4 Performer, 1 Technician

Space: 10m x 10m

Duration: ca. 0:45 h


Premiere: 02.03.2018 / Bonn


In collaboration with: Théâtre du Crochetan Monthey, Malévoz Quartier Culturel,  Ringlokschuppen Ruhr Mülheim, Theater im Ballsaal Bonn


Funded by: Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Bundesstadt Bonn

and within the frame of the residency programme: Théâtre-ProVS, Le Conseil de la Culture Etat du Valais, La Loterie Romande


With (current line-up): Fa-Hsuan Chen/ Martina De Dominicis/ Tanja Marín Friðjónsdóttir/ Anna Kempin/ Susanne Schneider/ Marie Viennot • By (original line-up): Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Tanja Marín Friðjónsdóttir, Susanne Schneider • Choreography: Rafaële Giovanola • Composition, Sound: Franco Mento • Light, Space: Gregor Glogowski

• Costumes: CocoonDance • Pictures: Klaus Fröhlich • Video trailer: Michael Maurissens • Choreographic assistance: Leonardo Rodrigues • Dramaturgy, Concept: Rainald Endraß • Management: Mechtild Tellmann




VIS MOTRIX creates some strange as well as fascinating beings. The dancers seem to come from another world, they move through space and merge into an organism, a mixture of human being and machine, creating a hypnotic power that one can not escape.

What is the driving force, the soul (Vis Motrix) behind the movements of these hybrid beings? CocoonDance continues with this production its research of the “unthought” body: transhumanism as a traumatic round dance that does not leave our unconsciousness untouched.


VIS MOTRIX was invited  to the Tanzplattform Germany in 2020

in Munich and nominated for "Performance of the Year" in the critics’ survey of the professional magazine “tanz 2019 “by  Bettina Trouwborst (Westdeutsche Zeitung): "'Vis motrix' by CocoonDance, Bonn: a work of hypnotic motion intelligence." (Jahrbuch Tanz 2019)




... these bodies here seem like aliens. Alien in the form, alien in the movement, alien in the outfit. They seem to come from another world. Not human, not animal, not machine - and yet something of everything: hybrid beings as they display  through their movements. (...) The dancers, Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Tanja Marin Friđjónsdóttir and Susanne Schneider, are above all the ones who are strengthening the hybrid choreography by Rafaële Giovanola - oscillating between human and animal - through their strong presence. (Klaus Keil, tanzweb.org, 04.03.2018)


For Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Tanja Marin Fridjonsdottir and Susanne Schneider, it must be a tremendous challenge to endure for 45 minutes such an extreme body tension. They master it with bravery. Like insects they are gliding across the floor, turning 180 degrees in a flash, moving their limbs with a sudden jerk, and thereby creating for the spectator something that strangely oscillates between a biological organism and a mechanism. And that is very fascinating. (Bernhard Hartmann, General-Anzeiger Bonn, 05.03.2018)


Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Tanja Marin Friðjónsdóttir and Susanne Schneider are doing this kind of dance very intensively, to sheer perfection, fluently and with an admirable sense of timing! (Jürgen Bieler, Bonner Rundschau, 09.03.2018)


Pure movement can not be visualized, but we can sense its magic as well as its mechanical effect inside every living being. … Rafaële Giovanola offers her audience a view of the female body never seen before. Just for this visual stroke of genius the production deserves attention. … Cocoondance shows how entertaining a production can be which is developed with strict formalism and playing out, with mathematical precision, multiple combinations of four bodies in space. (Thomas Linden, Kölnische Rundschau,  20.03.2018)


They appear like hybrid beings between human, animal and machine. Through the light design of Gregor Glogowski a filigree calligraphy emerges from their bodies and shadows, but signs of it remain indecipherable. The extreme body tension goes to the limits of what is physically possible. The dancers master the challenge brilliantly." (Elisabeth Eincke-Klövekorn, culture No. 145 / March 2018) 


In VIS MOTRIX CocoonDance choreographer Rafaële Giovanola challenges her dancers to a maximum physical performance. Vis means power in Latin. Motrix is the grammatically feminine form of engine. ... Mysterious hybrid beings who move strangely; alien, but by no means threatening. … Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Tanja Marin Fridjonsdottir and Susanne Schneider are accomplishing in VIS MOTRIX an outstanding artistic and physical feat. (Sandra Prüfer, bonnections.de, 13.04.2018)


They never rise on their two legs - except for a short exception, but then they fail on the solid verticalness, crashing and falling like waves. As previously in "Momentum", VIS MOTRIX also pursues the depersonalization, without miming old-fashioned robots. It excavates an unfamiliar, soulless human component from the female dancers and their togetherness, which is meant to be futuristic and has something strangely magical about it: an ageless power." (Melanie Suchy, Stadtrevue Kölnmagazin, 4/2018)


Anyone who has watched the guest performance of the Bonn dance ensemble CocoonDance at the Move Dance Festival at Fabrik Heeder leaves the hall both fascinated and enraptured. Fascinated because you rarely see such movements on the dance stage. Enraptured because the recent production VIS MOTRIX by choreographer Rafaële Giovanola unfolds a hypnotic maelstrom .... . (Bettina Trouwborst, Westdeutsche Zeitung, 12.11.2018)


 "Vis motrix" is about the origin of all life, about the "moving force". … With the grace of black spiders, they scurry unpredictably through the space, but still noticeably follow a mysterious inner logic, seem to develop a kind of swarm intelligence or to behave according to the rules mathematical combinatorics of cellular automatons, as used to create artificial intelligence. … The female dancers are fantastic sci-fi superorganisms on the track of the secret of life.” (Nicole Strecker, tanz, 12/2018)



Festival ANTIGEL 2020 in Geneva (CH) 


"Vis Motrix", by Rafaële Giovanola, is a hypnotic specimen. A cybernetic atmosphere makes the show all the more exciting – the gestures and movements of each woman are choreographed, who maintain a certain freedom of movement within a given structure that is constantly being renewed. … It's one thing to worry about the future, but it's another to establish its dystopian fragility. Without a doubt, "Vis Motrix” manages to do both.  (Victor Inisan, I/O Gazette, Paris, n°108 02.02.2020)


The technique, the listening, the beauty, and the power are breathtaking. Everything in this hopeless construction is perfect; the light oscillates and the sound, an electro loop, completes the process of giving shape to the space.

With a depth reminiscent of Myriam Gourfink's research and with a rage dear to Nach [alias Anne-Marie Vann], Rafaële Giovanola has embarked on a radical and yet generous quest. The obsession with repetition of gesture and the purity of the choreography, combined with a dose of improvisation and of the dancers’ listening, make Vis Motrix a generous work that injects retinal images into our brains. This movement on four legs is a work of genius. (Amelie Blaustein, toutelaculture.com, Paris, 14.02.2020)


Rafaële Giovanola's very mechanical choreography captivates because, far from being indulgent, it tells a story – that of another world on the brink of transhumanism. Obsessed as much by the iteration of the gestures as by the purity of the grammar, she choreographs only what is essential in order to leave plenty of room for improvisation, for the dancers to listen to one another. This is what gives the ensemble a kind of harmony reminiscent of insects living in a colony. (Olivier Frégaville-Gratian d'Amore, L'OEIL D'OLIVIER, Paris, 15.02.2020)




The "Dance Platform Germany" in Munich started impressively. … One was exposed to totally strange optics - increasingly fascinated - in "Vis Motrix" by choreographer Rafaële Giovanola. Her four dancers (CocoonDance/Bonn) are lying on their backs on the floor. Then energetic rib cages arch, knees are bent, elbows are propped up. How these bodies then - comparable to electronic particles - slide across the white surface at different speeds, dynamics and dance-technical complexity is sensational. (Vesna Mlakar, Münchner Abendzeitung, 07.03.2020)


The absolute highlights of the dance platform are ultimately the pieces that are actually very dance-like and non-linguistic, pieces that are limited to an aesthetic concept and follow this consistently, delicately and with a well-worked dramaturgy. (...) "Vis Motrix", the work of the CocoonDance company, which was already at the 2028 Dance Platform in Essen with "Momentum", presents a finely crafted and exciting piece. In spider-like movements, the four dancers fight against gravity, always with their backs on the ground. An unreal atmosphere that is gaining constantly increasing more and more intensity. (Peter Sampel, retrieved 09.03.2020, www.tanznetz.de/blog)


In VIS MOTRIX, "the moving power" in Latin, the Cocoon Dance ensemble manages to bring to the stage a piece that merges the boundaries between man and machine with the aid of staccato, mechanically precise movements and mesmerizing music. Driven by the "moving power", the dancers gradually teach themselves to dance. This leads to a consistent tension build-up which manages to capture the audience’s imagination, even without a grand finale. (Tobias Faget, M94.5, THAT WAS THE 2020 DANCE PLATFORM! Retrieved 09.03.2020, from  https://www.m945.de/das-war-die-tanzplattform-2020/)…


At the 2020 Dance Platform Germany, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in Munich, the audience could explore how the art form now deals with the political sphere in which above all the body speaks. The best or most interesting of contemporary dance promulgated loudly and quietly, bluntly and indirectly the world we live in. This year's dance platform has lived up to its reputation as a discovery platform. While established ensembles, such as Gintersdorfer / Klaassen, are self-congratulatory tongue-in-cheek ploughing through the field of cultural appropriation -… - there are many successful new productions that are stingy with distinct proclamations. Even so their topic is decidedly political. ... And what about strictly formal works like "Vis motrix"? In the piece by Bonn's CocoonDance ensemble, four dancers slide in a sustine position on a white squared stage. Their minimalistic, only gradually increasing, alien to ant-like movements offer a glimpse into a frighteningly fascinating post- or transhuman future. For this glimpse, the stupendous dance technique disappears, whose full mastery in turn led to the disappearance of the concrete bodies of the dancers. Gender, skin color and corresponding attributions no longer play a role at this level of abstraction. (Sabine Leucht, taz, die tageszeitung 09.03.2020)


… way more impressive piece "Vis Motrix", that animates four female dancers to crawl on their backs and bums in “A Bug’s Life” manner: like mechanically moving spider women, artificially moved black widows. This itself, over forty minutes, is already a powerful acrobatic event, but it goes well beyond that. It shows, one could say, how the human becomes a stranger to himself by crawling towards the Golden Age, but moving further and further away from it. (Michael Helbing, Thüringer Allgemeine Zeitung, Sept. 7th, 2020)


In addition to the main venue, the festival [Kunstfest Weimar] diffused through the whole city as well as into the surrounding region  Performances are now being staged at prefabricated housing settlements and in villages, like by a cart of Thespis, many new small formats were invented, and some of the original plan could be adapted to the prevailing conditions. This also made it possible to perform a hypnotic dance piece at the large National Theater building, though only with a quarter of the seats occupied. ... - and one notices no restrictions: Beings between a human and a machine are moving in a heteronomous mode, creepy and fascinating at the same time."

(Egbert Tholl, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 09/11/2020)


Bonn’s CocoonDance company lends at the “Eintanzhaus” in Mannheim to the art of movement in several dimensions (subtitle) ... “Vis Motrix” is the moving force of a body. The term goes back to the German natural philosopher Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who attributed a divine power to the planets. The Bonn-based dance CocoonDance company and its choreographer Rafaële Giovanola condensed Kepler's idea into a minimalist performance. And exactly through this formula the company achieves, time and again, mastery. ... The female performers show here not only an outstanding dance movement capacity, but they also create an overall ambiguous effect. In fact, the entire play of movements of the dark bodies on the white floor, combined with the sound, is a graphic “Gesamtkunstwerk”, a synthesis of the arts. At the same time, Giovanola succeeds in adding a mythical dimension to the unique movement quality. These four on-the-back-runners might be Odyssey Sirens who look out for seafarers on their rock, while beguilingly moving in their peculiar kind of gait.  (Nora Abdel Rahman, Mannheimer Morgen, October 26th, 2020)


What the choreographer came up with and pursued with ironclad determination is a strong, truly impressive piece. (Subtitle)  …

Where and what is the moving power in the bodies which, one can assume, stands here for the existence itself? Does it come from the outside? Is it triggered by the music as is usually the case in the dance? (… ) The music is only the vehicle, but not the source of the energy. Does the energy generate from the bodies themselves, and thus appears to be so burdensome in its mechanistic obscurity? Or does it come from the outside, but wherefrom and how? Contemporary dance doesn't feel compelled to proclaim certainties. It considers itself as a field for our own associations, and here there could be plenty. The outfit of the four dancers: black leotards and the hair pinned into a small bun. Absence of any individuality. Their pattern on the surface, between seeming chaos and real mathematical precision, makes one think of Leibniz's philosophy, in which the universe consists of tiny individual particles that move without interaction in a “pre-established harmony”. The human, who is defined by the upright walking, is in this dance piece just an episode.  (Heike Marx, Die Rheinpfalz, No. 249, October 26th, 2020)


This gliding and sliding seems as if they were powered by a lubricated mechanism below the center of gravity; the twitching and leaping, the rapid 180-degree turns, the slow-motion movements, all this generates a hypnotic maelstrom. The movements, in unison and individually, cause sensory delusions. Due to the sophisticated stage lighting, shadow images of the bodies appear on the wall as well as on the floor. Who is in control of these unprecedented bodies? What moves those humanoid beings who are not aware of one another, never touch or look at each other? Choreographer Rafaële Giovanola does not provide any answers, she entices the spectators into another world and lets them ponder over the future of the human race. Fa-Hsuan Chen, Martina De Dominicis, Tanja Marin Friõjónsdóttir and Susanne Schneider go to the limit of what is physically possible, their bodies are under constant tension, the hips are flexible and even the extremities seem to have built-in hinges. The flow of energy, constantly pulsing through them, is almost visible. Fascinating. (Ditta Rudle, tanzschrift.at, 03/13/2023)


Movements! And what kind of! Almost unbelievable physical theater.

(Heinz Wagner, kijuku.at, 03/16/2023)