"It is about life and about finding a language to describe life," she said. The choreographer, on the whole, usually avoided pinning down or labeling her creations, preferring to let her audiences make up their minds.
Her first works were criticized by traditional ballet fans. She became notorious for having her company dance on dirt, on leaves, in ankle-deep water, as well as for bringing them into direct contact with the audience.
Bausch was famed for her collaborative way of working. She would start by directing a barrage of questions at her dancers, who would respond with words, gestures, and improvised dance. "I'm not interested in how people move, but what moves them," she once famously stated.
"Even the restaurant in our hotel was highly interesting for me. My parents had to work a great deal and weren’t able to look after me. In the evenings, when I was actually supposed to go to bed, I would hide under the tables and simply stay there. I found what I saw and heard very exciting: friendship, love, and quarrels—simply everything that you can experience in a local restaurant like this. I think this stimulated my imagination a great deal. I have always been a spectator. Talkative, I certainly wasn’t. I was more silent."
"I was ravenous to learn and to dance. That is why I applied for a scholarship from the German academic exchange service for the USA. And I did in fact receive it. Only then did it become clear what that meant: traveling by ship to America, aged 18 years, all alone, without being able to speak a word of English. My parents took me to Cuxhaven. A brass band was playing as the ship was setting off and everybody was crying. Then I went onto the ship and waved. My parents were also waving and crying. And I was standing on the deck and crying too; it was terrible. I had the feeling we would never see each other again."
"For example, the curtain rises, a wall–the wall tumbles, a crash–dust: how do dancers react to this? Or you come into the auditorium: a meadow, smell of grass, mosquitoes; everything that happens is very quiet. Water: it reflects, it splashes, it makes noises. Clothes become wet and stick to the body. Or: Snow is falling; it might also be blossoms… Each new piece is a new world."
"It is a special and beautiful coincidence that I have been living and working in Wuppertal for over 30 years, in a town that I have known since my childhood. I like being in this town, because it is an everyday town, not a Sunday town. Our rehearsal room is the Lichtburg, a former cinema from the 50s. When I go into the Lichtburg, past a bus stop, then I see almost daily many people who are very tired and sad. And these feelings too are captured in our pieces."
"I once said, ‘I’m not interested in how people move but what moves them.’ This sentence has been quoted many times; it is still true up to the present day."
"I have travelled a long way. Together with my dancers, and with all the people I am working with. I have had so much luck in my life, above all through our journeys and friendships. This I wish for a lot of people: that they should get to know other cultures and ways of life. There would be much less fear of others, and one could see much clearer what joins us all. I think it is important to know the world one lives in."