Foto Joakim Roos

The legal dispute between Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch GmbH and its Intendant (artistic director) Adolphe Binder has been ended.

Despite the unlawful termination of her contract (the dismissal was rejected by three labor courts), the parties have agreed to stop additional litigation not to strain the future of Tanztheater. Due to the remaining different views regarding the artistic tasks and role of an artistic director as well as its structural implementation the parties will now go separate ways. The Management of Tanztheater and its governing bodies expressly confirm their acceptance of the verdict its reasons and assessments and no longer adhere to the wrongly alleged reason for the dismissal.

Personal statement – Adolphe Binder

Despite the great support that I have received, especially in the past 19 months, from the public and from the  members of the Tanztheater and despite the labor court disputes won in all three instances, I have decided with a heavy heart to waive the artistic direction of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in the future and to conclude a court resolution. I understood my vocation as an important task to build the bridge into the 21st century together with this unique ensemble and thus to link heritage and innovation as paired forces of the company.

With great support from the dancers and many other employees I was able to successfully set impulses, be a moderator and motor to make Pina Bausch’s great work shine at a high level further on, to present what has not been shown for a long time, to recontextualize it into a contemporary frame and at the same time expand this rich repertoire with works by other excellent choreographers. This creative process has borne fruit and has been enthusiastically received by both international and Wuppertal audiences.

The time as an intendant and artistic director of the Tanztheater is therefore one of the most valuable experiences of my life. I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my sincere thanks to all my fellow colleagues who have supported me, accompanied me and wrestled with me to find the right way.

Artistic work, as I understand it, needs dispute, needs openness and transparency. Only a theater that dispenses with intrigue and power games can develop a form of conflict and argument culture without which no genuinely new art can emerge. If, as is the case with the Tanztheater, traditions and habits have determined work for a long time, this is certainly a challenge. It can only be successfully implemented in the long run if all employees are willing to contribute to the associated change process.

It was therefore a real gift for me to experience great openness, trust and a lot of joy in new ideas with all artists, and especially with those collaborators who developed the legendary pieces together with Pina Bausch. Unfortunately I could not find this openness, the courage to accept new challenges and to place artistic freedom into the forefront in the then management, the advisory board and the representatives of the city of Wuppertal, who appointed me as intendant in 2016, assigned me to initiate an artistic development process not only from an artistic point of view, but also with regard to the necessary organizational restructuring of the Tanztheater.

The Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch is neither a government-authority nor a profit-oriented touring theater, but a nationally and internationally important cultural body and institution that has the obligation to serve the (freedom of the) arts.  The heritage of Pina Bausch can only be cultivated and transferred to a vital future in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Putting power above humanity and avoiding dialogue at eye level may be common means in politics but should have no place in connection with the name Pina Bausch.

However, to my great regret, I had to realize that until today the old and new managers of the dance theater have no willingness to actually support me in the implementation of my contractually agreed artistic task. Instead, as in the past, I would have to spend a lot of time fighting for my artistic freedom instead of developing dance art. A situation in which courts would have to defend the freedom of art against the organs of Tanztheater would damage the reputation of one of the most important contemporary companies in a way that I cannot and will not sign responsible for. I decided to take this step solely out of the concern that this would further damage Pina Bausch’s artistic legacy.

I deeply regret, but I do not see the opportunity to continue on my path, which has already led to considerable artistic and economic success. The work of Pina Bausch is marked by a deep humanity that has moved people around the world for decades. A humanity that has arisen from love and that should be an obligation for everyone who deals with the work of Pina Bausch in whatever function. I would like to wish my successors to feel inspired and enriched by the love Pina Bausch has felt for dance and dancers the same way that I did. A love that is still felt within this wonderful ensemble.

Adolphe Binder