Ekaterina Shushakova

came into contact with Pina Bausch’s work early in her life. Born in Russia in 1988, she began to dance at the age of four – and never wanted to stop. At the age of seven she performed in an amateur ballet group, and from the age of twelve she trained at a dance school in Moscow. Her teacher Nikolai Ogryzkov, who taught her for three years and had a great influence on her view of dance and contemporary Russian culture, showed her a recording of The Rite of Spring. When she was 17, she moved to the Netherlands to study dance at the Rotterdamse Dans School. There she trained in many different styles – ballet, modern dance, folklore, jazz. “I’d known for a long time that I didn’t want to continue with classical ballet.”
She studied in Rotterdam for four years; the last two with a scholarship for exceptional talent. In her third year, she danced part-time with the Noord Nederlandse Dans in Groningen. This was followed by a scholarship for Anouk van Dijk’s company in Amsterdam and freelance work at Korzo Theatre, De Stilte, Felix Landerer & Company and Skånes Dansteater. In 2014, she joined the ensemble of the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, where she danced in productions by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Anton Lachky, Marina Mascarell, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Stijn Celis and Saburo Teshigarawara. She says, “It was a very interesting time for me, working in such a big company and learning so many new pieces.” Working with Saburo Teshigawara was a particularly inspiring experience: he is over 60 and still performing on stage, and his philosophical approach and unique improvisation technique are fascinating.
Nevertheless, she felt “somewhat empty and despairing and was looking for more depth” in her work. As Pina Bausch’s oeuvre had always interested her, she auditioned and joined the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in 2017. She danced in the world premiere of Dimitris Papaioannou’s 2018 work Since she and has so far taken over roles in eight of Pina Bausch’s pieces. For her, the challenge is to “preserve the essence of the role while also giving something of myself”. A difficult balancing act. “But when you go on stage, you have to give everything, not just a part of yourself.” It is here that she experiences absolute freedom.

★ - Cast of the premiere