(Debra Craine's article appeared in the Times of London, 3/20.)
If you bothered to look, you could find a few mildly remarkable facts about the western German town of Wuppertal. It is the birthplace of the philosopher Friedrich Engels and the wonder drug aspirin; it has a century-old suspended monorail and a green belt that would make you green with envy. But in one unlikely corner of the performing arts — dance-theatre — Wuppertal leads the world.
Its reign began in 1973 when the choreographer Pina Bausch founded Tanztheater Wuppertal. For the next 35 years, until her sudden death last year, this uncompromising, inspired and occasionally frustrating artist was queen of European dance-theatre. Her explosively emotional and intensely theatrical productions were adored by audiences around the globe; their exploration of anguish and alienation, as well as their humour, struck a chord from Europe to the Far East. Wuppertal became shorthand for a certain kind of questing, intellectual dance.
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