Seven years after Pina Bausch's death, a new era begins for her world famous dance company. DW asked the newly appointed director, Adolphe Binder, how she'll navigate between tradition and renewal.
DW: You've been appointed director of the Tanztheater Pina Bausch, a position you'll take up in May 2017. As you enter a year of preparation and familiarization with the ensemble, how do you feel about the tasks ahead of you?
Adolphe Binder: I honestly have to say, I still need to realize it all. I've spent the last few months reflecting on this decision, all while further running another relatively large dance company in Sweden - and that requires a lot of work. I'm only slowly realizing the dimensions of this new undertaking now.
It is definitely an honor to have been selected to lead Pina Bausch's company. What attracted you in particular?
For anyone who works in theater in Germany, who is interested in dance and multi-discipline performance, Pina Bausch is one of the first names you come across. And it is one of the greatest possible honors to be asked to work with the international artists from Pina Bausch's ensemble.
I identify with their spirit, with their richness of ideas, with their works - and that also makes the challenge even greater, as I want to maintain the inherited high standards all while offering new possibilities, to open up to new methods, new ideas, new formats. I see this as a huge and exciting challenge.
You were not appointed as a choreographer, but as the manager and artistic director of the ensemble. You told the press: "I am not Pina Bausch, I'm not her successor." Are you concerned you'll be compared to her?
I obviously won't be Pina Bausch's successor. There were two teams of artistic directors who took up parts of her work [Eds. since her death in 2009]. The ensemble clearly decided to keep the different fields of responsibilities separated - so they were not looking for a choreographer. I see my role as a curator who'll promote new associations, like a dramatic advisor.
Pina Bausch shaped the company and it was further led by artists within the ensemble afterwards. You'll be the first to offer an outsider's perspective.
This is a huge step for the company and it will require openness from their part at first. In Sweden I often hear this Icelandic proverb: "The foreign eye sees more." Sometimes it's good to have a detached stance on things, whether on the repertoire, the artistic strategies or visions for the future. It is also an advantage not to be emotionally involved in the roles or the works.
Both previous teams have done great work. The company has become more successful than ever these last six years, has been touring more than ever, and we shouldn't forget that. I've been reading that I'm "the first artistic director" - and that's nonsense. I'm not the first; I'm the third successor in this position.
What do you hope for when you start?
I hope to start by observing and finding out how I can carry on Pina Bausch's free spirit and courage to take risks, without being immediately confronted with ratings. I want to be able to give this space to the artists - I think this is an important first step.
Adolphe Binder is currently the artistic director of the Nordic region's largest contemporary dance company, Göteborgs Operans Danskompani in Sweden. Born in Romania and raised in Germany, the cultural manager has already worked as head dramatic advisor at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and as artistic director and managing director of the Tanztheater at the Komische Oper Berlin. She will be taking up the direction of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in May 2017.