The costume designer Marion Cito, whose gowns, suits and occasional swimwear were integral to choreographer Pina Bausch’s dance-theatre, has died at the age of 85. Her death on Saturday was announced by the company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.
Born in Berlin in 1938, Cito began to work with Bausch in 1976 as an assistant and a dancer. She had previously been a ballerina and was a principal soloist at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where she performed work by Tatjana Gsovsky, George Balanchine and Kenneth McMillan.
Bausch’s early productions featured outfits designed by her partner, Rolf Borzik. After his death in 1980, Cito took over responsibility for the company’s costumes and on occasion appeared on stage too. Frequently, Bausch’s dancers appeared in formal evening wear – silks and floral prints, blazers and shirtsleeves – and Cito’s elegant designs were liable to be drenched in water, swapped by the dancers or jettisoned on the floor over the course of Bausch’s uncanny creations. For Bausch’s World Cities series she oversaw costumes evoking an array of international destinations.
Cito’s costumes were worn for graceful aerial sequences (in Viktor) and hula-hooping (in como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si,si), and seen against matching billowing backdrops (in Sweet Mambo) and in an impromptu slip-n-slide (in Masurca Fogo). They were worn by the ensembles for Bausch’s trademark joyous parades and bitter battles of the sexes.
The rich patchwork of Bausch’s productions meant that the same outfit could veer from seeming sophisticated to silly in a flash; they needed to represent make-believe as well as social behaviour. In the run-up to a new premiere, Cito would work feverishly on the costumes as the production’s aesthetic was finalised. “Some people say it’s a miracle how they come together,” she told the Guardian in 2015. “It’s true.”
Cito retired in 2016 and continued to live in Wuppertal.