When Michael Carter joined the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in 2015, he was already 35 years old. “In other companies you would start to think about retiring, but here I was still considered to be really young”, says the Australian dancer, who was born in Sydney in 1980. Working with older dancers here means a lot to him, and offers great benefits, he believes. He started out in ballet, studying at the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne and dancing with the Australian Ballet for three years, performing in the great classical works such as Swan Lake, Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. But he missed contemporary dance and consequently moved to Adelaide to join Leigh Warren & Dancers, where he stayed for two years. “I felt more comfortable there than in the big Australian Ballet.”
But Michael Carter was still restless. In Adelaide he began to create his own works and experiment with film. “I wanted to find my own voice”, he says. He tried different genres and returned to the Australian Ballet to save money so that he could go to auditions in Europe. He eventually settled in Madrid, where he danced with the Compañía Nacional de Danza for five years and performed in many works by Nacho Duato. In Spain he met theatre directors and actors, created pieces for smaller theatres and founded the interdisciplinary performance platform Cie.OFEN with the Australian dancer and actress Gala Moody. Although he did not know Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater, he took part in an audition in 2012 – and was immediately fascinated. At the time, he was not successful. It was only in 2015, when Lutz Förster became artistic director, that the Tanztheater contacted him and offered him a job.
Since then, Michael Carter has taken over many roles in Pina Bausch’s repertoire, including in Viktor, Arias and Carnations. He was also part of the new production Since she by Dimitris Papaioannou. What he appreciates about the Tanztheater Wuppertal is that everyone carries a lot of responsibility. “The company continues to represent what Pina Bausch stands for”, he says. Although he never met her, he believes that she stands for honesty and radicalism. “She held a mirror up to the world”. He admires her for it – and would like to do the same with his own pieces.