Date of Publishing:
February 23, 2018

2017 © Laura Brechmann
© Tania Reinicke

Dizziness as a Choreographic Element

Laura Brechmann


Ein erster Schwindel/A first Dizziness is an artistic research project (2017–ongoing) that interweaves theory and performative practice. The project takes its cue from methodological approaches of artistic research. In my graduation work, I tried to visualize the creative process of a practical thesis, and ask how an invisible, chaotic and disturbing phenomenon like dizziness may become visible for an audience. The idea of an ‘Open-Research-Space’ seemed to be the ideal form for this purpose. For one week I worked (practically and theoretically, with and without an audience and in cooperation with other artists) in a gallery in Bochum (GER) and then for one week on a rehearsal stage in Prague (CZ). Although private intimacy is important to develop artistic projects I prefered to open up my research process and invite everyone interested to discuss and reflect. Through art and flexible thinking, I aim to come as close as possible to the strangely fluid feeling of dizziness.During the research process one main question has emerged: Can Taumel/dizziness  be a choreographic element in dance and if yes, how can a dancer keep the fragile balance between control and letting-go. I have worked with many different techniques to evoke dizziness-like states, experimenting with spinning, arm and foot movement and speed. The process is documented through video and photography. The flexible use and arrangement of this material is an important part of this project. It is not just a documentation but rather artistic material in its own right. The integration of (documentation) material, performative dance practice and (scientific and philosophical) texts is one of my approaches according to artistic research.

Taumel (Analysis)

You stumble. The moment you are stumbling your body is shaking and movement directions are just vaguely perceptible. Dizziness is overwhelming you in the short floating-like moment between losing and finding balance. You are stumbling but perhaps you will not fall because your body knows how to react. It is a liminal game of losing-yourself and regaining-yourself. Sometimes your body is reacting more intensly than other times but you always move in an unpredictable way. Your body is taking over the control to prevent the fall. For example, you spread your arms to balance yourself and to break your fall or your feet react reflexively.

In German you sum up these unpredictable movements of the body in one word: Taumel. It is the swaying body which reveals specific movement qualities in dance. While the spin, a manifold dance technique, may develop a mediative grace, stumbling always reveals insecurietes, imperfections and some kind of clumsiness. The movements are not aesthetic in the sence of ‘beautiful to look at’. Dealing with the fall out of some order of strict dance systems and with the difficulties of Taumel as a choreographic element is a highly exciting challenge for both, dancer and choreographer. But at the same time,  a special participation of the audience is needed. By observing someone who stumbles and risks to fall, a viewer is not only emotionally but also physically involved. The dancer is asking for one’s attention because a body which stumbles may evoke reflexive reactions from the audience, like efforts of catching or supporting. An interaction between the stumbling dancer and the reacting audience can also be part of a potential choreography.

Movement Archivement: Techniques on 'How to evoke dizziness' with Omar Guadarrama

Ein erster Schwindel contains a movement archive for dance techniques to evoke this un/balanced state of the body. The interdiciplinary research started in February 2018 in cooperation with the Mexican performer Omar Guadarrama. The aim of the movement archive is to to develop a dance performance dedicated to the stumbling body. In intervals of several weeks we started our research on experimenting with different kinds of Dizziness-Techniques and how they may be combined to work on a choreography of Taumel. The isolated techniques are documented. It should be possible to repeat and (dramaturgical) arrange them. The question of how to capture something fluid and ephemeral in photographies and videos is also part of this research project. For this cause we plan to work interdisciplinary with photographers and video artists. The archive is a work in progress.