Choreographer Pina Bausch dies at 68

German theater director was fearless innovator

Pina Bausch, a German choreographer known for her pioneering work, died Tuesday in Germany. She was 68.

The Wuppertal Dance Theater in western Germany, where she had served as director, announced the death. It did not give the cause, but said Bausch’s “unexpectedly fast” death came five days after a cancer diagnosis.

“We have lost with Pina Bausch a wonderful artist, a world class dancer and choreographer and last but not least a prominent representative of German culture,” German President Horst Koehler said in a statement.

Born in Solingen, Germany, Bausch started her dance studies at the Folkwang School in Essen and trained at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

She danced at the New American Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera in New York before returning to Germany in 1962.

Back home, Bausch joined the Folkwang Ballet in Essen, where her own choreography became part of the program in 1968. Five years later, she became director and choreographer of the newly founded Wuppertal theater.

An innovative creator of striking, absurdist scenes, Bausch won Britain’s Laurence Olivier Award in 2006 for outstanding achievement in dance. She was honored for her productions “Carnations” and “Palermo Palermo.”

In 2007, she won Japan’s Kyoto Prize for arts and philosophy for her pioneering work in developing a new genre of ballet.

The Wuppertal theater said Bausch and her company last appeared on stage in the German city June 21.

— Associated Press