Madonna and St Vincent are fans. So was David Bowie. Actor Alan Rickman said she “pins you to your seat. It’s like she’s connected to your bloodstream or something”. 

Pina Bausch was the “high priestess of dance theatre” (The Guardian). Now, for the first time, you can experience her work live on stage in New Zealand – and discover for yourself why it inspires such devotion.

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, the company Bausch led until her death in 2009, will perform two of her signature creations, Café Müller (1978) and The Rite of Spring (1975), each full of emotion and intensity that aims straight for the heart.

Set to the music of Henry Purcell, the first half of this “astonishing pairing” (The Guardian) is Café Müller, a take on Bausch’s recurring theme of strained relationships that is quieter and more intimate than the work that follows.

According to choreographer Matthew Bourne, the second half of this pairing is “the only true masterpiece” ever set to Stravinsky’s 1913 The Rite of Spring ballet score. In Bausch's hands, the music soundtracks a spectacular study in primitivism, with the sexes confronting each other on a stage covered in soil and the 29 dancers streaked with sweat and dirt by the end of their performance.


Presented in memory of Sir John Todd, dance lover and Festival Patron (1927 — 2015).

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This is the show you mortgage the house for, says reviewer Deirdre Tarrant on RNZ Concert's Upbeat.

"The power and beauty of these works, particularly that of Rite of Spring, sear indelible images in our minds" – The Dominion Post's review.

"This is a Rite of Spring that must have been as affronting as Stravinsky's original score was in its own time" – Theatreview's review.

"Never before have I seen an ensemble convey terror, lust and sorrow in one heartbeat, nor have I seen electricity surge through every onstage body" – Regional News review.

Dance theatre for grownups, says DANZ review.

Dominique Mercy, the longest-serving member of the company, interviewed in The Dominion Post.

New Zealand Herald feature on Pina Bausch. 

The Wonder Woman of Wuppertal in ARTicle.

The Dominion Post story on preparing the soil for The Rite of Spring to be danced on.

Tanztheater Wuppertal’s Fernando Suels Mendoza on what he learned from Pina Bausch, in The Guardian.


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St James Theatre

2hrs (inc 30min interval)



Partnered by
Supported by
In association with