PSR Berlin#4 - Investigating Social Choreography

PSR Berlin#4 - Investigating Social Choreography

Investigating Social Choreography

Workshop with Dana Caspersen & Christophe Leucht 4.,5.,6., June 2018
Participatory Event with Dana Caspersen & Christophe Leucht 3&4. June 2018
Working Group Meeting 8 June
Lab at AGORA with Agora Collective 15.&16.June 2018
Working Group Meeting 22. June 2018
Working Group Meeting End Session – Wrapping Up 24. June 2018

Rubina Uenzelmann, Jana Elhardt, Rodolfo Ribeiro, Kiana Rezvani, Vilja Mihalovsky, Anna Häusler, Bendix Fesefeldt, Lukas Reuß, Annette van Zwoll, Christoph Leucht, Andrea Keiz, Dana Caspersen, Juli Reinartz, Stefan Hölscher, Mila Paviceciv, Modjgan Hashemian, Agora Collecitve, Lea Martini

Workshop Input / Choreographer : Dana Caspersen

Dramaturgie : Christophe Leucht

Lab Input : Agora Collective

Working Group : Juli Reinartz, Stefan Hölscher, Mila Paviceciv, Modjgan Hashemian, Agora Collecitve, Lea Martini

Production : Annette van Zwoll


Workshop Changing the Conversation in Conflict

In this 3-day practical workshop, conflict specialist and performing arts innovator Dana Caspersen presented ideas and practices from the fields of both conflict studies and choreography, and combined conflict resolution strategies with choreographic methods.  Participants examined categories of choreographic decisions being made on both individual and systemic levels and consider the impact of choreographic decision-making in the creation and realization of participatory events. They engaged in a guided, hands-on process of creating sketches for new physical models of participatory events while also working to strengthen their own conflict engagement skills. Following the workshop a part of the group was performing the event UNDER I STAND, a choreographic public dialogue on racism that acts to counter this division through a collective „physical interview“ process where the body – the ground of bias in racists systems – emerges as a ground of communication.

The audience, guided by the performers, used simple physical actions, such as walking, tapping and gesturing, to create a compelling physical map of their lived experience as individuals and community members. Moving through stations of conversation – physical and spoken – the audience sees, hears and offers multiple perspectives simultaneously, allowing the complexities of social experience to find an appropriately rich strength of expression.


Working Labs

Starting from the experience of the workshop and performance of Dana Caspersen, the working group tried to adept this practice with their own artistic intention of choreography as social practice. IN alliance with the workshops argument, we were interested to investigate situations that produce encounters, i.e. social circumstances, relations, move them, arrange and rearrange them.

We tried to be sensitive and alert not to pretend to talk about "the" social, or “the” audience, rather understanding them as construct (that maybe each time needs to be constructed anew…). In order not to fall into the trap of the “condescending – top-bottom” invitation, where the artistic field “exploits the “other””, it is crucial that all proposed formats/topics/ideas really stem from an honest own interest and desire to know, or to come from a really felt gap of knowledge/skill we want to bridge for ourself. May be only this “selfish” approach eradicates the paternalistic approach towards the “outside”. May be only then an earnest exchange of “what do I have to offer, what practices, formats does choreography and choreographic knowledge hold, that can be fruitful for others” AND how can I learn, get my practices permuted, affected, changed, moved…. , in other words: to expose our practices, get them disturbed, crossed, surprised…  in order to see how it affects our practices.

The Lab at AGORA produced interesting insights on how they go about it.


Key-words that keep coming up / issues to be discussed:

-      How we spend time in places, what time do we construct (horizontal/vertical time, disrupt institutional time)

-      How can community / communities be mobilized

-      How to bridge the gap of “preaching to the converted”

-      How to establish a discourse on social choreography without falling into the traps of cliché/stereotypes, presumptions (especially by undiffertiated “grouping”)

-      Questions of “marginalized” groups or directed towards specific communities / groups – avoid or enhance, or rather: how to go about not to “cement” the same group-closings again, or: centering their voice to disturb the core?

-      How to create “unlikely encounters”, disruption, new relations, surprise, chaos, messiness …

-      How to go beyond eating together, table tennis or Nachbarschaftstreffen….; how to conceive “community” works within the neighborhood beyond the known?

-      How to create agency in the place you live?

-      Crossing different expertise

-      Disruptive force of power-structures in institutions

-      What is our ideological preset when we talk about social choreography, do we carry it with us, consciously, or as a blind spot, or do we step back from it? (also questions of antagonism)

-      Parasite what’s there

-      The invitation – how to? Who to?


Report Mila Pavicevic

Social choreography is embedded in my work practice, although I consider myself primarily as a writer, I found out that my practice is always relational. And social choreography is a practice of noticing and shifting these (social, political, ideological, aesthetical) relations, that are given as predominant ones or at least teasing their boarders.

In following our group discussions, and infiltrated by the workshop with Dana, there are two main aspects that are important for me when thinking about social choreography:

So, I can say that the interest for social choreography comes from observing movement which in the proper context and conditions could create at least some extent political movement. Of course, that was very ambitious and rather naïve precondition which I had to let go afterwards, but nevertheless I could say that as a practitioner I was always curious about teasing the power relations within public institutions by trying to stretch their limitations and precondition with simple acts of chaos (I worked in the project with City administrations offices, Cultural houses, Theatre houses). These are very minor incidents for someone who operates mainly in the context of Berlin independent dance scene… These small acts of disruption necessarily include constant rethinking and negotiation of working conditions and model of organizations.

The other aspect of dealing with social choreography for me doesn’t have to do which disruption but rather with creating unlikely connection and encounters. Meaning putting together unlikely partners in artistic projects or different stakeholders as a part of my cultural work (It’s unlikely in Eastern Europe for public institutions to partner up with NGO’s, education institutions and stakeholders from the private field).

In the strict artistic sense, from what I gathered from the working period, and what I would be keen to keep working in, is: I’m curious about displacing my artistic practice towards different kinds of views, making projects that are in itself ambivalent what they are - between education, participatory art project. I hope, this line of thougt can be brought forward in collaboration with Uferstudios and Agora, seen that there seems to be a real lack of it in Berlin, mainly focused on strict “stage”work, when it comes to dance.


Subcontracting on rental (Tanzfabrik), no tender, chosen in compliance with national law and following the principle of sound financial management

Subcontracting on cleaning of the apartment (Lisa Licht), no tender; chosen in compliance with national law and following the principle of sound financial management

Subcontracting on flyer production (Annette van Zwoll) no tender; chosen in compliance with national law and following the principle of sound financial management

03.06.18 - 24.06.18

Berlin (DE)

supported/organized by Uferstudios