Rehersal pictures by Klaus Fröhlich and Alessandro De Matteis



6 performers, 1 technician

Space: 10 m x 12 m


German premiere: 18.09.2020,

Ringlokschuppen Ruhr Mülheim (DE)


Swiss premiere: 23.09.2020,

Théâtre du Crochetan Monthey (CH)


Co-produced by Ringlokschuppen Ruhr Mülheim, Théâtre du Crochetan Monthey and Hessisches Staatsballett in the frame of Tanzplattform Rhein-Main, a collaboration project between the Hessisches Staatsballett in Staatstheater Darmstadt and Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt.


In collaboration with Malévoz Quartier Culturel and Theater im Ballsaal Bonn.


Funded by: Pro Helvetia, ThéâtrePro Valais, Loterie Suisse Romande, Conseil de la Culture État du Valais, Fonds Darstellende Künste, Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, NRW Landesbüro Darstellende Künste, RheinEnergieStiftung Kultur, Bundesstadt Bonn  


By and with: Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Álvaro Esteban, Tanja Marin Friðjónsdóttir/ Susanne Schneider, Anna Harms, Frédéric Voeffray

• Choreography:  Rafaële Giovanola

• Composition: Jörg Ritzenhoff, Franco Mento • Light, space: Boris Kahnert, Peter Behle • Costumes: Mathilde Grebot

• Coaching Ballett: Isabelle Fokine

• Coaching Muay Thai: Priest West

• Outside eye:  Susanne Schneider/ Tanja Marín Friðjónsdóttir, Leonardo Rodrigues

• Dramaturgy: Rainald  Endraß 

• Production management:

• Daniela Ebert, Neele Renzland

• Management: Mechtild Tellmann, GROUNDWORKERS




HYBRIDITY is the third part of a work cycle in which the ensemble around the choreographer Rafaële Giovanola has developed different scenarios that show our human body exposed in a radically changing world. As in the previous successful pieces “Momentum” and “Vis Motrix”, the CocoonDance Company once again draws inspiration from external body techniques in its search for the still 'unthought' body.


The starting point is the encounter and blending of two very different cultures of movement: Thai boxing on the one hand, which has been practiced in Thailand for centuries, and, on the other hand, the romantic ballet of the early 20th century. Both forms of movement are part of the cultural heritage, still influencing the traditional body images in Asia and Central Europe. They could hardly be more contrary. On the one side the choreographic ideal

of the immaterial, ethereal body, on the other side a full-contact martial sport.


In order to be able to study the material as authentically as possible, several work phases took place in collaboration with Isabelle Fokine, the granddaughter of Michail Fokine and manager of the  Fokine Estate Archive, who advises ballet companies worldwide on rehearsing the choreographies, as well as with

Priest West, a German kickboxer and former World and European Muay Thai champion.


For a strategy of hybridity, it is necessary to unite something that was not previously connected, neither spatially nor temporally.

For the present project, it offers us the opportunity to generate new forms of embodiment through the fusion of two opposing body techniques, such as ballet and Thai boxing, and to contribute to an expansion of our definition of the body. Such a method does not draw on traditional body images, nor on a social construction of body and gender.




Rafaële Giovanola develops an eerie, alien, almost extraterrestrial-seeming choreography in »Hybridity«. A breeze of science fiction swirls around the twitching bodies of the six dancers as they set

in motion, deeply inhibited and fighting against a superhuman resistance. With every strenuous dance step they penetrate into the brittle rhythm which always gets out of step, could slip away and pull back their bodies any time. All the more infatuating, one watches the hard labor of the ensemble and the corresponding movements in space: twists and turns, forwards and backwards

to avoid each other, encounters without proximity, contactless dances and shadow battles which gradually unfold their own

poetic dynamics. ... The unfolding freedom of this fascinating

dance production arises out of the bodies themselves. As abstract as this interplay and the rhythm might appear, the restlessness of the female and male dancers translates into the increasing free movements of their legs and arms. ... Like plants in fast motion,

the bodies grow out of their distortions. Squeaking on the floor, however, the dancers circumvent any illusion, and once again create a confusing eerie hybrid mixture of a gym and a dream garden. Torn back and forth between those worlds, the fight movements take up more space, creating their own startling beauty. From the twitching to the free flow of muscles and tendons, an enigmatic being comes into focus that appears

to be tangible, though is never approachable. Here, somewhere between all the confusing movements, an enigmatic figure appears that looks incredibly familiar in between all the playful and danced possibilities. Neither here nor there, the movements become absorbed in an extremely captivating dance production, without disappearing from view for a second.

(Christoph Pierschke, Schnuess, 11.2020)


… “Hybridity” continues a development that already emerged in

the earlier pieces “Momentum” and “Vis Motrix”, both of which

were invited to the “Tanzplattform Deutschland” biennial in 2018 and 2020. ... It's always about different movement formulas and concepts which don’t belong to the usual vocabulary of modern dance. In the current piece, one experiences the fusion of Thai boxing and ballet, executed by four female dancers (Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Susanne Schneider, Anna Harms) and two male  dancers (Álvaro Esteban, Frédéric Voeffray), over an exciting hour . ... The choreography manifests itself in a tremendously exhausting crescendo that initially requires mostly footwork.

The music at the same time picks up speed, piercing and unrelenting, sometimes as if powered by a flywheel. In this brilliant etude "Hybridity" as well, the dancers burn off their energies to the point of exhaustion. When at some point they break down on the floor and only find their way to keep on moving through the nasty squeaking sound of their leggings rubbing against the floor, this

has a splendid effect. Even more compelling, however, is the sudden activation of their arms and hands, performing boxing movements at a lightning speed. The audience was likewise impressed and cheered loudly at the end.

(Bernhard Hartmann, General-Anzeiger, Bonn, 02.10.2020)


The audience at the Germany premiere at the Ringlokschuppen was fascinated by the sensual and exciting work ... The dancers around choreographer Rafaële Giovanola and dramaturge Rainald Endraß have carefully researched, identified the movement vocabulary of the romantic ballet and Asian martial arts and then isolated individual vocabs. .... From these individual “components”,

they created through their collaborative and improvisational work an extraordinary choreography which also dissolves and merges traditional body images (embodied through male-martial and female-fairy arts). In a group of six, the dancers move through

the room. Initially only their legs are referring with an increasing dynamism to different elements of Ballet or Muay Thai. Over time, their language of movement becomes more and more complex,

the rhythm more and more frenzied. The dancers are "in search of the unthought-body", a hybrid being between the human and the machine that unites the opposites - the pounding of the boxer

with the feathers of the ballerina, the graceful twists, leaps and gestures of the ballet dancers with the skillful hand and footwork of the martial art warriors. The dancers vary and combine these isolated movements and stances in always different ways. To the electro-acoustic music (or rather tones and noises) by Frank Mento (after motives from a composition by Jörg Ritzenhoff), in which sometimes the filigree and lovely ballet, sometimes the pushing and martial art submerges. Against this backdrop, the company presents an ingeniously developed and energetic dance theater that aims to offer new ways of thinking and definitions and is not only artistically ambitious, but also a very remarkable physical feat. The audience rightly celebrated the dancers.

(Andrea Müller, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 20.09.2020)


From the first second, the room is filled with the energy of the dancers. ... Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Álvaro Esteban, Susanne Schneider, Anna Harms and Frédéric Voeffray manage to generate from this pulsating basic energy over and over again blazingly fast movements. Giovanola has developed something completely new here. As being shot from a rubber band bow, they are shooting across the dance floor without touching each other. But it is always the legs that cause the explosive movements here. ... In the second half the hands suddenly become active, the fists perform Thai boxing movements at a breathtaking speed. This leads to a new level of energy that was even unimaginable after the earlier fast and furious performance. … When the troupe re-enters the stage for the applause, De Dominicis is covered in sweat.

The audience feels statically charged nevertheless, even when the rest of the troupe pretends as if they haven't been affected by the exertions of this evening. The audience meanwhile, refusing to accept this nonchalant attitude, erupts into a jeering and boundless frenetic applause.

(Michael S. Zerban, O-Ton Online, 21.09.2020)


Unforgettable images are created by ... the ensemble of CocoonDance from Bonn… . This is where old-fashioned clichés

of tough, fighting men and angelic tender women are broken up. Boxing ring meets ballet stage.

(Thomas Linden Kölnische Rundschau, April 30th, 2021)


Contemporary dance often plays with apparent boundaries. .... Anyhow, the crossing of often ostensible borders is such a wonderful feature of contemporary dance that can often interconnect the arts in a really impressive way. And in ..."Hybridity''

this very dialectic of contemporary dance is even more obvious.

So what is this dialectic? It’s about creating something new out of often contradicting, not uncommonly stemming from different aesthetics or opposing styles, ideas or even dance traditions through negotiation and penetration, ultimately through fusion on a higher level that bears in itself the contradiction, yet harmonizing reconciles. In the case of Rafaële Giovanola's "Hybridity", it is the movement languages of the romantic ballet and Thai boxing that are turned into a "hybrid". … Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Álvaro Esteban, Susanne Schneider, Anna Harms and Frédéric Voeffray impress up to a state of complete exhaustion.

(Christian Oscar Gazsi Laki, Westdeutsche Zeitung, May 4th, 2021)


The dancers maintain eye contact among one another, but never body contact. Their watchful gaze is reminiscent of animals that are never protected from natural predators. This fusion of human and animal, of desire and rejection, is what makes “Hybridity”

so appealing. ... Inspired by different body concepts, such as martial arts or classical ballet, Giovanola and her powerful company embark on an exploration of the limits of the human body. …

“Hybridity” does not provide any answers, rather the incredibly vigorous dancers transform traditional body images together into something new, hybrid, strong and fragile at the same time, something that overcomes stereotypes.

(Isabel Mankas-Fuest, Rheinische Post, May 7th, 2021)