It was one of Marianne Van Kerkhoven’s iconic phrases, defining the dramaturg as a turned over library of useful and not so useful reference ‘books’:

‘amassing knowledge in all fields: reading, listening to music, viewing exhibitions, watching performances, travelling, encountering people and ideas, living and experiencing and reflecting on all this. (…) Remembering at the right moment what you have in your stockroom’. (in: Looking without pencil in the hand, p. 146)

Below I want to share with you some of my favorite authors and books that I often return to in my work.

I will update this section regularly with a recent, favorite read, which is:

Keil, Marta and Lesnierowska, Joanna (eds.) (2021), Choreography: Strategies. Poznan: Arts Station Foundation.

The third volume of a series of books, including a diversity of more than 50 voices, including my own, discussing contemporary artistic practices and strategies and highlighting the power of expanded choreography as a politically engaged practice.

On (Dance) Dramaturgy.

The literature on (dance) dramaturgy is both expanding and diversifying, which is highlighted by the number of adjectives or qualifications that is added to it: the traditional dichotomy between open and conceptual dramaturgy has now expanded in a rhizomatic way to include virtual dramaturgy, the dramaturgy of the performer and the spectator, intercultural dramaturgy, pandemic dramaturgy, …

Below is just a short selection of my favorite books and collection of articles on the subject.

  • Behrndt, Synne K. and Turner, Cathy (2008), Dramaturgy and Performance, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Blok, Suzy (ed.) (2009), Perspectives on Potential Dramaturgies. Amsterdam: Dancemakers.
  • Brizzell, Cindy and Lepecki, André (eds.) (2003), On Dramaturgy, the labor of the Question. Women & Performance: a journal of femininst theory. Vol. 13:2, Issue 26. New York: NYU.
  • Cochrane, Bernadette & Trencsenyi, Katalin (eds.) (2014), New Dramaturgy: International Perspectives. London: Metheun.
  • Gritzner, Karoline, Primavesi, Patrick and Roms, Heike (eds.) (2009), On Dramaturgy. Performance Research. Vol 14. No. 3., London: Routledge.
  • Hansen, Pil and Callison, Darcey (2015), Dance Dramaturgy. Modes of Agency, Awareness and Engagement. (New World Choreographies). London: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Hansen, Pil, Callison Darcey and Barton, Bruce (eds.) (2013), Dance and Movement Dramaturgy, Canadian Theatre Review, 155. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Hoghe, Raimund (2016), Bandoneon. Working with Pina Bausch, translated by Penny Black, edited by Katalin Trencsényi. London: Oberon Books.
  • Konstanina Georgelou, Danae Theodoridou and Efrosini Protopapa (eds.) (2016), The Practice of Dramaturgy. Amsterdam: Valiz.
  • Trencsényi, Katalin (2015). Dramaturgy in the Making. A User’s Guide for Theatre Practitioners. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Trencsényi, Katalin (curator) (2020), Invisible Diaries. UK : Dramaturgy Network.
  • Van Kerkhoven, Marianne (1994) (ed.), Theaterschrift 5–6, On Dramaturgy. Brussels: Kaaitheater.

On Choreographic Practice.

I always prefer to read artists writing about their own practices instead of reading the analysis of their work by critics or academics. My own dialogical writing results from this. Below are just a couple of inspirational examples.

  • Burrows, Jonathan, A Choreographer’s Handbook. Oxon: Routledge, 2010.
Most sold book on the art and work of the contemporary choreographer. Insightful and funny. You can return to it over and over and always find something new.

  • Contredanse (ouvrage collective), de l’une à l’autre, Composer, apprendre et partager en mouvements. Bruxelles: Contredanse, 2012.
Series of essays on the creative process, composition methods and interdisciplinary practices by Simone Forti, Steve Paxton, Anna Halprin, Lisa Nelson, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, F. Alexander and many others.

  • De Keersmaeker, Anne Teresa and Cvejic, Bojana: A Choreographer’s Score: Fase, Rosas danst Rosas, Elena’s Aria, Bartok. Brussels: Rosas, 2012.
The first of a series of multi-media publications in which De Keersmaeker gives a very detailed insight into the creative process and the compositional principles of her early works. Perfect educational material.

  • Diehl, Ingo and Lampert, Friederike (eds.): Dance Techniques 2010, Tanzplan Germany. Henschel Verlag: Leipzig, 2011.
Results of an extensive European study among 7 major Dance Institutes on the actual state and development of the teaching of dance techniques in dance education today. With chapters on amongst others Limon technique, Cunningham technique, Release, …. With accompanying literature lists to continue the study of the individual subjects and DVDs.

  • Glon Marie et Launay, Isabelle (eds), Histoires de Gestes, Paris: Actes Sud, 2012.
Interesting collection of essays on the history and the importance of certain ‘gestures’ in contemporary dance: standing, falling, walking, running, jumping, sitting, spinning, … watching.

  • Lepecki, André (ed), Dance in the series Documents of Contemporary Art. London: Whitechapel, 2012.
Extensive collection of essays on contemporary dance, with contributions from Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Simone Forti, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, Pina Bausch, Jerome Bel, Jonathan Burrows, Marina Abramovic, Deborah Hay, Meg Stuart, William Forsythe.

  • Peeters, Jeroen (ed.), Are we here yet?. Dijon: Les Presses du réel, 2010.
Collection of essays on the work of Meg Stuart. Offering amongst others an overview of the choreographic tasks she has been using.

  • Spier, Steven (ed.): William Forsythe and the Practice of Choreography. It starts from any point. Oxon: Routledge, 2011.
Collection of essays by Forsythe himself and some of his closest collaborators on his choreographic practice.

  • Tufnell, Miranda and Crickmay, Chris, A Widening Field, journeys in body and imagination. Alton: Dance Books, 2004.
The follow up sequel of Body, Space, Image (1990). Two of the best books available on dance improvisation.

On Artistic Research.

The artistic research paradigm has to offer a lot to other fields of academic research as long as we keep defending its own uniqueness. Below a list of authors that do so and that inspired my own research practice.

  • Jacob, Mary Jane and Baas, Jacqueline (2009), Learning Mind, Experience into Art. Chicago: School of Art Institute.
  • Gehm, Sabine, Husemann, Pirko and von Wilcke, Katherina (eds.) (2007), Knowledge in Motion, Perspectives of Artistic and Scientific Research in Dance. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.
  • Haseman, Brad (2006), A Manifesto for Performative Research, in: Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, theme issue ‘Practice-led Research’ (no. 118). Brisbane: University of Queensland. pp. 98-106.
  • Hoogeboom, Marijke (2010), If artistic research is the answer – what is the question? Some notes on a new trend in art education, in: Pérez Royo, Victoria and Antonio Sánchez, José (eds.), Practice and Research, Cairon 13, Journal of Dance Studies. Universidad de Alcalá.
  • Leavy, Patricia (2009), Method Meets Art, Arts-Based Research Practice. New York: The Guilford Press.
  • Lesage, Dieter (2012), Art, Research, Entertainment, in: Gielen, Pascal & De Bruyne, Paul (eds.), Teaching Art in the Neoliberal Realm. Realism versus Cynicism. Amsterdam: Valiz. pp. 113-127.
  • Lesage, Dieter (2009), Who’s Afraid of Artistic Research? On Measuring Artistic Research Output, in: Art&Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods 2, no. 2 (2009) online journal:
  • Nelson, Robin (2013), Practice as Research in the Arts. Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistancies. London : Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Wesseling, Janneke (ed.) (2011), See it Again. Say it Again. The Artist as Researcher. Amsterdam: Valiz.

Livelong inspirations.

The authors in this section have been constant sources of inspiration on different levels, both in my professional life as a dramaturg, as a writer and in my daily life. If I mention only one or two titles for each, it is just for brevity because most of the time a large part of their body of work is in my library.

  • Abram, David (1996), The Spell of The Sensuous. New York: Random House.
  • Bachelard, Gaston (1994, 1957), The Poetics of Space, translated by Maria Jolas. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Baas, Jacquelynn and Jacob, Mary Jane (eds.) (2004), Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Berger, John (2011), Bento’s Sketchbook. London: Verso.
  • Cioux, Hélène (1991), Coming to Writing and other Essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Corradi Fiumara, Gemma (1990), The Other Side of Language. A Philosophy of Listening. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Dewey, John (1934/2005), Art as Experience. New York: Penguin Books, Perigee Paperback edition.
  • Eliade, Mircea (1958/1969), Yoga. Immortality and Freedom. Second edition. New York: Princeton University Press.
  • Ingold, Tim (2013), Making. Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Keleman, Stanley (1999), Myth & the Body. A colloquy with Joseph Campbell. Berkeley: Center Press.
  • Kester, Grant H. (2004), Conversation Pieces. Community+Communication in Modern Art. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  • Krause, Adam (2011), Art as Politics. The Future of Art and Community. Porsgrunn: New Compass Press.
  • Kunst, Bojana (2015), Artist at Work. Proximity of Art and Capitalism. Wincester: Zero Books.
  • Lehmann, Hans-Thies (1999), Postdramatischen Theater, Frankfurt am Main: Verlag der Autoren
  • Murch, Walter (2001), In the blink of an eye. A Perspective on Film editing. Second edition. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press.
  • Nelson, Maggie (2021). On Freedom. Four Songs of Care and Constraint. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press.
  • Ondaatje, Michael (2002): The Conversations, Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. Toronto: Vintage Canada, Random House.
  • Schneider, Michael S. (1994), A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe. The Mathematical archetypes of nature, art and science. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Sennett, Richard (2012), Together, the rituals, pleasures and politics of cooperation. London: Allan Lane.
  • Sennett, Richard (2008), The Craftsman. London: Penguin Books.
  • Solnit Rebecca (2021), Orwell’s Roses. London: Granta.
  • Solnit, Rebecca (2000), Wanderlust, a History of Walking. London: Penguin books.
  • Scarry, Elaine (1999), On Beauty. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Shusterman, Richard (2008), Body Consciousness. A philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sibony, Daniel (1995), Le corps et sa danse. Paris: Editions du Seuil.