"Digitalitäten und Ökologien im Feld des Tanzes" | "(Virtual) Ecologies in the Field of Dance".

Symposium of the Society for Dance Research in cooperation with the Center for Contemporary Dance

October 27-29, 2023

Ecologies on the Move! With its double focus on digitalities and ecologies, the annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Tanzforschung (gtf) in 2023 deals with the influence and impacts of hybrid media-centered constellations that recently came up around dance and dancing. AI in performative arts, digital cultures of learning and teaching, or an understanding of dance as a data in processes of archiving make us ask: Which practices, discourses, and aesthetics have emerged on a social, technical, artistic level with and since digitization – and in the aftermath of the pandemic – and how can we research and move with them? What collaborative forms of working together are opened up by digital media? And how can dance(s), especially under these circumstances, be thought of as an ecological structure?

The conference addresses such questions on- and offline in lectures, workshops and motion labs. Scrolling, speculating, discussing and always in motion, we want to take a look at historical antecedents in the confrontation between dance and technology as well as reflect on changing settings and ways of working and collective knowledge production. And ask how – based on an understanding of dance as embedded in socio-ecological structures – media dispositives of staging, (colonial) power structures and hierarchies can be critically reflected in the digital context.

The theoretical contributions of renowned international speakers will deal with choreographies and dramaturgies of the digital, practices of archiving, narratives of the crisis, technologies of mediation or the concept of 'ecologies' for (dance) theory and practice. The physical-experimental formats will guide 'hands on' through virtual landscapes and aim to bring bodies and avatars into conversation with each other.

With contributions by:
Marie-Luise Angerer (Potsdam) / Anurima Banerji (Los Angeles), Royona Mitra (London), Anusha Kedhar (Riverside)  / Harmony Bench (Columbus) / Antje Budde (Toronto) / Christo Doherty (Johannesburg) / Kate Elswit (London) / Zihao Michael Li (Hong Kong) / Kirsten Maar (Berlin) /Sebastian Matthias (Braunschweig) / NFDI4Culture amongst many others.
Prof. Dr. Yvonne Hardt, Marisa Berg, Anna Chwialkowska, Ulrike Nestler
(Centre for Contemporary Dance, University for Music and Dance Cologne)

The symposium of the Society for Dance Research (gtf) is planned and organized by the Centre for Contemporary Dance (CCD) of the Cologne University of Music and Dance (HfMT). Funded by the DFG - German Research Foundation, the Sociology of Movement and Sport of the Philipps-Universität Marburg, the NFDI4Culture, the RheinEnergie-Stiftung Jugend | Beruf, Wissenschaft, the Equal Opportunities Commission of the HfMT, in cooperation with the German Dance Archive Cologne (DTK), the École de Recherche Graphique Bruxelles (L`erg) and the SFB Intervenierende Künste. VR and AR film presentations in cooperation with the Moovy dance film festival Köln.

The event will be held in German and English.

Click here for the official conference program.

Registration for the conference is now open.



All Keynotes will be streamed online.
Prof. Dr. Harmony Bench (Columbus)
Dancing in Common? Belonging, Transmission, and Extraction in Digital Cultures (EN)
Termin: Fr 27.10. | 14.30h || Date: Fri Oct 27th | 2.30 p.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

Without a doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic changed how many of us engaged with dance online, rapidly and substantially expanding our experience with digitally mediated dance practices. Indeed, in the pandemic twilight of 2023, it seems indisputable that dance practices, training, composition, dissemination, and audiences have been thoroughly shaped by the internet. But how did dance artists and dance fans utilize online spaces pre-pandemic? Based on the book Perpetual Motion: Dance, Digital Cultures, and the Common (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), this presentation considers how dance circulates, how it manifests belonging, and how it is transmitted within and beyond dance communities through online platforms.

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Kirsten Maar (Berlin)
Ecologies on the move (DE)
Termin: Fr 27.10. | 19.00h || Date: Fri Oct 27th | 7.00 p.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

Seit einigen Jahren beschäftigen sich auch Tanz sowie Tanzwissenschaft mit Fragen post-humanistischer Choreographie und Fragen des Ökologischen. Dabei hat sich der Begriff der Ökologie von seiner alleinigen Bedeutung im Kontext des Umweltschutzes gelöst und reicht in Bereiche von Anthropozentrismuskritik, human-non-human-relationships, Actor-Network-Theorien oder die Choreographie von Infrastrukturen hinein. Mit dieser Ent-Naturalisierung hin zu einer Ökologie des Sozialen, der Beziehungen und Verteilungen, ist zugleich auch die Dimension des oikos – des „Haushaltes“ – als einem Gefüge gegenseitiger Abhängigkeiten adressiert. Jedoch birgt die ubiquitäre Betonung des Relationalen im „Capitaloscene“ zugleich auch die Gefahr, im Anknüpfen an vitalistische Ideen, den Bereich der Kunst irreführend als Ort der Erlösung zu markieren (Nachtigall 2017). Der Beitrag fragt insofern danach, wie neue, neoliberale Produktionsbedingungen das Verhältnis zu unserer Umgebung verändert haben und wie sich diese im Verhältnis von Kunst und Arbeit spiegeln. Welche Bewegungen, welche Choreographien, welche scores haben wie dazu beigetragen?

Prof. Dr. Kate Elswit (London)
Dance Data, Embodied Knowledge, and Historical Inquiry: Reflections from Dunham's Data (EN)
Termin: Sa 28.10. | 10.30h || Date: Sat Oct 28th | 10.30 a.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

This talk reflects on experiences and outcomes from the project Dunham’s Data: Katherine Dunham and Digital Methods for Dance Historical Inquiry led by Kate Elswit and Harmony Bench (2018-2022), which feed into their ongoing collaborative work toward a practice of visceral data analysis, including Visceral Histories, Visual Arguments: Dance-Based Approaches to Data (2022-2025). Based on the premise that dance can make greater use of digital methods, while simultaneously acknowledging that existing methods for digital research were not made for the complexity of embodiment as understood within the field of dance, Dunham’s Data focused on the questions and problems that make the curation, analysis, and visualization of data meaningful for dance history. The talk collects key findings regarding the capacity of such methodologies to expand the scope and scale of dance historical inquiry beyond traditional mid-range scholarly frames of the individual figure and the anecdote, to instead account for hundreds of thousands of individual data points that in turn may offer insights across bodies of work, networks of collaborators, and decades of touring. The conclusion touches on further research that expands our propositions for a data-led dance history through oral history and historical motion data, as well as the sensory potential of visualizing historical dance data in and as movement.

Prof. Dr. Marie-Luise Angerer (Potsdam)
String Figures: Über abhängige Gewichtungen (DE)
Termin: Sa 28.10. | 19.30h || Date: Sat Oct 28th | 7.30 p.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

In „Der Unterstrom des Materialismus der Begegnung“ beginnt Althusser mit dem Regen und greift dafür die Frage von Nicolas Malebranche auf, warum denn der Regen auch ins Meer falle, wenn dort doch genug Wasser schon vorhanden sei. Denn der Regen führt dem Meer eigentlich nichts hinzu. Doch genau dieses Moment ist im Denken der Philosophiegeschichte immer ignoriert worden, weshalb der marxistische Philosoph einen „Materialismus (...) des Regens, der Abweichung, der Begegnung und des Greifens“ einfordert (Althusser, 2010: 21). Um dies jedoch zu denken, bedarf es, so Althusser weiter, sich der Kontingenz auszusetzen, den Formen und Effekten der Begegnung, aus welchen sich Gestalten entfalten. Übertragen auf den Tanz und seine Miteinbeziehung von Maschinen soll hier der Versuch unternommen werden, die Zufälligkeit dieser Bewegungen und Begegnungen stark zu machen – in einem Milieu von Kontrolle (auf Seiten der Tänzer*innen) und Berechnung (auf Seiten der Maschinen und Apparate). Die von Althusser geforderte Kontingenz, das Zufällige der Begegnung und die Notwendigkeit des Greifens und Ergriffen-Werdens sollen dabei mit Konzeptionen des Neuen Materialismus begrifflich nachvollziehbar werden.

Dr. Zihao Michael Li (Hong Kong)
Leveraging AGI in Performing Arts Teaching, Learning, and Research (EN)
Termin: So 29.10. | 10.30h  ||  Date: Sun Oct 29th | 10.00 a.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln
In the field of computer science, Artificial intelligence (AI) aims to create machines and systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as learning, decision-making, and natural language processing. AGI is a theoretical type of artificial intelligence (AI) that can do every intellectual work that a person can, in a variety of settings and domains. Although AGI is frequently seen as the ultimate of AI, it also presents substantial difficulties and moral dilemmas. Dance has always been an art form that is deeply rooted in physical expression and emotional interpretation. However, recent technological advancements in the field of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) have opened up new avenues for dance teaching, learning, and research. With the help of AGI tools, dance educators and researchers can now analyze movement patterns, provide personalized feedback, and even generate new choreographies. In this talk, Li will investigate the potential of integrating AGI tools in dance teaching, learning, and research to transform the field in exciting ways. From providing feedback and generating new choreography to designing graphics, and personalizing presentations, these tools offer a wealth of possibilities for dance scholars, educators, and performers. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more innovative AGI tools emerge, further revolutionizing the way we approach dance education and research. Also, in this session, I'll discuss the possible advantages and challenges of using artificial general intelligence (AGI) to dance education and research.



Dr. Sebastian Matthias (Braunschweig)
Made You Look. Demeanor and Movement Reception in TikTok Dance Trends (DE)
Termin: Fr 27.10. | 16.00h || Date: Fri Oct 27th | 4.00 p.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

Der Wednesday-Dance aus der Netflix-Serie Wednesday oder der Tanz zum populären Song Made You Look von Meghan Trainor sind jüngere Beispiele für die Popularität von kurzen Tänzen, die den Aufstieg von TikTok als wichtigste Medienplattform für die Generation Z mitgeprägt haben. Eine genaue Analyse der Gesten ermöglicht sich diesen Tänzen choreographisch zu nähern und die algorithmische Funktionsweise dieser Tänze zu beleuchten. Mit dem Verständnis der Haltung nach Berthold Brecht lässt sich zeigen, wie sich auf TikTok die Tanzrezeption zu einer Fokussierung auf das Idiosynkratische wie des Tanzes verschiebt. In der Betrachtung der Haltung entsteht eine intime, persönliche Beziehung, die sich von der Performance ablöst und in dem sich die Rezipienten wiedererkennen können. Mimik, Bewegungsqualität, geteilte Codes und das Offenlegen der Produktionsweisen durch Unterbrechung markieren im Tanz eine parasoziale Glaubwürdigkeit, die die Nutzer*innen zur vollständigen Rezeption animieren. Das Spannungsfeld zwischen idiosynkratischer Haltung und kalkulierter Performance zeichnet das Interesse an Videos auf TikTok aus und beeinflusst dessen Funktion in der Veröffentlichung. Durch die Logik des recommendation forward-Algorithmus produziert Rezeptionszeit und Interaktion eine Sichtbarkeit und weniger die Followerschaft eine*r speziellen Produzent*in. Die Haltung und Performance werden damit zu kritischen Kategorien, die eine Öffentlichkeit auf TikTok produzieren und dessen Diskurse mithervorbringen.
Associate Prof. Anurima Banerji (Los Angeles)/ Prof. Dr. Royona Mitra (London)/ Associate Prof. Anusha Kedhar (Riverside)
"It’s Gender, Not Caste”: A Digital Ethnography of Indian “Classical” Dance and the Negation of Intersectionality (EN)
Termin: Fr 27.10. | 17.15h || Date: Fri Oct 27th | 5.15 p.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

In recent years, caste justice has emerged as a central concern in the field of Indian dance. While historically the field has focused on questions of class, gender, religion, sexuality, and nationalism, caste has been a marginal concern, even as it remains a major force in shaping social relations and arts practices in India, its diasporas. While the general scholarship on Indian dance has been relatively silent on the question of caste, the digital sphere has been decidedly noisy. The recent turn towards a caste reckoning in Indian dance studies, initiated by anti-caste dance artists who self-identify as caste-oppressed, has taken place largely online – leading to prominent and field-altering discussions of caste and other connected social hierarchies in the dance ecology. Yet, one of the most sustained erasures of these important anti-caste interventions has been the position that “gender, not caste” is the real oppressive system to reckon with in Indian performance. This position has been reified by dominant-caste dancers and arts commentators in emergent digital discourses on Indian “classical" dance. In this paper, deploying the method of digital ethnography, we wish to interrogate the nature of public discourse on gender-based violence and discrimination and its sustained dismissal of caste oppression in cases related to three prominent dance institutions in India: Kathak Kendra, the premier center for training in the Kathak dance; Kalakshetra, an internationally esteemed space for the study of Bharatanatyam; and, a well-known web-based platform on Indian dance. 

Dance Research and Digital Transformation
(EN/DE) nur vor Ort/ on-site only
Termin: Sa 28.10. | 12.00-13.30h || Date: Sat Oct 28th | 12 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Ort/place: Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln

DE Das Forum Dance Research and Digital Transformationen richtet sich an alle Teilnehmenden des Symposiums: Theater- und Tanzwissenschaftler*innen, Mitarbeiter*innen der Gedächtnisinstitutionen sowie Künstler*innen und Forschende der Digital Humanities in allen Karrierephasen. Mit kurzen, exemplarischen Präsentationen sollen – ausgehend von der Vorstellung bestehender Infrastrukturen und Service-Angebote in NFDI4Culture und im FID DK – Möglichkeiten zur Vernetzung und zum Austausch auf inhaltlicher, wie auch auf digital-technischer Ebene vermittelt werden. Gemeinsam sollen Lösungsansätze sondiert werden, die zu einer Verbesserung der digitalen Repräsentanz und Vernetzung von fachspezifischen Forschungsdaten beitragen können. Dadurch sollen Allianzen zwischen Forschung und Lehre bzw. Ausbildung, den Sammlungseinrichtungen und der künstlerischen Praxis neu etabliert oder vertieft und für zukünftige Kooperationen erweitert werden.
EN The Dance Research and Digital Transformations forum is aimed at all participants in the symposium: theater and dance scholars, employees of memory institutions as well as artists and researchers in the digital humanities in all career phases. With short, exemplary presentations - based on the presentation of existing infrastructures and service offerings in NFDI4Culture and the FID DK - opportunities for networking and exchange on a content as well as a digital-technical level are to be conveyed. Together, solutions will be explored that can contribute to improving the digital representation and networking of subject-specific research data. In this way, alliances between research and teaching or training, the collection institutions and artistic practice are to be re-established or deepened and expanded for future collaborations.

Prof. Dr. Christo Doherty (Johannesburg)
Close Encounters with the Virtual Digital Bodes in South African Dance (EN)
Termin: Sa 28.10. | 14.30h || Date: Sat Oct 28th | 2.30 p.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

In this lecture Doherty will assess the first attempt to stage an entire dance festival through the virtual medium of the WhatsApp messaging platform. MyBody MySpace is an established rural contemporary dance festival in South Africa with a commitment to site specific work and a strong political and community engagement around post-apartheid questions of land access and inequality. In 2021, in response to the crippling Covid-19 restrictions which had devastated most live performance in South Africa, the festival organizers took the bold decision to go entirely virtual. What happened when such a festival attempted to translate itself into a such a restricted virtual space? What implications did this have for the performers, and for audiences of the dance event? Doherty will examine the example of this digital translation against the history of virtual dance performance in South Africa.

Prof. Dr. Antje Budde (Toronto)
Movement. Patterns. – Moving A/I in projects of the Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared (DDL2) (EN)
Termin: Sa 28.10. | 16.30h || Date: Sat Oct 28th | 4.30 p.m.
Ort/place: ZZT/HfMT Köln

A/I or Artistic intelligence is a concept interwoven with the praxis of digital dramaturgy as experimental performance as developed in the DDL2 in the context and as a critique of AI or artificial intelligence. Central to this praxis is embodied learning through deeply conceptualized movement of bodies/objects/ideas/justice/time/space. Such praxis and philosophy materializes in many forms: performances, focused conversations, workshops, courses for students, political actions. This lecture will introduce ways of how movement patterns are envisioned, made, and embodied in hybrid space/time and contemporary entanglements with the before and after, past and present, engaging the anarcheological and futurist mind.


Here are two hotel options for your stay:

Centro Hotel Royal Köln
address: Hansaring 96, 50670 Köln (via public transport in 10 minutes to CCD, to DTK 12 minutes walking)
price: single room € 99/night incl. breakfast, three-bed room € 139/night incl. breakfast
Reservation: We blocked several rooms. In order to receive the discount, refer to the code “Virtual Ecologies” when booking a room at Centro Hotel Royal and ask for a reservation form by September 25th, 2023.
Hotel Viktoria Köln
address: Worringer Str. 23, 50668 Köln (via public transport in 20 minutes to CCD and DTK)
costs: single room around € 99/night breakfast incl., double room around € 110/night.
Reservation: We blocked several rooms. In order to receive the discount, refer to the code “Virtual Ecologies” when booking a room by September 25th, 2023.


Conference and Call for Papers:

(Virtual) Ecologies in the field of Dance - International Annual Conference of the Society for Dance Research (GTF)

October 27-29, 2023

The CCD hosts, conceives and organizes this year's annual conference of the Society for Dance Research - in cooperation with the German Dance Archive Cologne and with the collaboration of the Sociology of Movement and Sports at the University of Marburg and the Department of Animation and Time-Based Practices at the École de Recherche Graphique Brussels.

Our call for papers addresses , scholars, artists and practitioners of diverse backgrounds who would like to take a closer look at such developments and issues. We welcome submissions of concepts for lectures, research presentations, workshops or interdisciplinary settings that challenge and investigate the polarity of off/online in a broader dance-related sense. What connections, networks, accessibilities can we imagine, observe, construct, analyze between 'virtualities' and 'ecologies' in dance today?

The formats selected via the call will be framed by lectures and workshops of invited international guests such as Harmony Bench, Zihao Li, Kate Elswit, Marie-Luise Angerer or dgtl fmns with impulses on feminist AI, digital dramaturgies, the influence of the pandemic on educational realities in the performing arts or the role of digital methods for historical dance research.

Deadline for proposals: April 15, 2023

Call for Papers

April 2023

Symposium "form/RELAY/content – a Symposium on Artistic Material in Music and Dance": form/RELAY/content brings artistic and scientific contributions and formats on Artistic Material in Music and Dance into dialogue. With performances, lectures, dance-based and sound-based formats, feedforward and feedback moments as well as talks, the event negotiates the theme “Content/RELAY/Form” from the perspective of dance and music.

November 2019

Transposium: In response to the exhibition "HIER UND JETZT im Museum Ludwig. Transcorporealities" the Centre for Contemporary Dance will present additional perspectives on transcorporeality in a one-day transposium. Performances, artistic research formats, and scholarly investigations in the fields of dance, performance, and sociology will be brought into dialogue with one another.

November 2018

Symposium "Music/Dance: Transformative Practices": The interdisciplinary symposium deals with the relationship between music and dance, especially with regard to practices that generate transformative states, take advantage of them or result in them (trance, ecstasy, meditation, etc.).

May 2018

Symposium "Body-Feedback-Education": The international symposium, which interlinks lectures and discussions with co-teaching and open-sharing-formats, focuses on the nexus of body-feedback-education in a setting that practices both theoretically and practically what it means to be Doing-Feedback.

August 2016

Conference on “Avant Guard Dance around the Judson Dance Theater and their Relationship to Music.“, in cooperation with the Beethoven Fest Bonn 2016 and the Philharmony Cologne.

July 2014

6. Choreography - Conference: „Choreography and Imagination“ at the Center for Contemporary Dane at the HfMT in cooperation with the Theater studies collection at the university in Cologne (Castle Wahn) funded through the Rhein Energy Foundation.

May 2012

Symposium on Yvonne Rainer: „Inter-medial constellations“, in cooperation with the museum Ludwig, Köln within the frame of an exhibition on Yvonne Rainer, funded through the Thyssen-Stiftung

July 2011

5. Choreography-Conference: „Choreography-Gender-Media“ at the Center for Contemporary Dance in Cologne, in cooperation with the Academy for Media Arts Cologne (Prof. Dr. Marie-Luise Angerer), funded through the Rhein Energy Stiftung and from funds from the Commission for Equal Opportunity at the HfMT

May 2010

4. Choreography-Conference: „Choreography and Institution“  at the Center for Contemporary Dance, HfMT on the theme: Choreography and Institution, in cooperation with Friederike Lampert, financed through Tanzpan Deutschland.