As can be seen in the outcomes of this artistic research project – partly in the work-specific reflection texts and particularly in the performances documented on the ‘Artistic Results’-page – the new works created as part of Just Do It! include a diverse and challenging use of bodily performance.


In the Intro’s list of general research questions, the last concerned the new skills, knowledge and practice methods acquired through the project’s processes.

Certainly, the automaton execution in Piece About Everything, the exploration of unknown voice territory in Drift’s drag recordings, the meticulous multitasking and expressive non-dramatic speech in My favourite piece is the Goldberg Variations, the detailed relationships between body and accordion, stage and audience in Relationer, the accordion-gesture polyphony contoured in Study #17 – Total Knowledge and the full New Discipline-extravaganza in PERSONHOOD have all contained numerous problems for me to solve, and consequently provided me with new skill and knowledge. But in the feedback loop of the project’s research methodology – researching my practice through my practice – and because this practice is a continuum, it can be difficult to separate the new from the old, that is, to know what I knew versus what I now know, what new knowledge has been derived from Just Do It! and what has come from other musical activity during the research period.


Starting with an outside view, I have become more aware of the implications of saying ‘everything exists’, like actor Jonas Kriegbaum in the Piece About Everything-conversation. Video-recordings of numerous rehearsals and performances have been helpful as a tool to evaluate my bodily movements and to calibrate the link between what I think I did and what I actually did – like the way sound recordings are helpful in instrumental music – but considering the spectator’s perspective was also crucial when learning Relationer, because the piece eliminates gaps between composed sections and transforms the entire time on stage to an unbroken performance. Although it is not always necessary or possible to do anything differently, I now have an increased awareness of the persona that meets the audience, and the frame in which it happens. [1]  


Video was not only helpful when I was in front of the camera – it was also a great help when watching others, for example when learning choreography for the many Britney Spears quotations in PERSONHOOD. Decoding the different elements that form a move – which body part does what, when and how ­– and trying to copy them sharpened my attention to detail. And like when I had to ‘nail the poses’ of still photos, as described in the process of SELF-CARE, the general expression of the dancers was essential – I tried to imitate and embody this as much as anything else.   

Compared to video, however, it was much easier to learn choreography when instructed in real life by Edward Pearce from the Danish Dance Theatre. Watching and rehearsing along with video recordings of the lessons made it possible to get more details out of Edward’s moves afterwards.


Although the numerous hours I spent learning dance choreographies offered physical exercise and stretching to some degree, it was not until I took the SingingBody course in relation to My favourite piece, that my body’s general condition became an issue. However, experiencing how flexibility and mobility influenced my performance has made consider including exercises to train these aspects of the body in my instrumental practice in the future. The three specific exercises described in the ‘Delightful Diaphragm’-section – biting the tongue, biting a piece of wood and lying on tennis balls – will definitely stay in my toolbox as it was a revelation to experience their effect. 


In general, two of the most important non-instrumental skills I have learned – or at least learned the importance of – are: 1) to speak and sing with a free, supported voice, and 2) to have a high degree of body awareness in every part of the performing body. Musicians usually already have remarkable awareness in the body parts they use to play their instruments, and expanding it to other parts can be achieved through many different methods and practices. I have benefitted from Grotowski’s Plastiques, Alexander Technique, online yoga classes, Laban Efforts [2] body scanning and YouTube choreography tutorials – and especially from individual coaching sessions with professional dancers. Similarly, a better use of the voice is available through a variety of exercises and strategies in books [3] or online, but my ‘diaphragm-delusions’ revealed that, at least for me to understand the subtleties of this body part, it was necessary to take individual, physical lessons instead of distance learning through Zoom. 


The free, supported voice and extended body awareness were both crucial abilities to understand and realize many specific tasks in the Just Do It!-works – for example the complex storyteller-voice in My favourite piece, the slow-motion opening of Relationer or the attempted embodiment of Maya Plisetskaya, Britney Spears and Elon Musk in PERSONHOOD – but in a wider perspective they broaden the potential range and modulation of expression. 


Using imaginary circumstances – intention or metaphors – to inflect expression became a recurrent method through the project. Although the method was familiar from my accordion practice, Rick Kemp [4] offered a row of new insights and specific exercises to explore the connection between imagination, emotion and physical actions. But even though the interlock between these three areas is neurologically hardwired, the body must be sufficiently pliable to react to the intentions and become the imagined expressivity. By this I mean that the increased voice and body awareness mentioned is not just a question of requiring specific new vocabulary – for example that I needed an extraordinary connection to my hips to perform the choreography to Spears’ ‘Work Bitch’ [5] – but also of developing a general sensibility that allows for a distinct and detailed pronunciation of the vocabulary.  


Expression and interpretation are inseparable when performing composed material, and since a lot of the material in the Just Do It! pieces was drawn from my personal life, the process of learning and performing them has put a magnifying glass on the general question of personal proximity or distance to the material and in the performance: from my hopeless aspiration for more involvement in Piece About Everything, to the difficulty of keeping a necessary distance to the text and the storyteller-character in My favourite piece. This topic is of course just as relevant in purely instrumental music, but the direct use of the body and its inherent connection to subjective identity makes it more acute.


Working consciously with voice and body invariably involves the surroundings – we stand on the ground, we sound in a space – and another often occurring theme throughout the research project has been the notion of presence: from the simple recognition of how and where I was placed in the space to consciously sending out Rodenburg’s second circle energy [6] and striving for the radical presence as described by Fischer-Lichte. [7] 


Presence is fundamental to all stage performance – musical as well as bodily – and as I have experienced it through the many activities in Just Do It!, the ‘embodied mind’ is perhaps the most important connection between the instrumental and non-instrumental realms – a joining force across disciplines that collapse the first two of my initial research questions: how can musicians fulfil the same demands of finesse and expression in bodily performance as with their instruments? And how can methods from the fields of acting and dancing be fruitful in obtaining this?  

It is through radical presence that any performer achieves the highest finesse and most captivating expression, regardless of the point of departure and level of technical proficiency. Since the original goal remains – that musicians should not need to become trained actors and dancers and singers in order to perform New Discipline works – for example it was obvious that my work in the SingingBody course only gently scratched the surface of the skills of a professional singer – I would give the following answer to Jessica Aszodi’s question quoted in the Intro: what it means to be good at all the things, ’beyond what we were trained to do’ is that the performer is radically present in all the things they do and ‘exemplifies that body and mind cannot be separated from each other’ so that ‘the spectator experiences the performer and himself as embodied mind in a constant process of becoming’ (Fischer-Lichte, p. 99). 


In a constant process of becoming, nothing is fixed. It is an ongoing transformation and there is always a degree of uncertainty: regardless of how well prepared and rehearsed – and as a classically trained musician I do have a predilection for preparation and rehearsal – a performance will never become radically present without a touch of uncontrollability. ‘Owning it’ on stage paradoxically means ‘letting go’. 


In his book The uncontrollability of the World (2020) German sociologist Hartmut Rosa explains that only when encountering the uncontrollable, can we be truly moved and touched: ‘Life is achieved in an interaction between that which is controllable, and that which is uncontrollable for us, but that still “concerns us”’ (p. 7). Rosa continues to unfold how this position between controllability and uncontrollability – the ‘half-controllability’ (p. 39) – is essential for resonance with the world, and that this resonance – and its inherent feeling of meaningful interconnectedness with the world – is a necessary counterbalance to the alienation that modern society engenders in its citizens.


Taking the physical phenomenon of resonance as starting point for his theory, Rosa  states – in his book Resonance: A Sociology of Our Relationship to the World (2019) ­– that ‘resonance is produced only when the vibration of one body stimulates the other to produce its own frequency’ (p. 165). This encapsulates what happens when the audience is moved by a performance on stage, and read through a Fischer-Lichterian lens it seems that Rosa’s resonance is a state of radical presence.


Entering new disciplines and engaging with types of performance we were not trained for, can quickly tip the balance towards full ‘uncontrollability’ – when we do not know what to do but need to ‘just do it’ anyway. Although this reading of my PhD title describes a step sometimes necessary to take in a creative process – as I experienced with my own creation of Study #17 and the drag recordings in Drift ­– or when learning through imitation, it is rarely suitable on stage.


The reading intended for performance is this: after engaging as rigorously as possible with the material and its expressive potentiality – as the responsible performer should do [8] – finding the appropriate personal connection with it – because it must ‘concern us’ – cultivating the highest available degree of awareness in the body and in the precision of the expression and delivery, questioning directions and levels of energy sent out in the space – because it must also concern the audience ­– then all that is left to do is stop contemplating, let go and just do it to own it. 


Although the ‘uncovering, catalyzing, cultivating, embodying and experiencing expressions’ mentioned in the Intro can be extra invigorating and developing for the performing individual when done through direct bodily performance instead of a musical instrument – and my experience is that it can – the experience of radical presence and resonance offered to the audience is the essence of any live performance – and, following Rosa, its raison d’être in an alienating modern society.

Through the pieces created in this research project and my thorough process of learning and performing them, my experience is that the non-instrumental bodily performance can be a more direct way to radical presence although not necessarily quicker or easier. 


As mentioned, however, my practice is a continuum, and I now wonder how the knowledge gained through this yearlong process can be fed back into my instrumental accordion practice and my teaching in the future. In a reversed process this would even give more detailed answers to the research question which asks how instrumental musical praxis can be augmented into the realm of non-instrumental performance. What if proper diaphragmatic support was embedded in the bellows, the jaw was always free and the inner singing voice was never pushed? What if Grotowski’s Plastiques were standard warm-up exercises or Laban Efforts were used to specify characteristics in a Bach fugue? Which hip- and spine-stretching exercises ought to accompany every accordionist? What if fingerings and hand movements were always chosen to prompt emotional responses through the neurological pathways? How can personal proximity to the material be more consciously negotiated? Would such strategies and deliberations be a way to increase the chances of radical presence and resonance in instrumental performance? I guess there is only one way to find out: just do it.






Piece About Everything

13 November 2019, 'Work-in-Progress Concert', NMH (NO)

11 September 2020, SPOR festival, Aarhus (DK), WP

3 December 2022, Final Presentation, NMH


My Favorite Piece is the Goldberg Variations

20 March 2021, Borealis festival, online, WP of video version

29 May 2021, KLANG festival, Copenhagen (DK), WP

8 September 2021, SPOR festival, Aarhus (DK) 

1 October 2021, Musica Strasbourg (F)

24 October 2021, Transit festival, Leuven (B)

26 October 2021, Festival d’Automne, Paris (F)

22 November 2021, Levande Musik, Gothenburg (SE)

30 April 2022, Only Connect, Oslo (NO)

12 May 2022, The Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen (DK)

10 July 2022, Time of Music festival, Viitasaari (FI)

20 November, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK)

2 December 2022, Final Presentation, NMH



20 March 2021, Borealis Festival, online, WP of video version

29 May 2021, KLANG Festival, Copenhagen, WP

22 November 2021, Levande Musik, Gothenburg (SE)

30 April 2022, Only Connect, Oslo 

9 July 2022, Time of Music festival, Viitasaari (FI)

3 December 2022, Final Presentation, NMH



8 September 2021, SPOR festival, Aarhus (DK), WP

12 May 2022, The Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen (DK)

2 December 2022, Final Presentation, NMH



16 September 2021, Ultima festival, Oslo, WP

28 April 2022, Dublin New Music, Dublin (IE)


Study #17 - Total Knowledge

15 September 2022, Festival für Immaterielle Kunst, Hamburg (DE), WP

2 December 2022, Final Presentation, NMH





8-10 October 2018 – NordART Seminar, NMH

14-16 November 2018 – Norwegian Artistic Research School Seminar 1

6-8 February 2019 – Norwegian Artistic Research School Seminar 2

5-6 Marts 2019 – Artistic Research Forum 1

4-5 April – NordART Seminar, NMH

6-7 May 2019 – Norwegian Artistic Research School Seminar 3

12-18 August 2019 – SAAR Summer Academy of Artistic Research

4-6 September 2019 – Norwegian Artistic Research School Seminar 4

23-24 September 2019 – Artistic Research Forum 2

8-10 Januar 2020 – Norwegian Artistic Research School Seminar 5

13-14 October 2020 – Artistic Research Forum 3

28 November-4 December 2020 – Participant in Zurich University of the Arts’ Research Academy 'The Situational Self'

15-17 Marts 2021 – Artistic Research Forum 4

22-26 March 2021 – NMH/NordART RAPP Lab: ‘Developing Critical Reflection in Artistic Research’

18-20 October 2021 – Artistic Research Forum 5

7-9 October 2021 – Keynote speaker at the symposium 'Dialogues: Analysis and Performance', University of Toronto

30 June - 3 July 2022 – Performance lecture at the 'Performance Studies Network Conference', University of Surrey, Guildford






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