The performance art collective CocoonDance was founded by choreographer Rafaële Giovanola and dramaturge Rainald Endraß in 2000. Swiss-born Giovanola was a soloist in Turin before being brought to the Frankfurt Ballett by William Forsythe for the duration of eight years. After this, she worked with Pavel Mikuláštik’s Choreographisches Theater, with Bonn as the last station. Since 2000, CocoonDance has been producing and performing in the independent Theater im Ballsaal in Bonn (D); since the season 2004/05 the company also is curating the dance program and is responsible for organization and financing of the theatre.
An important pillar of the company is located in the Swiss Canton of Valais, where CocoonDance has been co-produced since 2005 and already staged eight premieres to date. In 2020, CocoonDance was appointed Associate Artist of the Théâtre du Crochetan in Monthey. Since its founding, the company has produced about forty full-length productions that have toured through five continents and been invited to showcase festivals in Germany and Switzerland like the TANZPLATTFORM DEUTSCHLAND in 2018 and 2020.
CocoonDance has established itself as a dance-arts institution with an extensive network not only within the artistic world, but also in the field of cultural education. It is characterized by the efficient and successful interplay of variable components which are: • a professional company that operates with visiting freelance artists, national and international networks, co-producers, co-operations across the world • a performance space which has established itself as a center for curated contemporary dance productions with two renowned international festivals and residence program • two young dance ensembles (D/ CH) sponsored and has gained recognition with the public and professional associations • innovative partnerships with local schools for the delivery of cultural education.
The engine behind these 20 years of artistic development is the improvisation, a strong dramaturgy and a pronounced focus on continuous teamwork. With its productions CocoonDance not only breaks down spatial barriers of the conventional stage experience, but also plays in a sophisticated way with our perception of bodies. The audience does not only participate in a (new) representation of reality, but in its generation. The work of CocoonDance can best be explained as a reflection about the dance and the body itself, as a shift of the dance space away from the narrative space into a space of distance and thinking.
The “Unthought Body”
The physical encounter with unfamiliar forms of movement and the exchange with 'other', non-academically trained dance bodies led to an expanded understanding of the body and movement by Rafaële Giovanola and her ensemble. Since the project MOMENTUM in 2016 CocoonDance elaborates a working method which becomes crucial. In intensive research periods with experts in the respective fields, the company explores disciplines and movement techniques that are often alien to dance. The objective thereby should not be to just imitate or mimic someone, but rather to embody and identify with the different movement material, its origins and intentions. This is followed by process-oriented phases of reflection, in which the learned techniques are applied in an open and unbiased way in improvisations and the qualities of the material are explored together. These are “experiments to investigate the perception of the body, of the other and one-self” which do not follow any particular dramaturgy, except the one of the body. Bodies that are transformed into something new and alien, and movements that not only move the bodies of the dancers, but also of the audience.
Glossary work / MoveApp
The study of language, as an instrument for capturing, clarifying and archiving movement, has become a core element of CocoonDance's movement research. Since 2017, the company has developed a steadily growing
glossary with the aim of creating an open archive that not only stores the collectively gained knowledge, but is constantly dialogically re-examined, supplemented and shared. As a result of the glossary work a special working method has evolved that at the same time proves to be a more efficient way of communicating -- not only in the context of working with professional dancers, but also non-academic dancers. MORE …
How can a choreographic language be created, explained and shared? CocoonDance examined this question by developing a movement vocabulary based on the movement material of its pieces. The MoveApp, an interactive digital continuation of the glossary work, launched thanks to the “Close Distance”-program by Pro Helvetia, aims to assist users to explore and expand the possibility space of their bodies through terms and their explanations. How the individual bodies / users themselves interpret the linguistic descriptions is intentionally kept open. The MoveApp is an invitation for the user to explore and expand the potential scope of his/her body through new terms and explanations. The creative process of how these individual bodies interpret the linguistic descriptions for themselves is deliberately kept open. First and foremost, new terms and their influence on movement and body sensation should flow into the app. It is expressly desired that this app grows beyond the movement knowledge and vocabulary of CocoonDance and that other performers, dancers and choreographers leave their mark on the app. In the long run, the goal is to develop a tool that will serve a large number of “movement practitioners” to create, explore and facilitate an open exchange about movements and body images with others, without presumption of general validity. Link to download the app: for Android devices/ IOS Apple devices
Press comments about CocoonDance
CocoonDance has made a name for itself in recent years with extraordinary, finely shaped pieces that revolve around questions of the digital age. (Eva-Maria Magel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12/23/2021)
Bonn’s internationally renowned Cocoondance company was founded 20 years ago by the choreographer Rafaële Giovanola and the dramaturge Rainald Endraß. Since then, they have celebrated many successes. From their base camp at the Theater im Ballsaal in Bonn-Endenich, they developed again and again new intriguing forms of dance and movement that delighted both the experts and the audience.
(Bernhard Hartmann, General-Anzeiger Bonn, December 4th, 2020)
… according to Bonn’s dance company CocoonDance one can discover completely different creatures in a human that are much more significant for his existence today: animal and insect-like, amorphous-fantastic, technoid beings. And those are currently breaking fresh ground with every new piece that the ensemble choreographs. To accomplish this, they first had to reinvent themselves. They had to throw over complex dramatic concepts, their ambition to invent a postmodern narrative for dance. They had to suppress their urge for an abundance of movement and virtuoso choreographic processes. Then it happens: CocoonDance is landing one success after the other. The ensemble receives top funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and is present this year for the second time as a guest at the dance platform, the most important festival of free dance.
(Nicole Strecker, kultur.west, 02/2020)
The dancers of the CocoonDance company, around choreographer Rafaële Giovanola and dramaturge Rainald Endrass, have gained some experiences … profound spaces of perception. Again and again, and not least with Momentum via Ghost Trio A and Ghost Trio B to Vis Motrix, the duo Giovanola & Endrass immersed itself in these intermediate worlds to decode the moments when the dancing body creates new connections between space and time and new forms of choreographic presentation are developing. That staging curiosity and choreographic urge to explore have earned them prizes and awards and the enthusiastic applause of an audience that is fascinated by the difficult choreographic and dancing implementation of philosophical questions and highly appreciative.
(Klaus Keil, www.tanzweb.org, 13,06.2019)
Does Bonn have a free dance scene? Düsseldorf's answer to this question is clear yes with the Tanzhaus NRW. In Cologne, the tanzfaktur offers professional dancers residences, professional training and regularly shows good concepts of contemporary dance. But the Bonn-based CocoonDance company, founded in 2000 by choreographer Rafaele Giovanola and dramaturge Rainald Endraß, is showing at the ballroom theater over and over a very high artistic quality in their projects. Most recently, their production Vis Motrix was selected for the dance platform 2020 in Munich - the most important biennial for contemporary dance and choreography in Germany. The company is experimenting with different narrative and perception perspectives with the aim of breaking up the local understanding of art. Definitive and conclusive answers to a piece are no longer given but are left to the viewer’s own reflection and subjectivity. To see the viewer as the perceiving element is a central point here. Staging him/her as a performer who reflects and participates and flows together with the movements of the dancers. … This is also part of the new understanding of art that the CocoonDance company wants to convey. The individual functions of dramaturges, choreographers and dancers are increasingly abandoned. It's about the entirety that also lets the audience participate and thus leads to a much more emotional reception of the productions. The artistic freedom and improvisation work help to ensure that pieces like Vis Motrix or Ghost Trio B can be created and are internationally successful.
(Barbara Franke, Kölnische Rundschau, 21.01.2020)
… CocoonDance receives more recognition for its work than ever: invitation to the 2018 Tanzplattform Deutschland (dance platform Germany), top-level funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Doppelpass (double pass) Plus funding of the Federal Cultural Foundation. It seems like the company is now fully fledged and has at the time arrived inside the dance.
(Melanie Suchy, Die Deutsche Bühne 06/2018).
We are all spectators. A theme that Rafaële Giovanola and Rainald Endraß have been working on for years in their productions for CocoonDance and brought electrifying productions to the audience in North Rhine-Westphalia. (Thomas Linden, Trailer, 27.07.2017)
Hardly any company in Germany is working on their productions with a comparable aesthetic density."
(Thomas Linden, Kölner Rundschau, 27.06. 2017)
The Bonn company effortlessly succeeds in this act of genius that is one-of-a-kind in the national scene.
(Thomas Linden, TANZwebkoeln, 30.04.2015)