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Pina Bausch Foundation launches new online archives and website

Pina Bausch's 'The Rite of Spring'. Photo by Maarten Vanden Abeele, courtesy of the Pina Bausch Foundation.
Pina Bausch's 'The Rite of Spring'. Photo by Maarten Vanden Abeele, courtesy of the Pina Bausch Foundation.

On November 18, the Pina Bausch Foundation launched its new website. For the first time, materials from the extensive Pina Bausch Archives, which alone comprise over 300,000 photographs and 9,000 videos, will become acces­sible online. Visitors can immerse themselves in the cosmos of choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch (1940-2009) through original sources, such as photographs, films, costumes and program copies – originating from the 1970s to the present day. With the online publication, the Foundation is taking a decisive step toward making Bausch’s heritage accessible worldwide. 

While visits to the physical archives in Wuppertal are only possible to a limited extend, a wide variety of primary sources can now be freely accessed from anywhere – by researchers, dance professionals and enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to learn about the world of Bausch. 

The new website invites visitors to explore. With its launch, initially, materials of three pieces went online: Fritz (1974), Café Müller (1978) and Palermo Palermo (1989). Visitors can browse through each of the piece’s history and its casts and watch original recordings from historic performances. Archival materials on further pieces will follow successively. The Pina Bausch Editions film series will be expanded by a film version of Café Müller. The rights of this film material were acquired from the French publisher L’Arche Éditeur by the Foundation in 2021. This special document of contemporary history from 1985, which previously was only available on DVD, will become freely accessible for the first time. 

Pina Bausch. Photo by Ulli Weiss, courtesy of the Pina Bausch Foundation.
Pina Bausch. Photo by Ulli Weiss, courtesy of the Pina Bausch Foundation.

The process of indexing, preserving and digitalizing the extensive archival holding of photographs, videos, press articles and documents on Bausch’s pieces and their creation started in 2010, when the Foundation was founded. This process is not yet complete. It is supported by former dancers and employees of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch and companions of Bausch. 

At the same time in 2010, the Foundation started a research collaboration with the Institute for Com­munication and Media (IKuM) at Darmstadt Univer­sity of Applied Sciences. Together with a team led by Professor Dr. Bernhard Thull, they began to develop a suitable data system for the digital archives, on which the website is now based. 

The underlying linked data technology allows for the archival objects to be individually linked to one another and thus, provides for an intuitively guided usage. The principle of linking related materials was translated onto the website’s navi­gation system. 

Ismaël Dia, director of the Pina Bausch Archives, looks back on the achievement and says, “Our new website sets a starting point. From here, we will finally be able to make these unique archive materials publicly available step by step in the upcoming years. The process of preparing the materials was time-consuming and challenging, both on the material level as well as on the content and legal level. I am very pleased that with the new website, we can now create a direct encounter with the public, since it allows an engagement with Pina Bausch’s work on various levels.” 

In order to reach as many visitors as possible and to avoid language barriers, large parts of the website are writ­ten in Plain English, such as articles on current projects or short portraits on the archive pages. A steadily growing number of articles are also being written in Easy Read. 

On, archive materials interrelate with the Foundation’s cur­rent projects. The archives feed the work around the oeuvre of Bausch with the aim to enable performances of her pieces again and again. This currently be­comes visible, for example, with the transmission of The Rite of Spring to a newly assembled ensemble with dancers from 13 African countries, which premiered at Teatros del Canal in Madrid this past September. 

For the November launch, film footage of this transmission process was also published online: a spontaneous recording documents the last rehearsal of The Rite of Spring in Senegal, before the rehearsals had to be paused until August 2021, due to the COVID pandemic. The film, Dancing at Dusk – A moment with Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring, will be freely available exclusively on the Foundation’s website for a short time, until the international tour resumes in 2022. 

“With this website, we are connecting yesterday, today and tomorrow,” explains Salomon Bausch, the Pina Bausch Foundation’s founder, and chair of the board of directors. “We have these unique original sources and want to make them accessible and usable worldwide. There is a whole cosmos to discover, and I hope it will touch and inspire many people. By creating points of contact with my mother’s work, we want to encourage people to have their own sensual and dancing experiences. The current world tour of The Rite of Spring with our newly founded company and the overwhelming response by the audience to it, is a shining example for the artistic future of Pina Bausch’s repertory and pioneering for the future.” 

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