German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch, who died one year ago today, both horrified and astonished audiences. To put it lightly, her productions, which in some cases had dancers violently crashing across the stage, transcended traditional barriers between dance and theater.
"It is limiting to call her a choreographer; she liked the term 'dance theater.' She was important because she thought everything belonged together -- speech, movement, design, commenting on the audience," said Lewis Segal, former Times dance critic.
Bausch's dance company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, made its American debut in L.A. as the opening performer at the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, an event that signaled for many the city's artistic coming of age. The company has continued its relationship with Los Angeles, performing in recent years at UCLA's Royce Hall and at the Music Center.
Among Bausch's recent works are "Nelken" ("Carnations") from 2005, offering a parody of the classical ballet danced on a floor covered with flowers; and 2004's "Ten Chi," a nearly three-hour plotless opus continuing Bausch's explorations of geographic regions through staging and movement -- in this case, Japan.
"She was famous for saying that she was not as interested in how people move as in what moves people. She wanted to tell a story," Segal said.
For more on the boundary-pushing choreographer and dancer, read Pina Bausch's full obituary by The Times.
-- Michael Farr
Photo: Pina Bausch. Credit: Associated Press