina Bausch received the Kyoto Prize4 in 2007. This prize is considered one of the most prestigious international honors in culture and art. According to the Kyoto Committee, she had breached the barrier between dance and theater and shown the theater arts a new direction.
In a simple address, Pina Bausch thanked those present for the honor of receiving the Goethe prize on the 259th birthday anniversary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, after whom the prize was named. She is only the third woman since 1945 to have received this honor, and she shared with everyone present her philosophy: "Everyone grows according to the trust they experience from others," and closed with, "I love my dancers."
A long-lasting, standing ovation followed the presentation. Pina had to find an elevated place to be seen and convey her thanks.
(1) Philippine Bausch, commonly called Pina Bausch, was born in 1940 in Solingen, Germany. She is one of Germany's leading modern dance choreographers and presently holds the position of director and choreographer at the Tanztheater [dance theater] Wuppertal Pina Bausch company, located in Wuppertal, Germany.
(2) The Goethe Prize of Frankfurt-am-Main (Goethepreis der Stadt Frankfurt) is a highly prestigious German literary award (though it is not restricted to writers) named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It was initially an annual award, but has become a triennial event.
(3) Mr. Wim Wenders is a German film director, author, photographer, playwright and producer. He started his film career in the late 1960s. According to his biography, he has produced 70 films, including the Scarlet Letter, Alice in the Cities, Kings of the Road and Wings of Desire.
(4) The Kyoto Prize is similar to the Nobel Prize, as it is awarded to those with superior accomplishments in three categories — advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and philosophy. The Kyoto Prize is an international award and is awarded by the Japanese Inamori Foundation, named after its founder, Kazuo Inamori and has been awarded since 1984. Each prize category consists of a diploma, a 20K gold Kyoto Prize medal and 50 million yen (US$473,000).