Tanztheather Theory – Online Class

Wednesday Oct 14th | Choreo, Impro and theory

Great progress today working on how we can find the link between an idea into movements.
First we worked on gestures as a very lively tool to tell stories and secondly we talked about the idea of What is it made of?

Wednesday Oct 7th | Choreo, Impro and theory

We started with some general music improvisation as a warm up game. Many different types of genre and moods.

We then looked again at the Speed of thought idea and picked 5 different emotional states and created two movements for each state that should be accompanied with an actual and precise thought to enhance performance quality.

Lastly we worked on these impro tasks today:

Find 3 ways to :
Count something in your room without using your eyes
Be a giant for some small scale item in your room
Predict the future in a mildly questionable way

Here is the video:

Wednesday Sept 23rd | Choreo, Impro and theory

We started with a simple improvisation of finding 4 movements for any body part followed by giving a partner an order of six body parts which then got converted into a short phrase.

We then talked about the ‚Sandwich‘ in which we tried to relate two body parts with one another and move both in accordance to a dynamic. (We also used the special chest positions (see ‚The Might Chest‘ below)

Body part
Body part

And finally we worked one of the following tasks:

Impro Tasks:
If I was living on a star and people came to me and asked me: What are the rules of this star of yours? What would you answer?
Mix all the colours of the world and paint your soul. Now do the same with movements
Take the liberty of creating something entirely insignificant
Is a lake more grateful for the clouds or for the rain?
What is needed to balance out generosity?

Here is the video:

Wednesday Sept 16th | Choreo, Impro and theory

Great first class back from the summer break.

We started off with a fun online version of a children clapping game and then created three phrases with 5 dynamics each. One phrase only with the upper body, another with gestures only and the third with mostly arms.

And finally we created individual phrases based on some improvisation tasks.

Here is the video of the session:

Wednesday July 29th | Choreo, Impro and theory

Today we started by refining the specific chest movements that are unique to the Tanztheater aesthetic. 

Here is the video with a little demonstration and also the muscle anatomy of the movements involved in these special postitions:

Then I offered a helpful guideline to answer questions of the third column in our system for creation, the immaterial column. 

The doodle below examines the Triangle of Why, What and How.
Why being the initial question of interest (for your piece or scene or just an idea you want to explore and create with). 
Then go down the four levels of the filter and keep What you consider important or interesting. 
Once the essence is reached (essence = an essential answer to the initial question that answers all levels of the filter) you then bring the essence back to the surface (stage) so the How describes the way you choose to depict the drop of essence you get from going through the levels of the filter. 


And finally we went back to the exercise in which you gave a task of your liking to a partner that the partner then answers using anything we have covered in this online course. 

Wednesday July 22nd | Choreo, Impro and theory

Today we started with the ‚holy grail‘ of Tanztheater, a principle I call The Mighty Chest
The positions of the upper body are crucial to the flowing element of the Tanztheater aesthetic and the combination of something beautiful and unexpected. 

The positions are: 

  • Simple contraction
  • Simple high release
  • Simple tilt

While the above positions are used in many other dance styles, the following two are unique to Tanztheater:

  • DownRotationContraction (DRC)
  • UpRotationFrontHighRelease (URFHR)

I then asked to comine these elements into one phrase: 

  • Tilt simple plus kiss
  • Contraction while evil muhaha
  • DownTiltContraction (DTC) plus collecting water, flowers or feathers
  • Simple high release plus smiling sunrise
  • UpTiltFrontHighRelease (UTHR) plus stroking fur or beard
  • Something fun

Here is the video of this exercise: 

Wednesday July 15st | Choreo, Impro and theory

We started with the two stories in which one group tells a story with words and the other groups reacts through movement. 

We then went on to this task: 

  • Find 5 positions in your room
  • Connect all 5 positions with different emotional state and different speed of movement (not space)
  • Formulate an actual sentence for each transition (speed of thought)
    Ex: Puppet master please stop pulling your strings for muscle resistence

Here is the video: 

Wednesday July 8st | Choreo, Impro and theory

We started with the fun game of preparing two Why– Questions and two Because-Answers, which should be random and not linked. We then asked one question to anyone in the group and they answered with one of their prepared answers. This game is to see how many hidden connections exist that are usually not very evident from the beginning.

I then asked you to answer both of your original question. 

We continued by talking about how to use the space around us, which we then combined with two ‚elements‘ (literally anything of interest) from this webpage.
The important lesson here is the decision making process.

And lastly I gave you these five tasks to choose from:

  • The wisdom of trees
  • Something you do to rest your mind
  • Water, Ice and Vapour
  • Create friction in three different ways
  • Things I hide on a weekday

Here is a video (from one task only, sorry for not recording the whole class)

Wednesday July 1st | Choreo, Impro and theory

Wonderful session today. In loving memory of Pina’s death 11 years ago the session was really emotional and some wonderful material was generated.

After some general warm up we looked at these painting and chose one of them to create a sequence which we combined with the Principles.

We also looked at two examples from my work how a psychological or philosophical idea can initiate and drive a creation process.

And finally I gave a simple task to create whatever you wanted to create.
The task was: A gift to Pina!

Here is what you have created (some wonderful material by the way)

Wednesday June 24th | Choreo, Impro and theory

Today we shortly talked about the use of Music, Props and Text/ Speech in the Tanztheater approach.


And then we spent a good amount of time to create based on these tasks:

Here is the video:



Wednesday June 17th | Choreo, Impro and theory

After repeating all Principles and Dynamics again in depth, we looked at the system of creation as a whole again and are now looking more and more at how to use the system to create.

First, we looked at a general guideline of which part of the system can be helpful according to your desired outcome:

We then continued to look at each column and how it relates to the three important factors of Technical skill, Control and Authenticity.
(Control refers to the control you have as the creator, not the performer)
Usually, the less you control the elements of your  creation but allow the philosophical idea of ‚The most honest answer on the deepest level possible‚ to guide the process the more authentic your finding will be.
We also search for a good balance though in any creation so it might be helpful to use an approach to create that balance even if it is not your preferred approach.

And finally we had a glimpse of what I want to do next week which is for you to create something of your own using the system:

In case it is easier, here are the same tasks right next to the system for cross reference:


Wednesday June 10th | Choreo, Impro and theory

In today’s the session we covered the Aesthetics of Tanztheater and the Bigger Picture with a special look at the the areas of Psychology, Philosophy and Social Science and finally we looked at the Legacy of Tanztheater.

We started off though by looking at the last element of the System for Creation: The expression of a state.

For that we used the following Medicine cards and tried to connect the physical state of the animal with the emotional state generated by the poetic words.
Take a look here:


If you have taken all classes so far, you have now dived into every element of the System for Creation. From next week we will take that step further and not just understand it but also start to use it properly.


But before we use the system to create material I thought it was helpful to put Tanztheater into the bigger context so let’s look at these elements:

Now we should have a much better understanding of all the different elements Tanztheater uses in order to be able to create something that is bigger and deeper than just the dance itself.

Wednesday June 3rd | Choreo, Impro and theory

Today we talked about Hands and Gestures.
Especially the Rotation of the fingers is really useful to generate bigger movements that start from the the little finger or thumbs.
(See improvisation and short gesture phrase in the video below)

Then we continued by diving into the important XYZ phrase which enables you to create versatile and exciting sequences.
For today’s session I asked you to include all elements into one phrase:

And finally we talked about the last column of the system for creation, which is the immaterial Question Improvisation.
First, we talked about how we can create the best questions that help us create individual and exciting elements we can stage. The questions or statements should include some sort of friction or contradiction and should be open to various interpretations to let the dancers create whatever they feel is the most honest answer they can give.
We use the Theme, State, Example and Task|Question|Statement as such:

This is a strong tool to get really authentic answers, which can be given in the way of an actual dance phrase or using speech and song or by doing an action, all inspired by the emotional state that the question or task evokes.

Today we used these questions, tasks or statements:

And here is the video recording of the session:

Wednesday May 27th | Choreo, Impro and theory

We started with the ‚Emotion Generator‘ using Letters A-F for an emotional state and numbers 1-6 for an action.
You choose three letter-number combinations (Example: 5B, 2F, 6C) and then connect action and state.

Here are the elements of actions:
1) Wash or swipe hands
2) Take a sip
3) Sit down
4) Open window
5) Hoover or clean
6) read

And here the way of how to do it:
A) aggressively
B) hesitantly
C) totally confused
D) overexcited
E) hyperactive
F) lethargically

Then we continued to explore the middle column of our System for Creation. We looked at the way to create material by searching on precise tasks and by finding different ways to solve the same task.
We usually say to find 3-5 different ways to depict something.
Some examples are below:

Here is the video of the session:

Wednesday May 20th | Choreo, Impro and theory

Despite the poor internet connection we worked on the fascinating principle of ‚Speed of Thought‘

Unfortunately I couldn’t film the responses to the task, but we will do that again next Wednesday.

Below is the idea of this principle.

Remember the more precise the thought the better the performance quality and authenticity.
Example: Happiness
Don’t just try to think about the big theme (I feel happy) while you move but rather think about a precise moment:
I feel happy when the sun is softly touching my face.
Big emotions are too abstract to physically depict in a clear way.

Wednesday May 13th | Choreo, Impro and theory

If you missed our first session, here are the main things we worked on:

We talked a little bit about the History of Tanztheater and ‚Ausdruckstanz‘ mentioning:
(Click on link for more information)

Then we looked at the general System for creation highlighting the three different ways to reach an element you can show on stage.

  • Using Principles and Dynamics to create fixed choreography
  • Giving body improvisation tasks
  • Giving immaterial improvisation tasks (Question-Answering approach)

We then continued to learn the following phrase:

The task was then to figure out  which dynamics and principles were used for each movement of the short phrase.

Here is the same video with the list of dynamics (white) and principles (red)

And lastly you were asked to create your own phrase using the following Principles and Dynamics:

And here is the video of those attended: