grew up in the small village near Hanover where he was born in 1966. When the family of a school friend took him along to see a ballet at the opera house – it was a ‘rock ballet’ – he was instantly hooked. He completed a school internship at the State Opera in Hanover and as a 16-year-old went to ballet classes once a week at Sigrid Lühr-Dubuc’s small school in the neighbouring village. And although he had originally planned to study theology, he went to an audition at the dance academy of the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media. It was only when he was accepted that he realised what he had gotten himself into. It had happened more or less by accident.
After studying for four and a half years, he joined Joël Schnee’s company at the theatre in Osnabrück for two years, before moving to Amsterdam to dance with Dansgroup Krisztina de Châtel (today Dans Groep Amsterdam) and Conny Janssen Danst for eight years. In Amsterdam he saw Café Müller/The Rite of Spring and the Brecht-Weill evening The Seven Deadly Sins by Pina Bausch. The pieces awakened an ‘impossible' dream in him to one day be allowed to dance something like that. A friend put him on a mailing list for auditions with Pina Bausch, which is how he ended up in Wuppertal. He says, “I had no expectations, I was totally relaxed. After all, I was planning to quit dancing altogether.” But in the international dance world at the time, auditions with Pina were famous for being a very human and deeply moving experience, so he simply wanted to take that in and meet the woman he had seen on stage in Café Müller.
And the end of a long day, Pina Bausch invited him to rehearse with the company for another day – and then asked him to stay. He said, “But I really wanted to go to New York”, and she replied: “We are in New York sometimes.” Michael Strecker has been a permanent member of the Tanztheater Wuppertal since 1997. At the beginning, he didn’t have too much to do and was able to observe Pina Bausch and his colleagues during rehearsals: “It was a bit frightening and incredibly instructive. I would sit somewhere behind her in the Lichtburg and listen to almost everything she said.” Soon, he started taking over big roles from Jan Minarik, Urs Kaufmann and Lutz Förster, which they generously and lovingly taught him. And finally, he also danced with Pina Bausch in Café Müller. It was something he had never even dared to dream of.
Masurca Fogo was the first new production that he worked on with Pina Bausch. It took a few years until he began to realise what she was trying to achieve. That you have to discard everything you think you know before you can learn to be yourself, and that you can never give up trying to be a little more right. Pina’s time, her patience, are the greatest gift for him.