Touch. Haptic and Affective Relations in Contemporary Dance (PhD, 2010-2014)

In my PhD research I developed new perspectives on a key phenomenon in the performance of dance: touch. In contemporary dance, touch takes place in manifold ways: stroking, caressing, hitting, lifting, holding, etc. All these different modes of touch demonstrate that touch cannot be reduced to the mere contact between two bodies. It creates an interplay of movements and multiple relations of proximity. Through this process-oriented notion of touch I reevaluate key concepts such as the body, rhythm, emotional expression, subjectivity and audience perception. I therefore propose that movement, experience and affect as central concepts for an analysis of touch. By closely analyzing eight performances by European and American choreographers such as Meg Stuart/Philipp Gehmacher, Jared Gradinger/Angela Schubot or Xavier Le Roy I investigate their usage of touch.

With my research I bring affect theory to the field of dance and performance studies. In recent years there has been a growing interest in the concepts of affect, relation and motion in the humanities. At the same time a discourse on touch became prominent in the field of philosophy, based mainly on the deconstructive writings of Jacques Derrida (On Touching, Jean Luc-Nancy, 2005) and Jean-Luc Nancy (Noli me tangere, 2008) as well as Erin Manning (Politics of Touch, 2007). The aim of my research is to bring together close descriptions and analyses of these dance performances with theoretical investigations into the question of touch across the fields of performance and dance studies, philosophy and cultural theory. The guiding question is therefore twofold: What do these concepts provide for the analysis and conceptualization of contemporary dance performances? How does the focus on dance and movement advance the discourse on touch, especially the notion of the touching body?


Moving Relation. Touch in Contemporary Dance. Translated by Rett Rossi. London and New York: Routledge 2020., Introduction

Berührungen. Bewegung, Relation und Affekt im zeitgenössichen Tanz. Bielefeld: Transcript 2016. 
www.transcript-verlag.deIntroduction (German)

„Gewaltsame Improvisationen. Die prekäre Politik der Berührung“ [Violent Improvisation. The Precarious Politics of Touch] in: Tangieren. Praktiken und Arrangements des Berührens in den performativen Künsten ed. by Sandra Fluhrer und Alexander Waszynski, Baden-Baden: Rombach, pp. 265–281.

„Körperbeben. Die Rhythmen der Berührung in what they are instead of“, in: Interval(le)s, No. 7, Réinventer le rythme / Den Rhythmus neu denken, ed. by Vera Viehöver and Bruno Dupont, 2015, p. 76–95. 

„The Fault Lines: The Future (Im-)Perfect of Melancholia and Movement“, in: Melancholy and Politics, ed. by: Vassilis Noulas, Adam Czirak, Natascha Siouzouli, Magazine for Live Arts Research, Athen, November 2013, pages 16–21.  (English translation by Christoph Nöthlings) 

„The Fault Lines (Τα Ρήγματα): Μελαγχολία και κίνηση σε ατελή χρόνο τετελεσμένου μέλλοντος“, in: Μελαγχολία και Πολιτική, ed. by: Vassilis Noulas, Adam Czirak, Natascha Siouzouli, Περιοδική έκδοση για τις παραστατικές τέχνες, Athen, November 2013, pages 16-21. (Greek translation by: Manolis Tsipos and Natascha Siouzouli) 

„Movements of Touch in MAYBE FOREVER“, in: Touching and Being Touched. Kinesthesia and Empathy in Dance and Movement ed. by: Gabriele Brandstetter, Gerko Egert and Sabine Zubarik. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter 2013, pages 63–82.