idocde » Editorial

After a few months of ephemerality…

… this editorial asks for your peeking.


“ Dear Kerstin,

Something is happening! Words are getting more difficult to utilize, following our previous symposium – Teach me (not)! and the following “cherry on the ice cream” Training Total @ K3.

I am also reading new and refreshing idocs on our site. I am reflecting on my teaching almost everyday. I keep asking myself what is my own ongoing training as a professional performer. I am loaded with ideas, practices, questions and definitions.

And when I realize this word; DEFINITIONS – now that I am writing to you – the answer to the question I was about to ask you gradually appears! Yet, definitions and the various approaches of Training Total participants to terms and documentation that was triggering me in many levels get in my way now. I am stuck! With the reality that contemporary dance scene is by definition constantly changing...

Then how do we describe what we do – as teachers? And as IDOCDE hoping/aiming to assist, help, support teachers today?! How do we describe what teachers do (that is “a bit” clearer for me maybe, after the Teach me (not)! and yet clarity is actually unclarity in this one).

How do we describe the content of teaching then? What is technique? This is actually where I wish to start from I think - having our agenda for preparing the program of 3rd Symposium – Teaching Form[less]?.

Thinking and reflecting on these I wish to write a few remarks for the IDOCDE community but I need you to be my sound board, reflecting mirror, my teacher, my student, my colleague...  I know you can do that, not only because I was very much triggered by the discussion you went thru with Ingo in the panel at Training Total, but also due to the fact of moving with you in many layers of IDOCDE.

Let’s get lost together! Shall we? 



Dear Defne,

Ephemerality. Remember the word that Keith used in the opening lecture at "Teach me (not)!"? Ephemerality, as the counterpart to definition, or maybe they are opposing thumbs... Ephemerality as a key ingredient in working with the body, the definition of this truth being one that is valid only here and now.  

And yet - one of Ingo's thoughts at the K3 - Zentrum für Choreography Panel "Talking Heads" during Training Total about technique was that it is repeatable - you do the same thing in order to get the same result (I am paraphrasing). So it also seems to me that we need to strive for clarity - maybe even repeatability. And at the same moment knowing that orbiting around definitions, ultimate truths or ultimate phrases (as we did in the teaching residencies in Zürich and Grenoble) does not mean ever getting to the point, simply because there is no final point to get to.

The one thing that astonished me at our “definitions session " in Hamburg is that on the definition of a professional dancer everyone seemed to agree on, whereas on other terms of which I expected to have a common understanding -such as "class" or "training"- viewpoints in our group varied considerably. Remember, in the discussion around professional training, we also discussed its goals and purpose, and it became clear that as a dancer it is easy to get lost in assumed bodily needs that we yearn to be addressed in class.

Is it really necessary to have a cardio vascular training in a dance class? Wouldn't it be less effort and cheaper just to go for a run in the city park? Is it just that I want to fulfill my needs as "kinaesthetic junkie", to feel exhilarated, worn out, and tired in my muscles - or does something else happen in this tiring which only happen this way in a dance training? It became clear to me that my main goal as dance teacher needs to be ‘to foster what is called in german "selbstverantwortlichkeit", which I would translate as something in between "ownership" and "self-responsibility" ’. One needs to question the decision making process in why to attend or not to attend a specific class, or a professional training in general. This would help greatly the focus and creative freedom of any training.

More to follow soon... I am aware that in my mind I am adjusting the "cellular magnets" already towards the form and the formless. Have I thrown you some bones your masseter wants to chew on?



Yes Dear,

Some bones! For sure I have more than 206 bones in my body now! I am not sure if they are chewable though… But thanks, I am getting way more activity in my magnetic field.

So now I ask myself; How can we be contemporary if we do not question and contribute to the needs of the contemporary dance scene? – As teachers, don’t we have the responsibility of reading and matching the needs of the art scene? Are not we the ones to create settings and frames as well?” I hear your ideas on self-responsibility, which takes me back to 2nd Symposium to Alva’s closing speech refering to Plato’s paradox of Mino regarding learning – “You can never search for knowledge unless you already know what you are looking for. You won’t tell whether you’ve found it. But if you know what you are looking for then you already have it! You can’t gain your knowledge.” Then Alva was saying that St. Augustin formulated the same paradox for teaching. i.e “It is impossible to teach because in order for you, with using words, to teach a student, the student needs to understand you . But if they’ve already understood you, they already understood.” Asking this big big question for dance teaching but deciding to not go into it here, since it is already in the idocs of our symposium reflections.

Noting that words are a big part but not the only tools for our teaching, I wish to allow this flashback jump me to our relation to words in a broader sense within the framework of IDOCDE goals and deeds.

I do recall from many IDOCDE, LEAP project & outreach meetings, many discussions we have carried that it was difficult for some people to even think of documenting their work or others work. Due to the fact that when we start documenting things, we need definitions and this fact make them feel like putting a stamp on things. I do recall myself making a distinction between “academic way of writing” and informal sharings as documents where definitions can be perceived as alive, shifting and momentary snapshots. And of course there is the fact of “having declared something I run the risk of being a victim of it”. What if my perception of things, my ideas change? And here you go ephemerality. Bingo!

But then if “all that is solid melts into air” what is the value of “capturing” things. Am I again answering my question if I ask "What is the significance of putting a mark in history!?". As Angela Guerreiro & Karen Schaffman’s great Live Legacy Project resonates in my magnetic field!

Wanna dive in one more round with me on this?! Or shall we leave it here to “chew on different flavors together” when we meet in Symposium Preperation meeting in February (now that we have extended the Call for Proposals) and more so with all IDOCDE “chewers” this summer during Teaching Form[less]?


My dear,

No more words! I am off to teaching now, so I postpone the chewing for now and will see how our conversation will affect my magnetic teaching tonight. 


P.S. I believe that every teaching, no matter how small or big the class, matters. Then the teaching itself is the mark in history - the documenting is making it accessible and visible for others. Is it? ”


Defne Erdur (Istanbul) & Kerstin Kussmaul (Vienna) via email on January 13th 2015