Embodied Knowledge in Theatre and Dance
Who are we?
The EKTD research group consists of a group of around 13 teachers from various departments in the ATD (see below), that is embedded in DAS Research and led by performance researcher and ATD teacher Marijn de Langen. We design and share investigations around the embodied knowledge that we work with in our teaching practices. This happens in monthly 3-hour meetings, that take place in a studio space at DAS Graduate school or at the Jodenbreestraat, or outside.
We work on the floor, share and investigate our physical practices. All members of the group develop their own research trajectory. We read together, sometimes we invite guests. We formulate our research interests, urgencies and questions, that are directly inspired by, and inspire our work with students. We walk and talk together, exploring difference. We invent ways of working. We look for opportunities to connect to other platforms, artists and institutes.
Some of us have published about their research, and/or shared research practices on (inter)national conferences. Others are starting to explore writing and questioning. We highly value this diversity. We have many levels of experience in this research group: you may already have a practice as a researcher, but you don’t have to be a researcher yet, it is mainly about the desire to become a researcher, or find out what might be there in that space for you. In this way we deepen and innovate our knowledge as teachers, and this immediately flows back into our work with students.
Embodied knowledge is knowledge inherent to the body. The ATD is bursting at the seams with very specific types of embodied knowledge, of ‘what a body can do’ (Spatz 2015). Knowledge about subjects that are vital to the performing arts, such as the use of muscle tension and relaxation, breathing, rhythm, ‘pulling the bones away from each other’, about fabric on skin, about the dynamics between bodies and light, bodies and space, bodies and minds, bodies and technologies, about audience bodies, about physical training methodologies and legacies, about embodied racism and heteronormativity, about queerness, about being present in the here and now…Researching, discussing and explicating these knowledges within the scope of this research group might take many different forms, such as writing, drawing, film, motion capture, photography, workshop etc.
The research we develop in this group is important for a number of reasons, including exchange and transmission of knowledge between different generations, and between different traditions and cultures. Research into existing embodied knowledge can drive innovation and generate new knowledge. By prioritising research into embodied, practice-based knowledge that characterises the performing arts, the EKTD research group strives to contribute to the renewal, diversification and enrichment of existing theatre-historical and dance-historical narratives.
Carly Everaert has designed costumes for more than 200 stage productions, ranging from huge operas to intimate dialogues, in the Netherlands and Germany. Her costumes are extremely colorful (‘I used to describe myself as painter,’), literally and figuratively multi-layered (many of them are collages of found clothing materials, tailored to fit each actor’s body – ‘their bodies are my inspiration’) and gender fluid (see interview).
In my research Maria Ines Villasmil (SNDO) and I developed a movement workshop about the question how knowledge can be found in the body itself. I wrote a lecture titled ‘Creating spaces for other(ed)’. It was my contribution to the annual Costume, Scenography and Critical Theory symposium at the Arts University of Bournemouth (2021). And I interviewed Esther Snelder, who teaches acting at the Mime School on what happens if you perform on stage in your own clothes: Is there a moment when your experience shifts, when you cross an invisible boundary between clothing and costume?’
Aster Arribas is een bewegingskunstenaar en onderzoeker die werkt met dans, somatics, theorie, performance, schrijven en video. Hun werk stelt het queeren van lichaam en bewegingspatronen voor als een manier om kennis te produceren en als een manier om somatisch bewustzijn kritisch te benaderen. Aster werkt met verschillende noties van speelsheid en plezier om anders te leren en als instrumenten voor politieke positionering. Hun praktijk en pedagogische benadering zijn ontwikkeld door het geven van bewegingsonderzoek cursussen, het faciliteren van workshops voor niet-dansers, en het internationaal en gezamenlijk presenteren van werk.
Asters onderzoek richt zich op het herstellend potentieel van het beoefenen van beweging in relatie tot het woord plezier en de vele begrippen daarvan. Tegelijkertijd onderzoeken ze de implicaties en transformaties het werk van voormalig SNDO-docent Gonnie Heggens praktijk van "rapid change in action” heeft op hun eigen praktijk, een invloed die Asters manier van omgaan met leren en dans ingrijpend heeft veranderd.
Aster Arribas Website
Esther Snelder (Drempt, 1971) graduated in 1997 in the direction Mime at the Faculty of Theatre of the Amsterdam School of the Arts and in 1998 as teacher in Mime. Since then she has worked as a performer with many dance and theatre makers, such as Kassys, Nicole Beutler, Jerome Bel, Sanne van Rijn, Magne van den Berg, De Gemeenschap and Jetse Batelaan. Esther works as a teacher and adviser at the Amsterdam Mime School, teaches performance and Alexander Technique at the ArtEZ School of the Arts in Arnhem and is acting coach for the musicians of company Oorkaan. Esther followed the three-year teachers training in the Alexander Technique and gives private lessons in this technique since 2017.
I am interested in the way in which our habitual patterns influence our functioning and acting. Inspired by my training in the Alexander technique and experience as performer, I work on the awareness of psycho-physical habit patterns in (mime)performers and I try to achieve a freedom of choice whether or not to use them. Staying in touch with your environment, the space in which you are, creates space for awareness and sensation. I investigate the extent to which the concept of space, in all its variations, contributes to the extent to which you as a performer remain present in what you do. In an attempt to capture this in language, I juxtapose my findings and vocabulary with some texts by Wouter Steenbergen (‘Het nieuwe stilstaan’, unpublished text, 1993), Frits Vogels (Etsen op het netvlies, Zuiderzwaluw 2016) and Etienne Decroux (Words on Mime, 1985 ).
Teacher, Mime & ATKA
I am educated as a Dancer/ Choreographer, Certified Movement Analyst, Master Dance Therapy and Registered Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist. I have been working as a choreographer and dancer in the Netherlands and abroad for thirty years. My creative work includes dance movies, intercultural projects and site-specific performances. I am teaching dance at the University of the Arts Codarts in Rotterdam and at the Academy for Dance and Theatre in Amsterdam to physical actors, dancers, circus artists and dance therapists. I work internationally as a teacher for somatic and creative practice in different settings in Spain, Estonia, Israel, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and New York. Together with Marieke Delannoy I co-founded EMOVE Institute, an educational institute for Laban Bartenieff Movement Systems in the Netherlands.
The embodied research of Space - in and around us. The experience of space is fascinating to me. Often, we are unaware of how space influences us in our daily life and art. But we react upon the spaces we are in, the shapes of objects we see, and we move accordingly in relation to them. We are influenced by our environment and directly connected to it. In Rudolph Laban’s work ‘Space Harmony’, we work with the Platonic Solids as a model to experience space and its infinitive directions and pathways from within. In my small research I strive to practice different scales (in collaboration with students) and get familiar with many different space experiences, especially with the Icosahedron. Space highlights the fact that everything is connected and movable. Trisha Brown, Willi Dorner and William Forsythe’s view on how to use aspects of the environment and geometry formed my desire to investigate space further.
Interim Artistic Director, SNDO
Maria Inés Villasmil is a Venezuelan born dancer, choreographer, dance educator, writer, cultural manager and academic researcher with an interest in people, society, social development, multidisciplinary and multicultural work. I have been based in the Netherlands for the last 24 years and I am presently a faculty member at the Academy of Theatre and Dance at the Amsterdam University of the Arts (Amsterdam Hoogeschool voor de Kunsten) where I lead courses in Contemporary Dance Technique, Improvisation Techniques, Choreography and also direct workshops that often integrate real time processes. I hold a MA in Choreography and New Media and a MBA in Cultural Management and Creative Industries from the Salamanca University (Spain). Previously I received two undergraduate BA degrees in Sociology in my native country (Venezuela) and in Choreography and New Media at the SNDO (Choreography Department of the Academy of Theatre and Dance). I have been appointed interim director of the SNDO until December 2021 and have been part of the research group since 2019.
My research revolves around the notion of scores. My courses are organized around a physical practice that is mostly based on the use of (existing or newly-made) choreographical scores and verbal indications. I investigate the relationship between scores and working towards real time composition as a dancer. Within the fixed structure of a score, improvisation is a vehicle to explore the natural intelligence of the body. Unfolding this intelligence inherent to the body in motion is already a goal in itself. Together with my colleague Carly Everaert, who is also part of this research group, we developed a workshop in March 2021 for SNDO/Scenography students around the concept ‘aware-wearing’ (a.o. inspired by Eugenio Barba). Aware–wearing is related to how the wearing of a certain costume impacts the body. From the somatic point of view this was very interesting for both of us, especially as we were searching for providing a framework to the students and seeing how wearing certain costumes, made from certain materials, would affect the experience of the one (body) who is wearing it, and also the (body) performativity. We used scores to investigate this.
Teacher and Coach, Dance in Education
From 1992 to 2000 Nita Liem was co- artistic leader of youth theater Artisjok/Nultwintig. Creating shows and empowering inner city youngsters through the principles of hip hop culture. Together with theater journalist Bart Deuss she founded Don’t Hit Mama in 2000. The work of Don’t Hit Mama is inspired by the unlimited and capricious life styles one finds in the big city. Driven by its research, the path of the artistic core winds back to vital sources of dance in the America, Africa and Asia.
Dancing bodies are like archives that are connected to another world, that holds much wisdom. After almost 30 years of working with dancers from the urban dance scene, I am now investigating what this has brought me, as teacher, coach and performer.
Don't Hit Mama Website
Teacher, Dance in Education & Expanded Contemporary Dance
Patrick Acogny is a choreographer, teacher, dancer, researcher in African Dance. He is a teacher at Docent Dans and Expanded Contemporary Dance at the ATD. His new publication Contemporary African Dance Deconstructed will be released in May 2022.
Patrick Acogny seeks to develop an (interactive?) video as tool for African dance for teaching and /or improvising.
Teacher, Expanded Contemporary Dance
Educated at Laban London and LIMS New York, I am based in Amsterdam since 2008 and work as a choreographer, performer and teacher in the field of dance and design. In that same year I started to teach at ATD’s Modern Theatre Dance department. Currently I teach at the new department Expanded Contemporary Dance. My parttime teaching position and the work within this research group inform my interdisciplinary artistic practice and vice versa.
My research focuses on the readers I have developed for my classes: what do they articulate? And what do they not articulate? Informed by Euro-American Western perspectives on dance, which norms and values are (unconsciously) embedded? And do those norms and values connect to or clash with less Western-oriented views on dance? I am currently collecting my findings under the umbrella of this research group as well as the upcoming ‘MTD Legacy’-publication. I have been part of this research group since its initiation. It is a warm bath of artistic exchanges between teachers from different departments at the ATD.
Hutchinson Guest, A. (1989): Choreo-graphics; Den Dekker, P. (2010): The Dynamics of Standing Still; Friedmann, E. (1993): Laban. Alexander, Feldenkrais: Pioniere bewusster Wharnehmung durch Bewegungserfahrung; S. L. Foster (2011): Kinesthesia in Performance; Reynolds, D (2007). Rhythmic Subjects; Hutchinson Guest, A & Van Haarst, R. (2011) Advanced Labanotation, Issue 2. Shape, Design, Trace Patterns; Bloom, K., Reeve, S., Galanter, M. (2014) Embodied Lives: Reflections on the Influence of the Suprapto Suryodarmo and Amerta Movement.
Teacher, Dance in Education
Rose Akras was born in S. Paulo, Brazil, lives and works in Amsterdam since the 90’s. She studied and danced in S. Paulo, London, N.Y. and Amsterdam, holds a MA in Education in the Arts (University of the Arts Amsterdam) and is a certified Somatic Movement Educator. She has chosen since her early professional years for a hybrid and cross-disciplinary career working as performer, initiator, maker, teacher and more recently researcher. She is founder director of FLAM Live Art, and Movement Research teacher at the ATD. Offers embodiment practices classes and mentorship in the performing and visual arts, architecture, corporate businesses, in the Netherlands and abroad (ATD, ArtEZ, Minerva Academie, Nike, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Oslo, Moscow, among others). She has recently started a practice with people diagnosed with autism spectrum and is performing since 2019 with choreographers Vincent Riebeek and Fernando Belfiore.
I’m fascinated about the materials of the human body: the skeleton and its almost perfect design, fluids that run like rivers, the delicacy of cells, the different layers of tissues, bones that tell a personal history of movement even when found in a cave many centuries later. In a moment when acknowledgement of cultural differences is fundamental, I propose a teaching process that initiates at the bodily base we have in common, in the belief this gives ground for a better dialogue and a deeper embodiment of every difference. Within the unfolding of coordination patterns of movement, the body as an organic sensing instrument has infinite embodiment possibilities integrating information from outer fields and performing responses and new questions from the inner fields, through the dialogue body-brain-body. Aiming for a better definition of my teaching practice, I just started a mapping process of my classes at ATD. Joining the Embodied Knowledge group allows sharing and new perspectives to arise while taking this development further.
My name is Sarah Ringoet, I am a theatre director, performer, playwright and poet. I also am a teacher, mentor and advisor at the Mime Department and a member of the AR at ATD.
My research will be about embodied language. How can we derive a specific use of language from its original context, and challenge this ‘distillate’ to face a new chance of survival/right to exist, for example by creating a new (physical) context for it?
Teacher, Expanded Contemporary Dance
After graduating from the S.N.D.O in 1991, Vivianne Rodrigues worked extensively for different Dance Companies in Holland and abroad for about fifteen years. She is a certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Life coach. She has been teaching Floor Work, Contact Improvisation, Awareness Through Movement, and Coaching at the ATD over the last 20 years. Within these techniques, she explores self-awareness, risk-taking, sensory stimulation, and the celebration of the body. In all these years her research has been about creating a playful place to learn in a holistic, non-hierarchical way, where values are aligned with artistry, and movement comes from a place of truth.
Recently Vivianne has been developing a discipline called Functional movement. This discipline aims to give students with different entrance levels and movement backgrounds a sensorial experience and knowledge about their own body structure before they engage in any contemporary dance technique. Vivianne has also been developing a practice in which she combines the knowledge she learned in her coaching training with her dancing. In this practice she explores the idea that the more we know about our norms and values, our expectations, and desires the more insights we gain into our feeling, thinking, and acting/ moving patterns. And the better we understand these patterns the easiest it becomes to accept them and to gain ownership of who we are and how we function in the world. So,the more in tune we are with ourselves mentally and physically the more present we can be in our dancing and in life.
Dr. Marijn de Langen
The Embodied Knowledge in Theatre and Dance research group was founded in 2019 by theater scholar and ATD lecturer Marijn de Langen, in the context of her postdoc research The past bubbles around us: Mime Archives in the public realm (a two-year research project funded by the Dutch Taskforce for Applied Research SIA, and supported within the AHK by DAS Research/Mime Study Programme. For more information see: www.mimearchieven.nl).
Since 1 September of this year Marijn de Langen has joined the core team of DAS Research. In addition to leading the Embodied Knowledge research group, Marijn is working in collaboration with lecturer Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca and the DAS Research team to strengthen the research infrastructure of the ATD, particularly in the area of research in the bachelor programs (including through the open call for research projects). She is also working on her own research: in line with her recent postdoc project, she is currently working towards a culmination of an extensive historical research project on Dutch Mime. The dates have yet to be confirmed, but in May or September 2022 her publication on Dutch mime will be published by Amsterdam University Press / DAS Publishing (350 pages, 250 illustrations), in both English and Dutch language versions. This publication will be celebrated with a symposium at the ATD on the unique tradition of Mime in the Netherlands, in collaboration with the field and various national and international partners.
Some of De Langens publications include:
- Dutch Mime: a distinct mode of thought in theatre practice, PhD Utrecht University, 2017
- 'Turning, Turning. Theory is Movement' in Theory II Art II Practices. Marijn de Langen en Peter Sonderen, red. Arnhem: 2017 ArtEZ Press, 157-180
- Het is / It is: Negen ontmoetingen tussen theatermakers. Samenstelling en redactie. Amsterdam: 2016 de Nieuwe Toneelbibliotheek
Artistic Director, Modern Theatre Dance
Angela Linssen is the artistic director of the Modern Theater Dance department of the AHK, where she developed the program towards a contemporary dance education. She graduated from the Rotterdam Dance Academy, worked as a professional dancer and choreographer, and teaches contemporary dance in the Netherlands and internationally. In 2016, she finished the Master Education in Arts (AHK) with the project: HBO dance teachers as artists. Followed by design research in collaboration with John Taylor: Teaching dance in the 21st century. At the moment (Dec 2021) we work on a Post HBO for dance teachers, dance coaches, rehearsal directors in the whole build-up of professional dance, from pre-education, MBO, HBO, and the professional dance field. Since November 2021 chair of the Exam board.
Angela Linssen works with 'embodied visualising' in her contemporary dance lessons. This entails the inner eye implies/initiates and follows the movement and delivers a continuous awareness of where and how the movement moves through the body.
Angela's research entails: The inner eye in relation to the outer eye.
"I have noticed that some international students from countries such as Russia, China, Japan, have trouble really seeing and looking at the audience. There is a big cultural difference behind and underneath it. As a result, the presence and performativity remains very restrained despite their strong physicality. What I want to investigate is whether, through the inner visualization of the body, I can allow and increased incorporation of the seeing of the outside world: the audience. How can that inner monologue, physical narrative be expanded further?"
Fabián Santarciel de la Quintana is a mime performer and theatre maker. Graduated from the E.M.A.D (UY) and the Mime School at the AHK, he developed his career between Europe and Uruguay and since 2006 he is a mime teacher at the Mime School (AHK). He is co-founder of Mime Fabriek, a meeting point for the (inter)national mime & performance art community.
My exploration is about the relation between the discipline of the Mime Corporel technique (Etienne Decroux) and the spontaneity and rawness of improvisation and what effect it has on theatrical actions/movement. I am interested in the dialogue between practice and reflection with the principle of “the body articulates the knowledge within” as a starting point. This process, started during the meetings of the research group, will continue in a series of workshops at Mime fabriek in 2022.
Mime Factory Website
Teacher, Dance in Education & SNDO
Lot Siebe, researcher transcultural dance practices. Bachelor Choreography (SNDO 1989) and Master Art History (UvA 2008) In recent years I have researched dance education in the metropolitan context and I supervise dance education trajectories of dance teachers in secondary education. I was the coordinator of the Artist in Residence programs of Nita Liem / Don't Hit Mama in 2007-2008 and Germaine Acogny / Ecole des Sables in 2009-2010. In addition, I was the project leader for the design of the transcultural curriculum of the Bachelor of Dance in Education curriculum in 2015. With Patrick Acogny I worked on the development of the video 'Patrick Acogny African Aesthetics and Contemporary Dance; a practitioners perspective' (2019) and the publication 'Contemporary African Dance Deconstructed' (2022).
My interest in transcultural dance practices awakened when I had the opportunity to join classes by Patrick Acogny in 2008 as part of the project ‘Dansen in het Zand’ organized by Nita Liem / Don’t Hit Mama. Patrick offered new challenging and inspiring somatic and rhythmic movement techniques. His practice made me aware of ‘other’ movement possibilities and perceptions of the body. Within the research group Embodied Knowledge I aim to theorize these experiences and how they reveal aspects of ‘whiteness’. Last season I presented an open dialogue with Nita Liem on our experiences to research and embody non-western dance forms. Currently, I am inspired by the publication ‘What a body can do’ by Ben Spatz (2015) and the publications by Sabine Sörgel (2015 and 2020). I focus on analyzing the frames of knowledge applied in embodied practices.
Video interviews with teachers of Dance in Education on the technique and didactics of Germaine and Patrick Acogny
Video: African Aesthetics and Contemporary Dance
Lot Siebe on diversity in the Bachelor of Dance in Education
Teacher, Modern Theatre Dance & Expanded Contemporary Dance
John Taylor is a dancer and educator based in Amsterdam and associated with the Modern Theaterdance and the Expanded Contemporary Dance departments at ATD over the past 25 years. Working with young dancers sparked an interest in the processes of how we collaborate and learn through co-creative processes, leading to the completion of his master thesis The Benefits of the Art Practice Based Technique Class for Dance in Higher Education in 2016.
John has participated in the European research projects Inside Movement Knowledge, Labo 21, Idocde, LEAP, and MIND THE DANCE. As a member of the ARTI research group of the Amsterdam University of the Arts, he studied the potential of artist-produced digital tools for use in dance education. For the research group of the Lectorate Art Education he studied the conceptual change model. The model was the basis for the design of a professional development trajectory for dance teachers in higher education, Teaching Dance in the 21st Century. The research centered around the effect of conceptual change upon the participants and their teaching practice. Presently, it continues together with Angela Linssen and Rahanna Oemed toward the development of a new post HBO degree. For the Embodied Knowledge in Theater and Dance research group John has been focusing on his own teaching from an eastern wisdom and phenomenological point of view where looking inward to the personal experience of kinesthesia and tactility form a starting point for the creation and development of movement in the lived body of dance students. How movement emerges from silence, or the space where the senses are less dominant.
Fleur van den Berg (Gouda 1981) is a teacher at the Academy for Theatre and Dance (ATD) of the Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK), teaching corporeal mime technique, movement research and physical theatre. Based both in The Netherlands and in Spain, her work as a teacher, advisor, performer and director is internationally orientated.
Fleur's research revolves around translation. She is working on the Dutch edition ‘Woorden over mime’, a Dutch translation of a collection of essays from 1963 on corporeal mime, written by the creator of this technique: Etienne Decroux. The book ‘Paroles sur le mime’ was written and developed by Decroux between the 30’s and the late 60’s. Translating this theoretical work, a key publication within the international mime field, implies a profound study of the thinking process of its author. This allows us to have a better understanding of the content and knowledge which stimulates the development of the artistic practice of corporeal mime technique, and especially of the way this landed in the Netherlands in the Mime study programme at ATD.
Within the research group Floor is currently exploring how the embodied knowledge of a mimer manifests in/ weaves with practises outside the artfield through ways of working.
Andreia Porto is een Braziliaans/Italiaanse actrice en psychologe. Momenteel is ze masterstudent Contemporary Theatre, Dance and Dramaturgy aan de Universiteit Utrecht. Als kunstenaar is ze geïnteresseerd in nieuwe kunstervaringen en artistieke uitwisselingen. Ze heeft ook een diploma als psycholoog en werkt op beide gebieden. Andreia's scriptie is getiteld: Soundscapes of migrant dramaturgy in relation to spectatorship.
Andreia assisteerde Marijn de Langen tijdens haar stage (tussen februari en april 2021) bij de EKTD Onderzoeksgroep. De belangrijkste doelen van deze stage waren het creëren van nieuwe (online) ruimte om informatie uit te wisselen over belichaamde kennis en het bedenken van manieren om zichtbaarheid te genereren voor de onderzoeksgroep. Om dat te bereiken creëerde ze een archief op Google Docs en maakte ze twee video-essays. Een daarvan was "Pertencer" (ergens bijhoren), waarin ze haar zoektocht naar ergens bij horen documenteert als een migrant die in Nederland woont in tijden van pandemie.
Rita Sousa (she/her) is a multidisciplinary and atypical researcher: moving from an eclectic artistic pursuit while working with material objects (on self-publishing, collage, visual landscapes) or her own material body in performance and movement research; to, more recently, embracing a master program in Gender Studies at Utrecht University as a site of reinvention and confirmation of her feminist, queer and non-normative choices in life.
My research revolves around understanding, exploring, practicing, and imagining other ways of knowledge production inside the academic context in which I partake. Therefore, I'm interested in bringing an embodied approach to social sciences through a feminist and queer lens. Under queer and feminist thinking, it urges to complicate the conditions of knowledge production in their field and step away from normative, colonial, patriarchal, and capitalist systems of knowledge production and eligibility: to whom? by whom? The collaboration with EKTD gives me the ground for being in close relationship with practitioners that already depart from embodied knowledge for their research.