Our Dance Democracy 2: Presenters Abstracts

Full abstracts will be available to all delegates prior to the event but here is just a sample of what will be delivered and discussed.


Day One 11th February 2021

Opening Keynote

Professor Victor Merriman: We Are Where We Are’: Dancing A Fractured World

‘We Are Where We Are’ considers how performers might navigate the present as a crisis of ideas and values. How might dance practices and performers make questions of power, class, gender and race central to better futures? How might artists project humane imaginaries beyond, not where ‘we’ are, but where ‘we’ have been positioned?

Dance and Resistance

Victoria Hunter: Site Dance and Urban Resistance

Drawing on discourses of neoliberalism (Harvey 2005, Kratzwald 2015, Whybrow 2010), urban performativity (Makeham 2005, Jacobs 1961, Seamon 1980) and urban design (Childs 2004, Carter 2015) the presentation explores urban parks and squares as stages for ‘everyday’ performances invoked by design, narratives, function and regulatory conditions. It questions; what level of engagement exists between site and the dance work performed in these spaces, what do such performance experiences tell us regarding the site’s contextual make up and what (whose?) purpose might this work serve?


Susanne Foellmer: Movement Forbidden: Using Choreography as a Means of Protest in Times of Curfew.

The interweaving of dance and protest is a common phenomenon in recent social movements such as the regular flash mob One Billion Rising. Generally, bodies gathering in the public sphere are crucial in the struggle for social and political justice. But what happens if the physical public sphere is not available, as induced by the ongoing pandemic? How does protest change, and how can dance and choreography support the ongoing need for making one’s voice heard?


Performative Lecture

Michael Douglas Kollektiv and Dana Caspersen: Polarity Party

Participants are invited to consider the questions: What is polarization? What does it do in us? What do we do with it? The Polarity Party offers a situation where we can focus on the mechanism of polarization itself and our role in – this will be an experiment in delivering this event online as it is usually presented live.


Film : Circadian Rosemary Lee

Performer Nicky Gibbs at dawn. Photo Roswitha Chesher Circadian (2020) a short dance film by Rosemary Lee and Roswitha Chesher. From one afternoon to the next over the summer solstice weekend 2019, one of 24 dancers, ranging in age from 10-70+ years, performed a short solo on the hour every hour. Premiered at the First Light Festival, Lowestoft, Suffolk, and set against a landscape of changing skies, sea and light, each performance of Rosemary Lee’s Circadian was accompanied with the same absorbing song performed live by singer/composer Isaac Lee-Kronick. Beginning with the youngest and ending with the eldest, each dancer brought their unique quality to this repeating, ritualistic performance. This captures moments from each dancer’s solo through daylight, dusk, moonlight and dawn weaving them together to create a new ensemble work for screen.

​The screening will be followed by a short talk by Rosemary Lee about the ideas behind Circadian as a concept and she will answer questions.


Dance and Identity

Professor Thomas F Defrantz – Black thought in motion

How are artists crafting unusual approaches to digital presence and formations of dance pedagogy and sharing? An offering of means and methods to encourage participation in digital offerings of thinking together towards movement that will be made in physical distancing.


Sharon Watson DL – Displaced positivity and the power of voice

When do we seize an opportunity and where do we enable the power of our lived experiences to drive change? How do we add power and impact to our voice? How can we ensure the messenger is the one embraced and not just the message? This needs to change.



The Tea Towel Dances workshop builds on the recent experiences of teaching online from my kitchen during lockdown. Tea Towel Dances emerged from the necessity to activate and communicate sensitized and affective touch as an embodied and creative experience across a screen. For ODD2, this workshop invites an exploration into the reciprocity between the tea towel and moving participant, with the aim to unfold personal narratives and a space to question encounters with interculturalism across digital boundaries.

Please bring a tea towel to this session.


Dance and Identity

Thea Stanton: Immersion: Negotiating Boundaries, Difference and Democracy

This paper asks whether the creation of an immersive experience through a choreographic embodied lens could help address these concerns. Acknowledging the pioneering works of companies such as the Judson Church Group who’s participatory performances were at the forefront of ‘the threefold agenda of ‘activation, authorship, community’ (Kolb, 2013), the presentation explores the use of movement practices that embrace a decentralization of decision-making and nurture an inter-subjective awareness in order to develop an immersive practice that embraces an ethic of respect and care.

Rosa Cisneros: Artists as critical workers

This paper responds to the notion of artists as critical workers and explores the manner which the Dancing Bodies in Coventry (DBiC) project is exploring questions around boundaries, borders, exclusion and buried histories. DBiC brought forward “lesser known” independent dance artists and voices that are hidden, such as Refugee and Migrants and the Roma from Romania.


Film: Unseen Designs, Bisakha Sarker

The film reflects in dance, spoken word, music and image on current scientific thought and hopes to evoke greater curiosity amongst the general public on the mysteries of the world around us


Key note

Dr. Elena Marchevska :There Are Other Worlds[1]

In this talk I will reflect on my most recent practice as research collaborative projects ‘Finding home’ (2018-2020) and ‘Third nature’(2020). I will look into how ways of studying and representing migrants can have world-making effects. How do we talk about the meaning of care from our own migrant marginalized experience of everyday caring? In this projects, we collaboratively think of different worlds. Worlds where it not enough to detect what is there, what is given in the things we study and experience about migration, but also worlds where we think about what is not included and about what migrant could become. Worlds that are constantly rethought, contested and enriched.


Closing Act


Raconteur 1 Wendy Houstoun rounds up the highlights of the day

Film: Kontrol, Patricia Carolin Mai

KONTROL is a solo performance by and with Patricia Carolin Mai, and the epilogue to the trilogy “bodies in states of emergency”. KONTROL is an intense experiment on competing with your own body. Former swimmer Mai reminds us how our bodies are shaped with certain preconditions of the ideal physique. Supervised by sports scientist Patrick Rump, she trains her body to achieve its maximum performance through science-based-training that also high level athletes are utilizing. Why: in order for the body to be, or to remain visible it must acquire numerous images. The process is not necessarily subject to an individual design, but rather to the normative offers of given body images and social practices of optimization. With the intention to turn her own repertory of images to a critical and practical reflection, she started a 12-month transformation process of supposed androgynisation through extreme muscle building. On stage the result of her metamorphosis will become visible: the ambiguity of a well-trained body, yet particularly fragile and unknown to her.

KONTROL is for all people who are enthusiastic about dance, performance, visual arts and extreme sports and who deal with gender justice and the right to free self-determination. KONTROL is a production by Patricia Carolin Mai; co-produced by Kampnagel Hamburg and LOFFT – DAS THEATER Leipzig. Funded by Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg, Fonds Darstellende Künste, Stadt Leipzig, Kulturamt, Claussen-Simon-Stiftung and Rudolf Augstein Stiftung. Supported by Hilfsfonds “Kunst kennt keinen Shutdown”, Kunstraum D21 Leipzig, MS ARTVILLE, Seoul Dance Center and Citofonare PimOff Milano.

The guestplay at ODD2 is supported by the NATIONALES PERFORMANCE NETZ International Guest Performance Fund for Dance, which is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Artistic Director, Concept, Choreography and Dance: Patricia Carolin Mai Sports Science and Sports Medical Care: Patrick Rump GJUUM Choreographic Collaboration: Lotta Janina Timm Dramaturgy: Anne Kersting Stage Design and Photography: Hanna Naske Sound Composition: Fanis Gioles Costume Design: Felina Levits Light Design: Ricarda Schnoor Light Engineering: Jana Köster Artistic Collaboration, Stage Design Assistance: Julika Schlegel Audience Development and Aesthetics of Production: Kirsten Bremehr Video Design DoP & Editor: Jan M. Brinkmann, David Czinczoll Stage Photography: Öncü Gültekin, Jana Kühle Outside eye: Anja Kerschkewicz Scientific Advice: Britta Lübke Creative Producing and Press: Stückliesel

[1] Inspiration drawn from Sun Ra’s There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)