Rolf Borzik, the dance of things.

Rolf Borzik was the first set and costumes designer of the Tanztheater from the 1973 to the 1980. Borzik was a prolific designer always pushing the edges of his work through the use of different technics and themes. 

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The performances of the Tanztheater, as well as the same ­figure of the founder Pina Bausch, have always been surrounded by a kind of sacredness. Outside of this cult of the personality of Pina, if you look carefully, the core of the communication is mainly due to the irony: the body and actions stripped of their conventional meaning and use, given their most instinctive way to create new meanings.

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The centerpiece of the company’s work is the physical expression, never as formal act in itself. The exhausting process that Bausch put in place with the dancers and designers of the set was always oriented to creative expression. On stage there is nothing but the dimension of human existence staging with intensity, ruthless sincerity and irony. Sometimes you can feel anxiety and twist your guts as in Le Sacre du Printemps, sometimes you laugh in front of the image of an hippopotamus on the scene, even remain amazed at the use of natural elements, such as ice, water, large rocks (Vollmond) or of animals as in the latest shows (Underground One: Im Zoo).

In a few lines Borzik that leaves us with the title “notes”, he says, “Experiencing a story that grows out of the empty space to imagination is so strong that it sharpens my ability to observe and me grotesquely helps to draw pictures for me”.  His work was all about dancers on stage: the body in space and the elements in the scene are always in a continuous exchange to complete each other’s sense, a bit, perhaps, as the relationship between Pina and Rolf, dancer and designer together as in life. “From this silence I see an awakening of the human body with as its whole organism.” In the scene, just as in his words, no cryptic objects bearers of a mystery that only the artist can decipher, only real-life objects : tables, chairs , sun glasses , towels…Or everyday landscapes: a bar, a ­field of land, an avenue in autumn, a lane during a storm… This was the meaning of Rolf spaces: leave space to the story, dancers, costumes, lights and even the smells! Just look at his drawings to understand: On a blank sheet of paper the outline of an angel with a long coat are barely signed while walking on a floor without texture, dotted with flowering pots… A crocodile follows a woman in evening dress, the details of the boiseries of a bar in Cafe Muller…


An attempt to be true an honest, to break the apparence and let the public experience the narration in the most direct way. The setting on the stage is emanation of the dancing bodies, ecstasies of the dancers…the things can breath on the stage, talk and sing as the chorus of ancient tragedies. Borzik is the ruthless storyteller, expert in the technology of the creative consciousness:

“What is the criterion that enables to scrape a layer of complacency and skill up to the naive core ? I do not believe that knowledge is because it combines too easily with arrogance. Perhaps the truth in the barren beginning . To return to the beginning, it is necessary to destroy rigid norms and values. Probably these origins helps to create a free space of action that makes us joyful or cruel as children. I think that if one is trying to return to his own beginning , one discovers a reservoir that can give a lot. It is emerged when opening the eyes in the morning.”


-Rolf Borzik und das Tanztheater (Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, 2000 )