A production of the CocoonDance Company and the Staatstheater  Darmstadt (theatrical performance department)

For the KÖRPERTREFFER  project, dancers from the CocoonDance company will join in an interdisciplinary collaboration actors from the Staatstheater Darmstadt, a video artist and an author to search for new playful dance forms of expression in a time that apparently dissipates the body in the digital space.

What if one only understands bodies as pure media which translate their codes into different artistic languages ​​and media? What if the effects of digital imaging make former differentiations meaningless? And what if all these effects are fundamentally questioning our pictorial and body perception?

KÖRPERTREFFER  researched all these questions in 2018 and 2019 in a total of five workshops with changing participants over a period of one and a half years. The result is a dynamic process of permanent translation and overwriting of scenic material. This way all methods of choreographic work also turned into equivalent media.

The bodies in particular thereby often lose their framed secret and are no longer privileged carriers of an unverifiable truth. They are in line with a world that got accustomed to deep-fake videos. A world that currently increasingly examines its own, bodily as well as mediated perception in the seemingly unlimited spaces of the digital world.

Through the daily use of digital media we can observe the increasing virtualization and controlled variability of the face which used to be the seemingly unshakeable center of our identity. This raises the question of whether and to what extent, in the opposite of traditional wisdom, negotiable distinctions by the look of the face should be overcome or continued, such as the outside and inside, natural and artificial, norm and deviation, the human and the beast. Based on the devastating binary structure of the face, the two philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in 1980 already raised in their study "Mille Plateaux" clear doubts about the dominant position of the face. They speak of it as a "horror story", even as "the inhumane in a human," and they continue: If humans were to exist, he/she would have to escape the face, the future of the face would only consist in its dissolution. No less than this CocoonDance wants to accomplish with KÖRPERTREFFER .

So a good one-hour evening was created in three parts. The first is about the prehistory, about the creation of the face that carries the human identity outwardly. A look on the face in the media overkill of our time then follows. The end gives us a utopian outlook of an era in which the face no longer dominates our perception and communication.

Thanks to the "Doppelpass" program of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, which connects free ensembles and state theatres with a third partner, the Zagreb Dance Center became the third project partner besides the Staatstheater Darmstadt and CocoonDance. In Zagreb, BODY SHOTS will premiere in spring (March 27, 2020) as an entire choreographic sequel, featuring Croatian dancers and CocoonDance. This piece will then also be performed in Darmstadt as vice versa the current co-production KÖRPERTREFFER in Zagreb.

"The project Körpertreffer (Body Hits) at the Staatstheater Darmstadt is a performing ‘show play’, however consistently non-acting, without drama, without history, without dialogue – a successful experiment." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

CocoonDance was founded by choreographer Rafaële Giovanola and dramaturge Rainald Endraß in 2000. Swiss-born Giovanola was a soloist in Turin before being brought to the Frankfurt Ballett by William Forsythe for the duration of eight years. After this, she worked with Pavel Mikuláštik’s Choreographisches Theater, with Bonn as the last station. Since 2000, CocoonDance has been producing and performing in the independent Theater im Ballsaal in Bonn; since the season 2004/05 the company also is curating the dance program and is responsible for organization and financing of the theatre. CocoonDance has established itself as a dance-arts institution with an extensive network not only within the artistic world, but also in the field of cultural education.

The engine behind the 19 years of artistic development at CocoonDance is improvisation, a strong dramaturgic approach and high emphasis on incessant teamwork. For years, CocoonDance has been “consistently experimenting with new narrative techniques, artistic methods for contemporary dance“ (Westdeutsche Zeitung). They have toured five continents by now and received numerous prizes. In 2018 CocoonDance was invited to the platform Germany, the most important biennale of contemporary dance and choreography in Germany. Their practice focuses on perception as a starting point for change in modern dance. It involves audience not merely in representation of reality, but also of its generation. The ensemble revisits performative space that allows for distance and thinking, and reaches beyond the narrative space.

“We are all spectators. A theme that Rafaële Giovanola and Rainald Endraß have been working on for years in their productions for CocoonDance and brought electrifying productions to the audience.” (Trailer, 27.07.2017)

Production: CocoonDance Company and the Staatstheater Darmstadt (theatrical performance department)

By and With: Álvaro Esteban, Hans Christian Hegewald, Robert Lang, Werner Nigg, Susanne Schneider, Stefan Schuster, Mathias Znidarec

CHOREOGRAPHER Rafaële Giovanola

SET AND LIGHT Boris Kahnert

COSTUME Florence Klotz

MUSIC Jörg Ritzenhoff

TEXT Lothar Kittstein

VIDEO Benjamin Weber

DRAMATURGY Rainald Endraß, Maximilian Löwenstein 

Duration of performance: about 1:05 h without intermission

Funded by the Fonds Doppelpass of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the Federal City of Bonn

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