was born in Harlem, New York City, to an American father and an Austrian mother. Growing up in the Innviertel in Upper Austria she started dancing when she was just three years old – and never stopped. Meeting artists from all over the world, taking part in many editions of the Impulstanz Festival in Vienna, and experiencing the genre of “performance” inspired her to become a professional dancer. She auditioned for several dance schools, among them the Folkwang University of the Arts, and was accepted to study there from 2010 to 2014. The Tanztheater Wuppertal and Pina Bausch were ever-present. “I was curious about her work and also fascinated, but at the same time ambivalent, with some preconceived notions. However, I wanted to engage fully.”
In 2014, Ophelia Young was invited to dance in Pina Bausch’s Iphigenia in Tauris and go on tour with the company. Before she graduated in 2014, Lutz Förster, who was the artistic director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch at the time, asked her to take part in an audition. She was accepted into the company and has been a member of the ensemble ever since. As well as in Iphigenia in Tauris, she danced in other pieces by Pina Bausch before officially joining the company, among them The Rite of Spring and reconstructions of the Tannhäuser Bacchanal and Wind von West. Since joining the ensemble, she has danced in around 17 of Pina Bausch’s pieces and in new creations including In terms of time by Tim Etchells, Since she by Dimitris Papaioannou and several UNDERGROUND projects.
Taking over existing roles is a particular challenge: “So many things come together. I want to stay close to the piece, but also contribute something of myself, my potentials, my attitude, even my weaknesses.” She says that she can see how she has grown. The years between 23 and 29 are a long time for a young woman at the beginning of her career – there is a lot of development. Each piece is unique and demands specific things from the artist and the person. Ophelia Young is interested in the human element, in interaction, in becoming involved on all levels. She believes that it is important to have a network. That is why she enjoys touring all over the world – she is curious, likes exploring new things and meeting people with very different interests and backgrounds. Everything that is happening around the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch – regionally and globally, artistically and structurally – is exciting, and she enjoys engaging with it.
“I want to be fearless and innovative, inspired and rooted, thoughtful and full of joy as I embrace what is to come. It is time to rediscover the power of art as we move towards the future with curiosity and courage.”