Who needs a Dramaturg?

Workshop on Dance Dramaturgy and Creative Process, for choreographers and their artistic collaborators.

The underlying idea of the workshop is that as a choreographer you don’t necessarily need a dramaturg but you should develop your own dramaturgical reflection on your artistic practice. The workshop will offer participants practical tools and exercises to reflect upon, to evaluate and eventually to transform their creative process.

Using the cross, circle and labyrinth as graphic symbols, we discuss the essential polarities of the creative process: perception, formation, intuition, experience. In the workshop we focus on perception (what to look for), articulation (how to express oneself best in order to get what one is looking for) and interdisciplinary practices: looking at how artists work in other disciplines and finding creative ‘translations’ of this toward one’s own practice.

Through practical and physical exercises we explore how dramaturgy/the dramaturg can contribute to this process as witness, dialogue partner and ‘editor’. We will focus amongst others on the importance of rhythm and transitions inside the editing process.

The final goal of the workshop is to gain a different, renewed perspective of one’s own creative and choreographic process and methodologies through discovering the diversity of practices of the other participants.


The workshop was originally commissioned by Circuit Est in Montréal and developed in close collaboration with the Canadian dance artists Ginelle Chagnon and Lin Snelling. Over a period of fifteen year it has further grown with the input of all its participants in amongst other, the following places and dance communities. During COVID, we also developed an online version.
  • Impulstanz, Vienna, Austria
  • Circuit Est, Montréal, Canada
  • Artère, Québec, Canada
  • Toronto Dance Theatre, Canada
  • Ottawa Dance Directive, Canada
  • Dance House Limassol, Cyprus
  • NIMAC, as part of the Open Up Creative Europe project, Nicosia, Cyprus
  • PERA, Cyprus
  • Tanec Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
  • CND Toulouse, France
  • iDas, Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Isadora Duncan Dance Centre, Athens, Greece
  • Anghiari Dance Hub, Italy
  • Balletto di Roma, Italy
  • B-Motion Festival, Bassano Del Grappa, Italy
  • Festival Equilibrio, Rome, Italy
  • Dance House, Dublin, Ireland
  • Dansmakers as part of the New Moves Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • DansBrabant as part of the International Choreographer’s Week, Tilburg, Netherlands
  • COMMA, MA in choreography, Codarts, Rotterdam and Fontys, Tilburg, Netherlands
  • Arts Station Foundation, Poznan, Poland
  • Institute for Music and Dance, Warsaw Poland
  • La Caldera, Barcelona, Spain
  • Canal Dance Center, Madrid, Spain
  • Dancelab, Seoul, South-Korea
  • Theatre Sévelin as part of the project Danse et Dramaturgie, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Dance Base, Edinburgh, UK
  • The Place, London, UK

Rewriting Distance

Rewriting Distance is an interdisciplinary, improvised performance practice developed by Canadian choreographer Lin Snelling and Belgian dance dramaturg Guy Cools. It explores ‘story telling’ through dance and movement, spoken word and writing. The participants (which can come from different disciplines) are invited to ask their own questions inside the Rewriting Distance form. What is so fascinating about the Rewriting Distance practice; as we have quite a bit of acquired knowledge on acting pedagogy and some of its inherent hierarchies; is that we are, in many ways, reversing the history of these things by beginning with the body and not the word. We are researching the underneath of language and by doing so, giving voice to its’ physicality. Discovering along the way the interconnectedness of all ways of speaking and communicating for the sake of telling an intimate story whose coherence is shaped by the people in the room at that very moment.

These week-long performance/practice research periods build on Repeating Distance, the improvised practice we developed together since 2003. While developing Repeating Distance we became more and more aware of how the spoken word and the physical action/movement are parallel tracks that are both driven by the mind and the body that have interrelated and interconnected memories. The workshop can be taught by either or by both of us.


The Repeating and Rewriting Distance workshop has been taught separately or in combination with the Rewriting Distance performances in the following places:
  • ImpulsTanz, Vienna, Austria
  • IDOCDE Symposium, Teach me (Not), Vienna, Austria
  • KASK, Gent, Belgium
  • Mocean Dance, Halifax, Canada
  • Crimson Coast Dance Society, Nanaimo, Canada
  • Concordia University as part of Conference Research in Dance, Montréal, Canada
  • Circuit Est, Montréal, Canada
  • Toronto Dance Theatre, Canada
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
  • Miles Zero Dance, Edmonton, Canada
  • Pelma, Limassol, Cyprus
  • Tanzfabrik, Berlin, Germany
  • Isadora Duncan Dance Centre, Athens, Greece
  • International Kalamata Dance Festival, Greece
  • Dance Centre, Dublin, Ireland
  • University of Limerick, Ireland
  • Station Zuid, Tilburg, Netherlands
  • The Place as part of Choreodrome, London, UK

Performing Mourning

Dialoguing with those who are absent.

Based on my book publications, Performing Mourning, Laments in Contemporary Art (2021), we look at how the Greek moiroloi (lamentations) can be used as a template for contemporary art practices that deal with mourning and grief. The workshop consists of a short lecture and a workshop in creative writing.

The living, oral tradition of the moiroloi is not only used to mourn the death, but the same, improvised songs are also used in the context of weddings (to say goodbye to the bride leaving her family) or to dialogue with those who have migrated. The moiroloi are by nature theatrical and dramatic in the way the singer addresses the absent person and temporarily lends him her voice to answer back: a widow talks to her husband, a mother to her married daughter, a corpse to its own ‘tired body’.

In the lecture and workshop we explore the antiphonic structure of the Greek laments to dialogue with those who are absent in our own lives.


The workshop has been organized in the following places:
  • University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Dance House Stegi, Limassol, Cyprus
  • Light Moves Festival, Limerick, Ireland
  • Cie Mouvoir, Köln, Germany
  • Isadora Duncan Dance Center, Athens, Greece

MA Courses

Based on specific research topics, I have designed and taught unique courses MA courses such as:

Research seminar: Actual Performance Theories. Corporealities in Contemporary Performing Arts At University of Gent, 2015.

This seminar looks at the diverse ways the body is looked at in contemporary performance arts, dance in particular. It focuses on the paradigm shift from the 20th to the 21st century where the ‘transgression of the body’ which still remains a dominant paradigm is countered by new attitudes that often built on non-Western and more traditional performance cultures in which ‘caring for the body’ regains importance. This seminar builds on the insights of the book, The Ethics of Art. Ecological turns in the Performing Arts (2014).

Rewriting Distance. Tools for actors and directors to explore and relate to the actual spaces they inhabit and to integrate spoken word, movement and creative writing. At University of Ottawa, 2017.

In this course, the Rewriting Distance performance practice is shared which will allow the students to further develop both their performance skills and their skills to create and edit work, using the narratives that their daily environment offers them.

Course work consists of a daily physical and vocal warm up and training; explorative exercises that focus on one of the aspects of the practice, such as the exploration of space or the integration of movement and spoken word; the Rewriting Distance practice in different group constellations; creative writing and group discussions.

Performing Mourning. Laments in contemporary art. How to dialogue with those who are absent. Online Version. At University of Ottawa, 2019.

In this course, we use the Greek moiroloi - a living tradition of lamentations, still practiced in parts of rural Greece as a template to look at contemporary art practices that deal with mourning and grief.

The moiroloi are a starting point and a source of inspiration to create our own laments. This creation process is done in two parts: a creative writing practice and a performative practice in which we create short, solo performances, integrating elements from different disciplines (literature, music, visual arts).

Parallel to the creation of our own laments, we will explore how we can support each other’s creative process through a peer-to-peer, dramaturgical accompaniment.


Mentor, coach, facilitator? None of these terms captures the essence of a creative dialogue and exchange between two equal partners. Where in the workshops, one of my main aims is to stimulate and support peer-to-peer exchange, the ‘mentoring’ happens in a one-on-one relationship, where the questions, concerns and desires of the individual artists are the starting point for a dialogue and exchange.

  • Double Program, Migros, Zürich, 2021-2020
  • Atlas project, Impulstanz, 2021-2019
  • Anghiari Dance Hub, 2021-2015
  • Biennale Dance College, Venice, 2020-2018
  • Interdisciplinary LAbO, Champ d’Action, Antwerp, 2017
  • Art Stations Foundation, Poznan, 2017
  • Project Danse et Dramaturgie, Théâtre Sévelin, Lausanne, 2015-2013
  • Werkstücke, Tanzquartier, Vienna, 2012
  • Choreoroam, Operaestate, Bassano del Grappa, 2011
  • Interrarium Project, Banff, 2011
  • Triptych, an exchange project between Operaestate, Bassano del Grappa; Circuit Est, Montréal and Dance Center, Vancouver, 2011-2010
  • Big Intensive, Sadler’s Wells, London, 2008-2006
  • Exploratorium Project, Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts, 2002.