Choreographic Convention V: Movement Research

SOFIA, 2020

10-11 October, Goethe Institut-Bulgaria

As a part of the “Choreographic Convention” Programme of the project “Life Long Burning – Towards a Sustainable Ecosystem of Contemporary Dance in Europe” 

Curated by Iva Sveshtarova, Angelina Georgieva, Willy Prager, Stephan A. Shtereff

Ever since its introduction into dance-making by the pioneers of modern dance, and especially since experimental dance collectives turned improvisation into an artistic practice in the United States in the 1970’s, movement research has generally been understood as a process of finding and generating movement material beyond existing dance vocabulary. Movement is differentiated as an essential materiality of dance, and research takes place in the body of the dancer. The body experiments with kinetic potential or appropriates movements from different spheres of life, on the basis of which it develops movement language. But movement research also operates on a much broader level, which we can only briefly outline here. 

Contemporary  choreography has complicated the attitude that the body and movement are the main means of expression in dance. They have been subjected to radical deconstruction, examining their culturally assigned meanings. The notion of choreography as an expanded practice has largely emancipated itself from dance and has become increasingly interested not in the individual expressiveness of the body and movement and in shaping them through various techniques, but in the relations they create with other bodies and objects in multi-layered aesthetically organized situations, as well as in their socio-political significance. Digital and dance artists have incorporated new technologies as a creative and research tool that expand the notions of bodily boundaries. Various software programs make it possible to capture, analyse and reconfigure movement in any environment – physical, virtual, visual or acoustic… The growing interest in the history of dance in recent decades has raised questions of the possibilities for archiving, researching and reconstructing the kinetic knowledge of the past.

The Choreographic Convention: “Movement Research” offers a space for dialogue and reflection on new perspectives and approaches to movement research. Over the course of two days, through talks, presentations, conversations with artists and theoretical discussions, the meeting will focus on the following main topics: movement research as an artistic practice, as a form of work with dance archives and its interactions with new technologies and in social movements and contexts. The meeting will be accompanied by an artistic programme with performances related to these topics.


October 10th, 2020

11:00-11:15  Opening

11:15 – 11:45 “Beyond Dance: The Politics and Philosophy of Movement Research”. Keynote Address by Alexandra Kolb.

The 1960s and ‘70s period – often referred to in literature as ‘postmodern’ – is identified as a watershed moment in Western theatre dance. Following the apex of modern dance and under the influence of developments in the visual arts and other related disciplines, companies, collectives and choreographers such as the Judson Dance Theatre, Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch took a fresh look at what dance might entail: reassessing and arguably reinventing the meaning and scope of the art form. This talk will explore the philosophical and political underpinning of this shift, focusing on the rejection of previous aesthetics by Judson in particular, and the merging of dance with everyday life. I will show how these 20th-century artists’ approaches how the social dimension of their political values left a lasting legacy for generations of choreographers, through their explorations ‘beyond’ dance in the sense of technicality or spectacle. They inspired not just conceptual dance, but 21st-century artists who have supplanted dance with movement, or used bodies as laboratories rather than instruments to achieve perfection. Specific areas considered inclusion of the embeddedness of dance in motion studies, the role of ‘minor’ gestures, and work with untrained or aged bodies.

Alexandra Kolb is Professor of Dance at the University of Roehampton. She was previously reader, senior lecturer and chair of the Dance programme at different universities, and has also worked in academic publishing in the fields of dance and music. She is the author of Performing Femininity: Dance and Literature in German Modernism (2009) and many scholarly articles, and the editor of Dance and Politics (2011). She is Research Degrees Convenor at Roehampton, Reviews Editor for Dance Research, and has served on the Executive Committee of the SDR since 2013.



Panel 1: Approaches to Movement Research as an Artistic Practice

What is movement research, how the term evolved over time, why and for whom it is important today? What are its dimensions – performative, choreographic, conceptual, political? What is its practical process and what approaches do authors develop in order to rethink and share the results of their research? How to orientate on the map of contemporary dance and choreography – what are the institutions supporting risk and experimentation? The panel presents the points of view of artists from different disciplines and countries.

Moderator: Yasen Vasilev (Bulgaria) is a dramaturge, educated at the theatre academies of Sofia and Shanghai. Since 2015 he’s working on NUTRICULA, a growing archive of physical solos exploring the politics of dance, developed in collaboration with performers from different backgrounds and contexts. Since 2018, he’s a dramaturgical consultant for Belgian choreographer Ehsan Hemat and a dance critic for Springback magazine. He co-founded Drama Pact, an informal collective of writers and dramaturges, and is part of the team of Radar Sofia, a residency for playwrights and artists at risk. He’s executive director of Small Season festival at Theatre Laboratory Sfumato.

Participants: Galina Borisova (Bulgaria) is a dancer and choreographer, renowned for her emblematic solos like “Juanita Hildegard Bo”, “I Dance Maria Callas”, “anti-GONE-It’s me”. In recent years, her interest in literature and authors such as Tolstoy, Chekhov, Proust and Anouilh, have resulted in the creation of several performances, in which the precise composition and attentiveness to detail and the employment of a sense of humor triumph together with the challenges posed towards performers and audiences. Borissova has created more than 40 choreographies, which have been presented throughout Europe and the USA. She is also the author of the book “Dance Notions and Artistic Preferences” and has been invited as a visiting-lecturer at different academic institutions. She is also an active blogger.

Kroot Jurak (Estonia/ Austria) is a choreographer and performer whose work (performances, presentations, texts, workshops, mood shifts) challenges fixed definitions of choreography and performance. She graduated from ArtEz, Arnhem, in dance and choreography and obtained an MA in Fine Arts from the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. Since 2003 she is based in Vienna and has presented her work in variety of forms at venues including Mindaugas Triennial, Contemporary Art Center (CAC) (Vilnius); ImPulsTanz Vienna; de Appel (Amsterdam); Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen (Innsbruck); Tallinn Art Hall; deSingel (Antwerp); Kunstverein Langenhagen (2017) a.o. 

Lily Wittenburg (Germany) is visual artist who looks at materials and their interplay with regard to their immaterial properties. She explores the fluctuation of the dust, questions the stability of light and the volume of radiation. She lets chemicals collide and stays exposed to the uncertainty that arises from the material’s own dynamics. Her ink drawings, reverse glass paintings, publications and extensive light installations and performances were shown in the Institut für moderne Kunst Nürnberg (2020) Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (2018), KM-Galerie Berlin (2016), Halle für Kunst Lüneburg (2015). She received grants from the M1. Arthur-Boskamp Foundation (2016), Trittau Watermill (2015) and was holder of the yearly grant of the city of Hamburg (2012).

Thomas Lehmen (Germany) is a freelance choreographer, dancer, performer and teacher. In 2010 and 2011 he held a professorship at the Arizona State University, followed by i.a. the works “Schrottplatz” and “Bitte…”. Since 2019 Lehmen runs the “Kunsthaus Mitte in Oberhausen”. His returning interests are the development of artistic formats and structures, communications and the human being which reflects itself in the environment and actively influences that with creative relations. The approaches he applies often show elements of language through conceptional methods and expressions. That intellectual layer and insisting consistency are paired with accessability and humour.

13:15 – 14:30 Lunch Break

Panel 2: Movement Research and Dance Archives

Documents materialize the ephemeral and transitory movement. They give us access to the past and help us shape our knowledge and understanding of movement practices and aesthetics. What defines a document of movement as such, what is its status as a source for writing dance history, how has the notion of dance archives expanded in the last years and what is the potential of movement research in the frame of reenactments to reimagine the dance canon? These are some of the questions to be tackled in this panel by dance historians, researchers and an artist.

Moderator: Angelina Georgieva (Bulgaria) holds PhD in Theatre Studies from the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia. Since 2016 she has been Assistant Professor there. Angelina has specialized at Freie Universität in Berlin. Her research interests are focused on contemporary performance and playwriting, theatre and dance studies and criticism. Since 2019 she has been editor-in-chief of a specialized yearly Dance Magazine. She is currently working on a research project on Dance Modernism in Bulgaria in the frame of a scholarship programme of Center for Advanced Studies, Sofia. She has been active also in the sphere of cultural management as initiator of independent projects and as a collaborator of several international theatre and dance festivals in Bulgaria.  

Participants: Isa Wortelkamp (Germany) is a dance and theatre scholar. Currently, she holds a Heisenberg position funded by the German Research Council (DFG) studies at the Institute of Theatre Studies at the University of Leipzig with a project on early 20th century dance photography. Her research is dedicated to translations of movement into texts, images and writings. Against this background a number of publications appeared in which she traces the significance of these translations with regard to performance analysis in dance and theatre studies as well as on historiographical reflection of documents of movement.

Corina Cimpoieru (Romania) has a background in cultural anthropology and is currently researcher and coordinator of The Research and Documentation Department of The National Cеntre for Dance in Bucharest. Her interests are focused on the Romanian Dance History and its archival practice and potential for contemporary dance projects. She is curating and co-curating dance history projects and exhibitions like Time Dance Connection. Bucharest in Action (1925-2015), The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Dance (2016), The Active Archive of Romanian Contemporary Dance (2017), The Carthography of Dance Studios in Interwar Bucharest (2017) and Tribute to Iris Barbura (2017) – a performative project, exhibition and publication (Bucharest and Berlin, 2017), in colaboration with Alexander Camaro Stiftung and Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln.

Rok Vevar (Slovenia) is a publicist in the field of contemporary performing arts, historian and archivist of contemporary dance. As a dramaturg he collaborates with artists from the field of contemporary dance and theatre. Vevar taught history, dramaturgy, analysis, theory of contemporary dance, as well as theatre criticism at the Academy of Theatre, Film and Television (AGRFT) in Ljubljana. Since 2010 he has been an active member of the Balkan Network for Dance, Nomad Dance Academy. In 2019 he is awarded “Ksenija Hribar” Award for his new monograph devoted to the eminent Slovenian artist.

Sasa Asentic (Serbia/Germany) is a choreographer and performance maker. Since 2007, his work has been presented across Germany and internationally. Asentić is interested in exploring the relationship between the individual and society and analyzing it in terms of social choreography. He works in the field of contemporary dance, performance and disability arts. After being a victim of right wing street violence, and fundamentally disagreeing with the corruption in public sector in Serbia, he moved to Germany in 2011. 

October 11th, 2020

Panel 3: The Potential of the System

Technology radically provokes the notion about body boundaries and our spatial relationships, while choreography finds a way to incorporate them as a creative and tool for research in the performing arts. What different approaches for generating and exploring movement in the context of contemporary choreography and performance do digital technologies create? How is the body presented in the technological environment and what idea of ​​body movement is formed through computer proto-calculations? These topics will be discussed in the frame of the panel by artists developing their own systems for interaction between body and technology in the field of performance and contemporary choreography.

Moderator: Venelin Shurelov (Bulgaria), is associate professor at the National Academy of Arts, Sofia. He is a co-founder and lecturer in Digital Arts at the Academy, and co-founder and part of the curatorial team of DA Fest – International Festival of Digital Art in Sofia. Venelin is author of various interactive installations and performances, as well as projects which contain drawing, interactive installation and performance, digital technology, video and art theory. Venelin Shurélov signs his complex artistic work under the name SubHuman Theater.

Participants: Antoni Rayzhekov (Bulgaria) is a media artist working in the field of performance, sound and visual arts. In 2008 he co-founded the Viennese new media label THIS.PLAY and became a guest lecturer in Experimental Media at the University for Applied Sciences in St.Pölten (Austria). He is also lecturer in Digital Arts at the National Academy for Fine Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria. In 2016 Antoni was awarded the Content Award Vienna in category Sound&Vision for the audiovisual project 10VE.

Marco Donnarumma (Germany) is a performance and media artist, director, composer and scholar. Since the early 2000s, he has been interbreeding contemporary performance, new media art and computer music. He is widely known for works that combine movement research, technological engineering and sound physicality to test the relationships between body, politics and technology. Oneiric and uncompromising, sensual and confrontational, his language is often rooted in the experience of ritual, shock and coercion. Donnarumma holds a Ph.D. in performing arts, computing and body theory from Goldsmiths, University of London.

12:30-14:00 Lunch Break

Panel 4: Protesting Body in Different Social Movements and Contexts 

Standing still – slowing down – amidst a wave of civil unrest or in the hectic rush of the everyday; synchronizing movements in collective action or circulating gestures in between physical and medial space: ranging from organized mass movements to small-scale acts of resistance, bodies and their symbolic and affective force have always been at the core of creating alliances and forcing people to take notice of overt and systemic injustice. In dialogue with contemporary and historical examples, the panel brings to artists and thinkers from different disciplines to discuss how protest is made by choreographic and performative means.

Introductory statement: Sandra Noeth (Germany) is a Professor at the HZT – Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin and internationally active as a curator and dramaturge in independent and institutional contexts. She specializes in ethical and political perspectives toward body-practice and theory as well as in dramaturgy in contemporary choreography and performing arts.  As а Head of Dramaturgy and Research at Tanzquartier Wien (2009-2014), Sandra Noeth developed a series of artistic-theoretical projects on concepts and practices of responsibility, religion, integrity and protest in relation to the body. She co-edited several books on the topic such as “Bodies of Evidence: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Politics of Movement“ (2018, with G. Ertem, Passagen) or the periodical “SCORES“ (2010-16, with Tanzquartier Wien). 

Participants: Ivaylo Ditchev (Bulgaria) is a professor of cultural anthropology at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski ”, guest lecturer at universities in USA and France, as well as a columnist and essayist. He studies the political culture, the media, the city. He is author of books, of which the latter is “Culture as Distance” (2016), and dozens of articles. Since 2009 he has been publishing the online cultural research magazine “SeminarBG”.

Ole Frahm (Germany) is a member of the artist group LIGNA. With the radioballet they established an internationally recognised format of collective, performative listening. In installations, performances and plays they explore the production of subjectivity, the public in privatised spaces and forgotten or contested historical situations and monuments like Buzludzha. Working with dissemination of the audience as a form of agency and protest since 2002 LIGNA proposed with “Dissemination Everywhere!“, a collaboration with 12 international choreographers, to see the situation of the pandemic also as a possibility to reconsider the concept of solidarity.

Taoufiq Izeddiou (Morocco) began his professional career as a performer in 1997 when Bernardo Montet, trainer at Institut Français in Marocco invites him to participate in the creative process at the Tours National Choreographic Centre. In 2000 he is already a choreographer of “170 steps with the Artists”. In 2003 Taoufiq has founded “Anania”, the first contemporary dance company in Morocco, and “Al Mokhtabar 1”, the first contemporary dance training academy in Marrakech.

* The international choreographic meeting will be held live, in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures and will be broadcast online on the “Antistatic” Facebook page (
Due to the anti-epidemic measures, the seats in the hall are limited number that is why a pre-registration via e-mail at not later than October 8th is mandatory.
Free entrance.
The working language will be English.
* Please be aware that the programme may be altered in occasion of unexpected changes in anti-epidemic measures.