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; since the season 2004/05 the company also is curating the dance program and is responsible for organization and financing of the theatre.
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 programs
- a young dance ensemble sponsored and has gained recognition with the public and political
- professional associations and innovative partnerships with local schools for the delivery of cultural education.
The engine behind the 19 years of artistic development at CocoonDance is improvisation, a strong dramaturgic approach and high emphasis on incessant teamwork. For years, CocoonDance has been “consistently experimenting with new narrative techniques, artistic methods for contemporary dance“ (Westdeutsche Zeitung). They have toured five continents by now and received numerous prizes. In 2018 and in 2020 CocoonDance was invited to the platform Germany, the most important biennale of contemporary dance and choreography in Germany.
Their practice focuses on perception as a starting point for change in modern dance. It involves audience not merely in representation of reality, but also of its generation. The ensemble revisits performative space that allows for distance and thinking, and reaches beyond the narrative space.
… 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. … Today, says Rafaële Giovanola, we are interested in finding a new body that is as far as possible from the human body as we actually know it. The choreographer as a body creator - a little bit like the ancient human dream of Prometheus, from Golem, Blade Runner to the robots of Silicon Valley, where, with animistic enthusiasm, the machine is idealized as the better human. Cocoon Dance already declines its range of motion. (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. (Trailer, 27.07.2017)