Born in 1976, Andrey Berezin grew up in Perm, close to the Ural Mountains. He joined a children’s dance troupe and started performing from a young age. This experience helped him when he auditioned to get into a boarding school specialising in dance and choreography. For eight years, until he graduated in 1986, he went to school in the mornings and trained in the afternoons. He says: “Being on stage was a totally different world, and I thought that this was a beautiful profession for me”. Choreographers and company directors would travel to the school each year to see the graduation performance and discover new talent. Andrey Berezin got a job in northern Russia, joining the municipal theatre in Syktyvkar. It was a repertoire theatre where he danced something different every day, including operettas. After three and a half years he moved to Moscow to join the newly founded Kremlin Ballet, where he danced from 1989 to 1993. In 1993, the Tanztheater Wuppertal and Folkwang Tanzstudio came to perform in Moscow. Andrey Berezin saw two general rehearsals: Café Müller/The Rite of Spring impressed him with its strong artistic vision, and in Kontakthof he laughed a lot and was surprised by the many theatrical elements in the piece. He resolved to watch the company in their daily class. Pina Bausch invited him and a few other colleagues to join in rather than just watch. The next day, they were invited to take part again, not knowing that they were in fact auditioning for a place in the company. A few months later, he became a member of the ensemble, moving to Wuppertal in 1994. “I knew that my life would change completely: different language, different country, different kind of job – because it was a totally different form of dance.” He had no idea at the time that he would stay so long.
The first few years were difficult for Berezin. His first piece was The Rite of Spring and he struggled with the choreography: “It wasn’t in my body yet – that took several years. I had to find myself anew, and re-learn everything I knew.” He took over some of Jan Minarik’s roles, among others in The Window Washer and Viktor. Andrey Berezin at first started to learn English, then German. His first new creation with Pina Bausch was Danzón – a rather unfortunate experience for him at the time because she cut many sections from the piece just before the premiere, including his big solo. Today, he likes his role in the piece.
Working with Pina Bausch helped Andrey Berezin appreciate his profession: “It was the first time that I really felt we dancers were included in the artistic process – we are creative. We are looking for movements and offer ideas. Pina immediately accepted every colour.” That is why he has remained faithful to the Tanztheater Wuppertal to this day.