About the company
The German Swiss performance art collective CocoonDance was founded in 2000 by the Swiss choreographer Rafaële Giovanola and the German dramaturge Rainald Endraß. CocoonDance has been producing and performing in the independent Theater im Ballsaal in Bonn, Germany, since the season 2004/05 and has established itself as a dance art institution with an extensive network not only within the artistic world, but also in the field of cultural education. An important pillar of the company is located in the Swiss Canton of Valais, where CocoonDance has been co-produced since 2005. 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, have been awarded numerous prizes and been invited to showcase festivals in Germany, Switzerland and France like the Tanzplattform Deutschland - Dance Platform Germany, Steps, Antigel, Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, Les Hivernales Avignon etc..
The driving force behind 24 years of artistic development is improvisation, consistent dramaturgy and a strong emphasis on continuous teamwork. CocoonDance’ productions not only break down the spatial barriers of conventional stage experience, but also play with our perception of the body in a sophisticated way. The audience not only participates in a (new) representation of reality, but also in its creation. CocoonDance’ work can be explained as a reflection on dance and the body itself, as a displacement of the dance space from a narrative space to a space of perception and thought.
Rafaële Giovanola (Choreographer), Swiss, born in Baltimore, USA. She studied at Marika Besobrasova in Monte Carlo. Following her first engagement as a soloist in Turin. After one season in Turin, Rafaële Giovanola was engaged by Egon Madsen for the Frankfurt Ballet. There, she danced the classical repertoire and cooperated with several modern choreographers like Jiri Kylian, Uwe Scholz and William Forsythe, the Frankfurt Ballet choreographer. Under his direction she stayed with the Frankfurt Ballet for eight years, being involved in all productions of this new groundbreaking era. During her engagement in Frankfurt, she met the guest-choreographers Daniel Larrieu, Stephen Petronio and Christoph Nel. Since 1990, when the Choreographic Theatre was founded, Rafaële Giovanola is a member of Pavel Mikuláštik’s company. In 1995 Rafaële Giovanola was mentioned in the annual poll of critics of „ballett international/tanz aktuell“ in the category „exceptional dancing personalities“. Rafaële Giovanola has been teaching for different Compagnies like in the Opera of Bonn at the Städtischen Bühnen Freiburg in Breisgau, the tanzhaus NRW in Düsseldorf, the Brotfabrik Bonn, the Theater in St. Gallen (CH), at the Staatstheater Nürnberg and for the Ewgenij Panfilow Company in Perm, Russia. In collaboration with partners like Goethe-Institut and Pro Helvetia she has given workshops around the world. For her work as well in the field of art education Rafaele awarded multiple prizes. For her debut “Jigaboo” she got the award of the Patrizia-Van-Roessel Foundation (NL), in 2007 she won the international internet-dance festival SideBySide-net, in 2010 the sponsorship grant from the canton of Valais, in 2021 she received the cultural award of the city of Monthey and in 2022 the Deutsche Theaterpreis DER FAUST. In 2017 she established a junior company in Monthey (CH) and before 2012 in Bonn, which have been awarded numerous prizes like “Kinder zum Olymp”, “Auf dem Weg zum Kinder- und Jugendkulturland NRW” and was invited in 2016, 2019 and 2023 to “Tanztreffen der Jugend” as part of the Berliner Festspiele.
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 on CocoonDance
For more than 22 years they have developed time and again, under the CocoonDance label, surprisingly innovative productions ... Indeed, they are never before seen artistic beings, who have unleashed a hypnotic power in all their productions to date. … So far, all artistic performances from this series have been – due to their highly aesthetic quality of movement and choreographic originality, yet also tiny, humorous accents – fantastic dance utopias. (Bettina Trouwborst, tanz, 05/2022)
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)