A postdoctoral research project at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), hosted by Instant-Lab, Prof. Simon Henein
In this postdoctoral research I examine dance improvisation in its potential to rethink and advance processes of learning and researching in a technical university. Placed in the context of EPFL, a university specialised in engineering, the project takes a new approach to exploring and articulating the practice-knowledge of dance improvisers in relation to the needs of scientists, students and educators in higher education. As such this artistic research situates itself right at the heart of the critical discourses around the dichotomies of practice/theory, art/science, body/mind, action/reflection, as well as the divide between object and subject in research processes. The sensing body, reflection in action, and play are the practical themes of the project.
My artistic research project is part of the ASCOPET research (Les arts de la scène comme outil pédagogique dans l’enseignement tertiaire), a collaboration between Prof. Simon Henein, EPFL and Prof. Laure Kloetzer, University of Neuchatel (Unine). In June 2019 we held the first international ASCOPET symposium on higher education learning through performance practices on the EPFL campus. The event offered an opportunity for an international exchange on applying performing arts and improvisation methods to higher education.
Organisation and Curation: Laure Kloetzer and Susanne Martin
Speakers: Simon Henein / Laure Kloetzer / Ramiro Tau, Switzerland; Jonathan Parker, UK; Helle Winther, Denmark; Francesco Mondada, Switzerland; Gunter Lösel / Nicole Erichsen, Germany / Switzerland; Fran Iglesias Gracia, Spain; Susanne Martin, Germany / Switzerland.
-13 June 2019 Learning to Improvise – Improvising to Learn interactive danced lecture with generous participation of Alexandra Macdonald and EPFL master students, during the Symposium on Higher Education Learning through Performance Practices, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland
-23 March 2019, IMPROGINEERING or Move Towards the Unknown, Fall Into a Gap, and Find a Body There, together with Simon Henein, international conference Society of Artistic Research SAR, Zürich.
See on the website of epfl.ch:
-26 September 2019 Dancing Age(ing) Interdisziplinäres Dialogforum Mensch und Endlichkeit, Goldegg, Austria
-9 May 2019 Dancing Age(ing): Strategien der Aneignung oder des Sich-Befremden-Lassens? Ein getanzter Vortrag, Universität Leipzig, Institut Theaterwissenschaften
-29 November 2018 Dancing Age(ing) – Performing Ambiguity, conference Cultural Perspectives on Ageing, Hannover, Germany
– 27 June 2018 Performing Ambiguity a danced lecture, Chichester University, UK
-5 May 2018 Improvising Age(ing): a danced lecture, Kiev, Ukraine
– 14 – 16 February 2018 Die Vieldeutigkeit von Alter(n) performen: a danced lecture
6. Werkstattgespräch des interdisziplinären Arbeitskreises Ambivalenz: Altern und biographische Übergänge, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany
-22 June 2019 Bodies in the Making interactive danced lecture, with generous participation of Norah Zuniga Shaw, Soundance Festival, Berlin
-13 June 2019 Learning to Improvise – Improvising to Learn interactive danced lecture with generous participation of Alexandra Macdonald and EPFL master students, Symposium on Higher Education Learning through Performance Practices, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland
-22 March 2019 IMPROGINEERING, interactive lecture performance together with Simon Henein, Society for Artistic Research Conference (SAR), Zürich, Switzerland
-25 January 2019 Improvisation and Engineering, Eawag, The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology, Zürich, Switzerland
-7 September 2018 IMPROGINEERING interactive lecture performance together with Simon Henein and Joelle Valterio, Conférence Européenne de l’Improvisation (CEPI) Haute Ville, Puget, France
– 27 February 2019 Dancing with Real Bodies, improvisation class for MA students of EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland as part of the EPFL research project Improvisation & Engineering
– 16-17 February Workshop Grundlagen somatische & künstlerische Forschung / Dokumentation, S. Martin & A. Keiz, somatische Akademie Berlin
–15 – 21 October 2018 dancer training and performances for VARIA Festival Göteborg, Sweden
– 23 – 24 July 2018 Workshop Bad Performance For Shy Artists, transart institute, summer intensive Berlin
– 29 May – 6 June 2018 CI Workshop Watch Us Dance, Ukraine CI Festival, see website ci-ukraine.com/wpWatch Us Dance,
– 24 – 25 March 2018 Workshop Grundlagen somatische & künstlerische Forschung / Dokumentation, S. Martin & A. Keiz, somatische Akademie Berlin
–18/19 November 2017 Workshop Body & Milieu Body IQ Festival, Somatische Akademie Berlin
– 16 – 22 June 2017 CI Workshop Dancing with Others – Dancing for Others, Bucharest CI Festival
Susi & Gabi’s Salon
Susanne Martin & Gabriele Reuter (Berlin) revive a European tradition that dates back to the 17th century; a salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host (Susi & Gabi as Salonnières do their best to inspire!), held partly for amusement and partly to refine taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. In dialogue with invited guests and the audience, these evenings revolve around the phenomenon of Improvisation as performance, choreography and research.
first published in Mapping Dance Berlin 2018
Description of the setting and the idea of the format
The latest edition of Susi & Gabi’s Salon marks the beginning of the Tanzfabrik showcase series “Open Spaces” from November 1-6, 2017. Two of the performance groups invited to the showcase can already present their work here and put it up for discussion. The salon, as designed by Susanne Martin and Gabriele Reuter, is based on a long tradition and – in addition to its humorous and artistic dynamic and quality – is socio-politically, feministically and educationally motivated.
The format follows a clear and transparent process comprising ten stations:
1. Welcome; 2. Warm-Up; 3. Transition; 4. Performance; 5. Talk over drinks; 6. Body work of the day; 7. Performance; 8. Improvisation ‚positioning of my art‘; 9. 100 questions and 3 answers; 10. Audience award.
(How) does the format work? The evening starts at 6 pm and ends at 8 pm in an informal conversation. Among the approximately 50 guests, there are five without a dance background and just as many who rarely or never dance. (This information resulted from questions that the audience was initially asked to provide and to write down on distributed sheets of paper. The audience immediately began a lively conversation and also asked each other questions, among other things about their individual backgrounds.)
Welcome: Directly at the entrance we soon see from the stage, costumes, lighting and music that we are in a salon: the warm light, the waltz music, the sequin jackets and the pleated skirts of the two salonnières as well as their distinctive pearl necklaces create an atmosphere in which the group will partake for the next two hours. By contrast, the bare feet of the hostesses contrast with the historicizing salon attributes and clearly distinguish our situation as being embedded in contemporary art and society. In the welcoming part, the language question is quickly clarified: the language of the evening will be English, due to the international guests that are present. Guests will be informed of the evening’s progress (a flipchart with the schedule will be visible throughout the evening) and given a task: to record questions during the evening that may arise from the presented verbal or choreographic content (between a clear distinction is made between “real” and “rhetorical” questions). These questions will be collected in Phase 9 of the evening, but only a few will actually be answered. Afterwards Reuter and Martin select a representative from the audience, who at the end of the evening may present the Audience Award (two lemons) for two particularly successful “aspects” of the evening.
Warm-Up: Reuter and Martin increasingly integrate language into their warm-up, which initially begins as a purely physical contact duo, until they each present a striking anecdote from their studies: Reuter recalls a lesson from her lecturer, who had explained the significance of the audience for the essence and effect of art: “The artwork becomes animated because you look at it.” Martin talks about the notion of the “aspect” in Wittgenstein: An “aspect” always occurs when there is a change in thinking or in perception – an “aha moment”. In this phase of the salon evening, therefore, a kin-aesthetic-intellectual warm-up occurs, which both conveys information and invites active thinking and participation.
Resonance: The following stations are dedicated to theworking methods of the two invited artist groups: MartinSonderkamp/Darko Dragičević and Shannon Cooney with her team. From this phase of the evening I would like to mention the idea of the “responses”: After both groups showed each other an excerpt from their current productions, Reuter and Martin spontaneously stepped onto the stage and performed a “resonance”, which they attribute to their subjective memory as a moment from the presented material. In so doing, they present what they have personally perceived and experienced for all of us, what they remember and what they can do with their bodies. The theoretical concepts introduced at the beginning of the co-creative power of the art-recipients as well as the aesthetic experience of an aspect can be practically experienced here. On the other hand, both artists’ groups present their works in a way that actively involves the audience directly: Martin Sonderkamp asks half of the audience to leave the studio for a while, so that he can provide the other half information about the production. In this way, he wants to discover how being informed can augment or affect the visual experience. After the performance, both audiences can exchange their own visual experiences with a glass of sparkling wine and pretzel sticks. A lively “working break” is the result. Shannon Cooney, on the other hand, asks all interested parties to take the stage and initiates a five-minute somatic session in which we practice three-dimensional vision with our eyes closed. This sensitization not only has a pleasant, personal effect, but also prepares you physically and atmospherically for the subsequent part of the performance.
Positioning: The subsequent eighth session of the evening invites all participating artists to reflect on themselves and their art through the terms “improvisation”, “material”, “movement”, “dance”, “choreography”, “vision”, “relation”, etc. The terms are written on cardboard boxes and quickly invite all to partake in a group improvisation, in which different meanings and definitions arise through different arrangements – and are dissolved again.
Is the format transferable? The person in the seat next to me says goodbye at the end of the salon with the words “Now everything’s even more complicated for me than before! But it was exciting!”. In this sense, I can fully recommend the format for other productions, especially as a prelude to smaller festivals.
Maren Witte, Dr. Phil, is professor for theatre theories, dance and movement research at Hochschule für Künste im Sozialen, Ottersberg, Germany.
-25 October 2018 Ties & Bonds, together with Alex Nowitz, conference Alliances & Communalities, University of the Arts, Stockholm, Sweden
-7 April 2018 Learning. Teaching. Dancing. An interactive danced lecture, Tanzfabrik Berlin
-29 November 2017 live acts, moving bodies, and the sharing of time and ideas: a danced lecture, artistic research conference, Swedish arts council, Stockholm
have a look at vimeo.com/album/3608339/
Diese Webseite ist weitestgehend auf englisch, alle Beiträge, die deutsche Texte beinhalten, sind hier versammelt.
Susanne Martin (PhD)
is a Berlin based artist, researcher, and teacher in the field of contemporary dance and performance. She works internationally as soloist and in collaborative settings. Her artistic practice and research focuses on improvisation, contact improvisation, narrations of the aging body, humor and irony in dance, artistic research methods, and improvisation-based approaches to learning, knowledge production and knowledge dissemination. Her book Dancing Age(ing): Rethinking Age(ing) in and through Improvisation Practice and Performance has been published by transcript in 2017. Since 2018 she holds a postdoctoral research position at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL in Switzerland
Susanne Martin (PhD) is a researcher, choreographer, performer, and teacher in the field of contemporary dance and performance. Her work is presented internationally.
In her research and artistic practice she focuses on improvisation as a crucial practice within the contemporary performing arts, artistic research methods, and interdisciplinary improvisation-based approaches to learning, knowledge production and knowledge dissemination.
In her teaching for professional artists and performers she currently focusses on contact improvisation, instant composition, improvisation-based workout, age politics, and artistic research methods. In her teaching for students and researchers from other fields she supports embodied learning, somatic sensibility, age reflexivity, and performance skills through improvisation practices.
She has been a guest lecturer at the following academic institutions: Middlesex University, UK; University of Northampton, UK; University of Roehampton, UK; Bowdoin College Brunswick, USA; Budapest Contemporary Dance Academy, Hungary.
Selection of recent activities
In 2017 she published her doctoral thesis Dancing Age(ing): Rethinking Age(ing) in and through Improvisation Practice and Performance. This university funded PhD research argues that specific approaches to a long-term, open-ended dance practice, alongside critical images and new imaginations of age(ing) in performance, allow dance to evolve as an age critical arts practice (PhD completed 2016 at Middlesex University London).
Since 2018 she teaches artistic research methods at Somatic Academy Berlin.
Since 2011 she curates, hosts, and performs Susi & Gabi’s Salon in collaboration with choreographer and urbanist Gabriele Reuter. In dialogue with invited guest artists and the audience these participatory Kunstvermittlung events (médiation artistique) revolve around the practices, working methods, and audience-performer relationships in contemporary dance and improvisation-based performance.
In collaboration with the musican Marlène Colle she curates and hosts 7 minutes of fame, a monthly performance evening that brings together dance, poetry, pop, experimental music, and performance art in a traditional Berlin corner bar (since 2016 ongoing).
Her piece Von der Schönheit und Seltsamkeit des Anlehens, co-choreographed with Eliane Hutmacher won in the German national competion Tanztreffen der Jugend 2017.
She creates stage works since 1990……
|2011 – 2016||PhD research at the Universities Northampton and Middlesex, UK|
|2007 – 2009||MA research at Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz Berlin, Germany, Master of Arts “Solo/Dance/Authorship”|
|1992 – 1994||postgraduate studies dance at Folkwang University Essen, Germany|
|1987 – 1991||dance teacher studies at Rotterdam Dance Academy, Netherlands|
22 June 2017, group improvisation performance of the teachers at Bucharest Contact Improvisation Festival, with Steven Batts, Inna Falkova, Elisa Ghion, Sergey Golovnya, Susanne Martin, Virginia Negru, Adrian Russi, Alexandra Soshnikova, venue: CNDB (Centrul Național al Dansului Bucuresti)
– September 2017, Searching for the Fountain of Age – a danced lecture, Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts (CARPA 5), Theatre Academy and the Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts
See publication: https://nivel.teak.fi/carpa5/susanne-martin-searching-for-the-fountain-of-age-script-of-a-danced-lecture/
-7 July 2017, Improvising Age(ing) or dancing around the fountain of youth and the fountain of age – a danced lecture and workshop, Dance & Somatic Practices Conference, Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) Coventry University, UK
-29 June 2017, Dancing Age(ing) as Artistic Research – Embodied Practice and Artistic Research: Debating European Artistic Doctorates in Dance and Performance, Seminar organised by Artistic Doctorates in Europe (ADiE), RESEARCH PAVILION: UTOPIA OF ACCESS, Biennale di Venezia 2017, Research Pavilion, Theatre Space
-29 April 2017, Dancing Age(ing): Strategies for Rethinking Age(ing) in Contemporary Dance, ENAS Conference: Cultural Narratives, Processes and Strategies in Representations of Age and Aging, University of Graz, Austria
Photos: Etienne Girardet
Lehnen, federn, fallen, berühren, ausstrecken, anschmiegen, ausklappen einsacken, hinfläzen, auftanken. // 8 junge Menschen, ein Sofa, viel Raum für Kontakt und für eigensinnige Versuche des Anlehnens und Abhebens. // Es entstehen schöne und seltsame Beziehungen zwischen Körper und Körper, zwischen Körper und Boden, Körper und Sofa, Körper und Raum. // VON DER SCHÖNHEIT UND SELTSAMKEIT DES ANLEHNENS ist das erste Tanzstück des neuen ACADEMY Produktionshauses. Es ist entstanden aus dem Bewegungsmaterial der Akteur*innen, improvisiert und verabredet, bequem und unbequem, bewegt und eigenwillig.
Akteur*innen: Anna Simonsmeier, Bernadette Schnabel, Felipa Goltz, Han Nguyen, Jacob Ernst, Katharina Dittrich, Klara Kruse Rosset, Larisa Brettingham-Smith
Choreographie: Eliane Hutmacher und Susanne Martin
Künstlerische Beratung: Rachel Hameleers Produktion: Ronja Hinz
ACADEMY. Die Bühnenkunstschule für Menschen aller Kulturen von 13 bis 19 Jahren. Ein Projekt der Alten Feuerwache und der Gasag. Unterstützt von der Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung und der Stiftung am Grunewald.
Das ACADEMY Produktionshaus ist eine Produktionsstätte von, mit und für jugendliche Bühnenkünstler*innen. Es möchte Zuhause und Plattform sein für Bühnenexperimente aller Art. Ob Tanz, Schauspiel, Gesang oder alles vermischt zu einem Ganzen mit, mit voller Energie und ganzem Einsatz kommen hier professionelle Bühnenkünstler*innen, aber auch junge Macher*innen und vor allem Jugendliche der ganzen Stadt zusammen und produzieren Vorstellungen: Interdisziplinär, möglichst experimentell in Form- und Zielsetzung und mit einem ausgesprochen künstlerischen Ansatz. Mitmachen können alle ACADEMYs, das heißt alle, die das Basisjahr an der Bühnenkunstschule abgeschlossen haben.
Premiere: 30. März 2017, Alte Feuerwache Berlin
Photos: Etienne Girardet
-10 April 2017, deluxe expérimental performance! at Merlin’s Berlin, venue: Maze, Berlin Kreuzberg
-06 April 2017, Understanding Dance for Beginners and Intermediates: after Loie Fuller at 7 minutes of fame, venue: Stammtisch, Berlin Neukölln
After 18 months and 12 editions and many many wonderful performers and performances Marlène and me closed the series in 2017. 2018 it is taken up again curated and hosted by Emilia Oebel and Georg Bergmann. We are very happy about that!!!!!!
A mixed performance evening curated by Marlène Colle and Susanne Martin at good old Eckkneipe „Stammtisch“ in Berlin Neukölln. Roughly once a month. Each time an astonishing line up with acts of maximum 7 minutes length, performers wild and tamed, minimalists and exhuberants, newcomers and Wiederholungstäter*innen, auf Deutsch oder Englisch oder. Original music, dance, poetry, stand up, science, performance art……
Info: check the facebook group ‚7 minutes of fame‘ or facebook page ‚Stammtisch‘
Next dates: 6 April, 18 May, 8 June 2017
You want to perform: write a mail to me and Marlène
Photos by Max Vaupel.
My teaching deals mainly with dance, improvisation, performance, the body in different contexts, artistic research methods, or topics such as such as dance & age(ing) or improvisation & engineering, which developed out of my own artistic research.
In which formats do I teach?
– Workshops / Classes = practice oriented, limited time for verbal interaction
– Seminars = mix of input, practical exploration, group reflections/discussion
– Supervising / Coaching = one to one work, content focus tailored to supervisee
– Lecture Performances = performances aiming at knowledge production/dissemination, therefore therefore including a substantial amount of verbalizing
Workshops / Classes
Generally speaking, I teach what I embody as dancer and performer. I teach what I know most about, what I learned and still passionately study. So I design my dance teaching around one of the following 3 focal points
– contact Improvisation
– improvisation and composition for performance (group-duet-solo)
– improvisation-based workout
These are thematic seminars that combine practical and theoretical inputs and explorations with the participants. Themes are
– artistic research
– improvisation as exploration, as performance, as research
– showing process on stage, staging your work (e.g. “bad performing for shy artists”)
– dance & age(ing) (e.g. “undoing age appropriateness”)
Supervising / Coaching
I started to support individuals and groups in developing their respective artistic research practices. Currently I am supervising some MFA students, helping them the find, find back, not loose their very unique paths through the jungle of art and academia., I’m sharing inputs, tools and strategies from dance, theatre, artistic research and from my personal experience with collaborative artistic practice. I’m supporting processes of performance making
I keep developing the hybrid format of lecture performance.
I’m staging, dancing and discussing specific themes often with invited guests and/or the audience – these lectures often include some audience activity/participation. For past lecture performances go to „Research“ and “Salons” in the menu.
– 7 Dec 2016, Performing Age(ing): Sliding through Time – a danced lecture, Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
-1 Dec 2016, Performing Age(ing): Sliding through Time – a danced lecture, SITE, artistic platform and production house for contemporary performing arts, Stockholm, Sweden
-29 Nov 2016, Performing Age(ing): Sliding through Time – a danced lecture, swedish research council’s symposium on artistic research, Linnaeus University Växjö, Sweden
02 August 2014 – Staging Age
Lecture-Performance at Festival Performing Presence – Improvisation Xchange Berlin, Venue: EDEN Studios, curated by Jenny Haack, see also website berlinartsunited.com
Set in the context of contemporary dance this thesis investigates how improvisation practice and performance making participate in a critical rethinking of age(ing). Advancing the notion of an age critical dance practice, the research draws on the theoretical frameworks of age studies – a multidisciplinary field of critical inquiry informed by, largely speaking, feminist and poststructuralist theories. The age critical dance practice developed in this thesis, in turn, enters into conversation with the discourses established in age studies and dance studies as a way to incorporate age critique into dance.
The thesis is a Practice as Research project consisting of a written thesis, two solo performances (The Fountain of Youth, premiered 2013, and The Fountain of Age, premiered 2015), and employs immersive dance based research methods such as the development of a Solo Partnering practice (as documented on DVD). The research also remodels the method of qualitative interviewing into a performative method that allows the participating expert practitioners to tap into their unique improvisation and performance expertise when addressing their particular understanding of age(ing).
Through the development and analysis of improvised practice and performance making, alongside in-depth performative interviews, the findings of this research point to ways in which improvisation and performance embody age critical potential. The long-term, open-ended and agentic artistic processes that improvisation experts develop all share a range of characteristics that serve to challenge the established youth-orientation in dance and constitute an implicitly critical position to dominant understandings of age(ing) in dance. Consequently, the thesis argues that improvisation practices ‘do’ age(ing) in ways less prone to dualistic stereotyping and reiterations of (self-) discriminatory age(ing)-as-decline narratives that dominate our culture as a whole. The research also suggests strategies in performance making that enable representations of age(ing) in ways that collide with, resist, or complicate normative expectations on age(ing). The dance works presented in this thesis allow the dancer to articulate shifting perspectives and experiences, creating ambiguous meanings and disjunctive narratives of age(ing), and thereby making explicit a critical position towards the grand narratives of age(ing).
In conclusion, this research argues that specific approaches to a long-term, open-ended dance practice, alongside critical images and new imaginations of age(ing) in performance, allow dance to evolve as an age critical arts practice.
A recomposing of the opening scene of my solo The Fountain of Age (2014)
-14 October 2016, Body IQ Festival, Somatische Akademie, Berlin
-15 October 2016, Tatwerk Berlin
Susanne Martin and Alex Nowitz
Premiere: July 7, 2016, at festival Improvisation Xchange Berlin – berlin arts united at Dock 11, Berlin
Duration: 60 min
An interdisciplinary dialogue between two artistic research projects, one based in dance, the other in voice/live electronics
(spoken language English)
In this three-part performance Susanne Martin and Alex Nowitz each share, explain, and perform aspects of their respective research for the other and for the audience. Susanne’s research “Dancing Age(ing)” rethinks age(ing) critically in and through improvisation practice and performance. With “The Multi-Vocal Voice” Alex traces the potentialities for the contemporary performance voice without and with technological means, i.e. live electronic instruments. Finally they enter into a duet improvisation in which they allow their ideas and modes of performing to merge, interact and possibly inspire each other.