Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 13:01 UK

Choreographer Bausch dies aged 68

Pina Bausch
Bausch founded the Wuppertal dance-theatre company in 1973

German choreographer Pina Bausch, whose work is credited with revolutionising the language of modern dance, has died aged 68.

The Wuppertal Dance Theatre, where she served as director, said Bausch's "unexpectedly fast" death came five days after being diagnosed with cancer.

Bausch had been preparing to work on what was being called the first 3-D dance feature.

She last appeared on stage at Germany's Wuppertal Opera house on 21 June.

Bausch earned world renown for her avant-garde performances and choreographies mixing dance, sound and fragmented narrative.

Bausch performing in her production of Cafe Mueller in Munich in 1997

She choreographed and staged her own pieces as well as performing in films by Federico Fellini and most recently, Pedro Almodovar's 2002 film Oscar-winner Talk To Her.

Born on 27 July, 1940 in Solingen, Germany, Bausch started her dance studies at the Folkwang School in Essen and trained at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

'Inspired generations'

She danced at the New American Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera in New York before returning to Germany in 1962 and later became the artistic director and choreographer of the newly founded Wuppertal dance-theatre company in 1973.

There she developed a wholly original body of work, creating a new form of dance theatre based on the German expressionist tradition.

She was known for her extravagant staging - in Nelken (1982), 21 dancers, four professional stunt men and four Alsatian dogs performed on a stage covered with thousands of pink carnations, while in Palermo, Palermo (1989) dancers picked their way through dust and debris.

Dancers perform Nefes at the Bam Opera House in New York

Bausch crafted more than 30 productions for the company, many of which travelled the world from Europe to Asia and the United States.

The choreographer continued to perform as a dancer in her 60s, last visiting the UK in 2008, when she presented her seminal works, Cafe Muller and The Rite of Spring at London's Sadler's Wells.

Alistair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler's Wells, said: "She was an artist of the kind that the world is only blessed with from time to time.

"Her repertoire of works has inspired generations of audiences and artists with an impact that is hard to overestimate."

Bausch had been due to present a performance of the The Seven Deadly Sins at the Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Moscow this month.

She is survived by her husband Ronald and their son, Rolf. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

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