May 25, 2021 in DIS-TANZ-SOLO

One of the many objectives of my DIS-TANZ-SOLO endeavor is to integrate sports science approaches into my classes so that even dancers who do not have the means and resources to acquire such knowledge on their own can benefit hands-on from my research.

I have been working over the last few months to accumulate the necessary knowledge and revise my teaching accordingly. With my training at Berlin’s Marameo I have now had a first opportunity to experiment with this new approach; two more periods at the CCN – Ballet de Lorraine and for Cie. Paracosm will follow in the coming weeks. I would like to use this article to share a little about the ideas that underlie my teaching.

Although I work with movement phrases in my technique class, I try by all means to avoid conveying my personal style or my choreographic preferences. For me, there is something almost obscene about getting dancers to copy my movement language down to the last detail, and if I could find a way to design a technique class that was completely devoid of pre-set movements, I would do so in a heartbeat.

Consequently, the phrases I do develop are rather intended as a working basis. They are meant to lead to a better understanding of fundamental movement concepts so that the body can be aligned accordingly to optimize performance. Effectiveness and muscular efficiency are two of the most important keywords.

In my view, the processes in our bodies should eventually be automated in such a way that our minds have the freedom and capacity to constantly make real-time decisions about how to engage our bodies and our dancing within a choreographic system.

So let me briefly break down each section of my revised class for professional dancers…


This first part of the training serves both to warm up the participants physically and to awaken their senses and minds for the technical work that follows. It takes place in the form of a guided impro, which is not so much focused on extensive research, but is used as a tool to let the dancers calibrate themselves and their bodies in an efficient way. Without dwelling too long on a single sensation, I seek to achieve a progression from simple weight shifts to sophisticated, finely tuned movements. Awareness and body temperature are raised simultaneously.


The second section is entirely dedicated to preparing and strengthening the dancers' muscles. Targeted exercises address all major muscle groups, gradually working toward the full range of motion needed. At the same time, some basic movement patterns used in subsequent sections are already introduced, so that more complex phrases can later be learned and mastered with less effort.


Pretty self-explanatory, the focus in this segment is on how to most effectively and efficiently navigate our bodies across the floor. For me, this is not considered a separate discipline that requires a complete refocusing of the body, but rather I try to apply the same principles we know from upright locomotion to working with the ground. In equal parts, I emphasize the use of muscular control to precisely direct our traveling, and help bring lightness and ease to our movement. An essential tool in this context is to recognize the underlying logic of the movement phrase and use it to our best advantage.


The movement phrase introduced at this point is constructed with the goal of traversing a large amount of space. The challenge is therefore to coordinate the flow of the phrase into our own body, so that we may travel as far as possible using minimal effort. Building on the principles of the previous floor phrase, the focus is now even more on the proper use of body weight, the timely redirection of energy when changing direction, and the full exploitation of momentum in general.


All the previous elements are revisited in this final part of the class, but turned up a notch. The objective of this jump phrase is to let go and fully surrender to the momentum of the movement. An interesting aspect here is to understand the relationship between tension and relaxation. We must learn to switch quickly and instantaneously between these states if we are to make our bodies fly.
A revised training for dancers - Divider Photo

Despite all my planning and thinking, this structure is of course only a rough outline for my teaching and not a rigid framework. In the end, it is always imperative to deal with the situation at hand and the people in front of you. To quote again from Stephen Nachmanovitch's thought-provoking book Free Play:

"If you are giving a public talk, it is fine to plan what you might say in order to sharpen your awareness, but when you arrive, throw away your plans and relate, in real time, to the people in the room. (…) The teacher’s art is to connect, in real time, the living bodies of the students with the living body of the knowledge."

Header photo by Tobias Brückner


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Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.

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