How did we set up the Lab? What were the thoughts behind it? 

The starting point for this Lab was deeply grounded in the transdisciplinary profile of our Hochschule for Music and Dance Cologne. Out of this intertwined perspective the teachers of the dance and music faculty involved in the Lab filled the term “reflection” with life: in exchanging expertise, experiences, and in discovering so-called ‘blind spots’.   


The methodological framework for letting the phenomenon of reflection emerge as an embodied process is built on the following aspects:

• to discover reflection as embedded in corporeal processes and as something the “mindful body” does and not as something which arises solely from intellectual brain work, 

• to become more aware of the diversity of bodily choices and perceptions,

• to think of the body as a source of impulses and a venue for reflection,

• and from this, to create ideas and pedagogical situations that allow this potential to be applied in teaching and learning spaces at Higher Education Institutions in the Arts.


Focusing the body as a medium for reflection, also means focusing on trained bodily codes and habits and critically re-thinking them. 


Which assumptions do we carry with us?

Especially as dancers but also as musicians we want to train our body, to find a technique which enables us to perform virtuously and to express our artistry. We learn bodily strategies to regulate nervousness, to lose or to build up tension, to breathe and focus. We spend time to avoid bodily illnesses, pains and to stay healthy. We take the body as a source for prophylaxis.  


Which bodily patterns are we familiar with? 

Especially as performing artists in music we are familiar with a very strict repertoire of bodily patterns during a performance: We go on stage. We play while standing or sometimes sitting or sometimes changing in between. We bow after performing, go off the stage again. We move our hands, our whole body, we breathe, we touch our instrument or the music, we realize the movements of the bodies around. But once it comes to the performance of sound, to the inner musical activities, what role does my body play? Is the body the place where I locate my artistic expertise? In hearing and evaluating and analyzing sound, which role does my body play? And how can these bodily patterns be enriched by states of dancing?


The Lab built on the strong believe in the entanglement of moving, sounding, and wording. Three core thematic phenomena were in the focus, which enabled us to realize these mentioned entanglements as part of our artistic practice.

These are the three core elements of “Embodied Reflection” that we offered:


1. Space as creator and medium of embodied reflection

2. Embodied reflection as multisensory inquiry

3. Explorative interconnections between moving, hearing, sounding


1. Space as creator and medium of embodied reflection

This thematic part was embedded in the workshop “Doing space – sensing space”, which was led by Lars Frers, Professor for Sociology of Space at the Universitet i Sorost-Norge in Norway.


The central question of this workshop part was:  How do I perceive myself as intertwined with spatial relations and how does this effect my artistic practice? The aim was to discover embodied reflection as radical materialized inter-connections between actors, materials and spaces involved.

One part of this workshop was to move in small groups of 3-4 participants in urban spaces (also in trains) and to listen carefully to the acoustic environment through Zoom recorders. This sound recording fieldwork enabled a research atmosphere, in which the participants were actively involved in public affairs and conditions of the public scene. In the video documentation this intertwined set-up of bodily listening strategies, zoom recorders and the public sphere can be observed.


Here you will find the detailed workshop description. 


2. Embodied Reflection as Multisensory Inquiry

The second core element of our RAPP Lab week was multisensory perception and led to the workshop “No Conclusions: Multisensory Inquiry into Practice” under the direction of Nina Sun Eidsheim, professor for musicology and voice studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Some questions that this workshop wanted to highlight include: How can we develop an awareness of the different senses, besides the central parameters we automatically rely on? Hearing sounds with our ears, seeing and reading the music on a score or in mind with our eyes, seeing bodies dancing or touching each other. The aim of this workshop was to let a “Criss-cross of the senses” make us aware about reflection as a holistic phenomenon: How does your sound taste? How does your gesture smell? Which sound, which movement inspires you after touching a stone? How can we overcome listening and sounding strategies that focus only on the aural mode? How does it affect my understanding of being an artist, while not trusting anymore only on what I acoustically hear, but also on what I smell, taste or touch?  


In her research publications Nina Eidsheim develops an understanding of sound as a vibrational matter and unfolds the already connected entities of sounding/listening and bodily states of moving: “What connects singing, listening, and sound, then, is vibration. Indeed, what connects the physical, full-body activities and experiences that take place during both singing and listening is the transmission and transduction of vibration.” (Nina Sun Eidsheim, Sensing Sound. Singing & Listening as Vibrational Practice, 2015, 181)

Her terminology of sounding as a multisensory practice constitutes the basis for her workshop activities in our Lab. You can find the whole workshop description here.


Further Material offered:

• Interview-format “1000 ways home” (see practical guide)


3. Explorative Interconnections between moving, sounding and wording

The third thematic element of our Lab focused on the entanglements between moving, sounding/performing and wording/describing: How does the deep intertwining of movement and sound affect me in coming into flow? How does the entanglement of sound as movement, movement as sound enables me to find new ideas, to take risks, to show myself vulnerable? 


For realizing these entangled experiences of movement, words and sounds we created a two-part workshop:


  1. „Walk & Talk ? … (or: feeding back, forward and around)“ with Jan Burkhardt, Evelyn Buyken and Constanze Schellow. 

This workshop part was implemented as a daily warm-up during the Lab. 

Walking together was understood: a practice of communication between the choreographic (dance) body and the musical (sounding) body. an oscillation, negotiation, interweaving, resonation of motor movement, sound movement and word movement an invitation to experience word, sound and movement as artistic presence material

... as a path and time in which the supposed, often decoupled poles of practice and reflection feed back into each other in a constant reciprocal relationship: in the simultaneous making and speaking about it.

... as an investigation of the in-between: between the making of practice and its explicit verbalisation.

... as a moment of performative and discursive sense-making: one of the partners practices and speaks about the making, the other perceives and feeds back through his/her sound, movement and word material. 


You can find the whole workshop description and a detailed warm-up choreography here


  1. Workshop „The art is already within us. Please stay - we’ll change.“ with Corinna Vogel and Laurenz Gemmer
    The idea of the workshop was to create in-the-moment pieces in guided improvisation, which means that the participants were working within a loose structure, but in a liberating and creative atmosphere. The aim was to offer different insights into the amalgamation of dance and music, to create artistic awareness and to see, feel and express daily routines from a different point of view. Participants were invited to present a fragment of music and a brief part of movement - both from their daily practice in order to reshape and transform it in an unexpected / extraordinary way. This could have been three random bars of a music piece or a movement such as making tea. 


            You can find a detailed description of the workshop here