A dance/science project for young scientist, dancers and people with Parkinson's disease

Foto: Company Yasmeen Godder

The term disorder incorporates pathological, societal, philosophical, and artistic interpretive patterns. In modern medicine, correcting a disorder takes the place of an encompassing illness and the attempt to heal it, which changes our understanding of the concept of a person. For neurological disorders, such as Morbus Parkinson, the medical perspective is narrowed down already during one’s studies to regard the brain as a technically and chemically correctable organ. Contemporary dance has taken disorders of this kind and mobilized its knowledge and experience, which we wanted to connect to clinical, philosophical, and societal concepts of disorder.

Dancers and choreographers have become experts for what is being discussed internationally as embodied cognition in philosophy and neurology: theories on how our “self” is formed, investigating neuronal structures against the background of embodiment, motion sequences, and bodily self-perception. We therefore wanted to explore the realm of experience between movement and movement disorders in an interdisciplinary expedition. We wanted Parkinson patients and artists to become pioneers of an understanding of the body that avoids the “cerebralization” of clinical practice, medial and societal body fetishisms (often linked to a performance-oriented society), as well as stagings of digital disembodiment.

The Theatre Freiburg together with Freiburg’s cluster of excellence “BrainLinks-BrainTools”, choreographer Yasmeen Godder’s Company in Tel Aviv, as well as four neuroscience institutes in Israel designed an interdisciplinary long-term project that focused on the phenomenon of “disorder.” The project was grounded in long-term cooperation of its partners and brought together about 50 people living with Parkinson, 16 junior researchers, as well as internationally renown scientists from neuroscience, medicine, micro-system engineering and ethics, as well as dancers, choreographers and dramaturges in Germany and Israel for several months. The project started in September 2014 with an artistic-scientific conceptual meeting in Israel, continued in February 2015 with a “winter-school” in Freiburg, and culminated in two international theme congresses with performances in December 2015 in Freiburg and Tel Aviv. During this time, dancers continuously worked with groups of Parkinson patients in both countries. A new approach was to integrate junior researchers with pertinent specialty areas in the artistic work, which lead to a knowledge exchange between artistic, scientific, and life-knowledge expertise at an early stage.

The final theme congresses enacted new formats for a dialogue of all these different approaches for a broader public as well as presented a choreography by Yasmeen Godder that takes inspiration from exploring the theme of disorder through dance. A film documentation accompanied the project throughout 2015, which was also the anniversary year of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel.

For more information visit the project's blog:

Flyer of the final conference in 2015


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