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empathy in movement






care FULL*

empathy in movement is an on-going artistic research and movement practice of dance artist Susanna Ylikoski. The practice was created during a research phase and further explored in a practice phase with participants. It draws inspiration from approaches Feldenkrais method, dream work, and Vipassana meditation. By observing the subtle listening of the body, the research questions were explored through anthropological, philosophical, sociological, psychological, and somatic inquiries on ontology, liminality, and relativity, with a focus point on perception.


When moving from an empathic starting point and in relation to our environment How does our body make decisions to animate itself? What affects us? What makes us orientate the way we do? How can we expose the body and its environments dynamic interrelationship and resonance? 

The somatic practice developed through the first phase of the research studies how the body in situ makes decisions, by training the ability to follow both the directionality and the dynamic nature of sensorial information. This is approached through the relativity of the space and the body mapping the attractions (space) and tensions (time), and how the act of simply giving attention to this relativity animates the body into movement.

The afore-mentioned ability and availability are approached by focusing on the question what and how do we pay attention. The practitioners train their awareness on what they are naturally attracted to, as well as, how that attention is, and what happens to their attention when it is being paid attention to and given time. By allowing the individual tendencies of the use of attention to be acknowledged, over time a mirroring effect occurs: the attractions reveal their negations, what practitioners are naturally averting from becomes clearer, enabling the blind spots to become visible and interactive. The research studies the challenges that are met the moment when we can establish an interactive play between the I and its blind spots. That is, the decision to include or exclude turns into active decision making; to how many things can the practitioner be attentive to in their immediate environment & what does that do to them in terms of their understanding and worldview; re-examining and expanding a collaborative nature between acceptance and allowance; and expanding boundaries of what is intelligible.

Movement is approached through the sensorial information: perceived sensations, emotions, motions, thoughts, images, rhythms, and directions, in relation to space and other bodies. By surrendering to the perceivable information and giving attention to them – shifts, changes, residues, growths, erasures, etc. will occur. This focus on bodily processes with a simultaneous focus on the spatial information creates a bridge to a third focus at their meeting point: an alternative reading of a situation is opened. When the points of emissions, trajectories & durations become clear, we can start to approach the questions of what and how do we engage, what and how do we communicate, and even what is needed and how that need should be responded to. We start to distinguish when we are in a reflexive - or responsive relation to a situation, and from which place do we interact from: is it societal - or energetical empathy (physics). The normative consensus of the practitioner’s identity, logic and kinship become challenged – opening a space to an alternative and unfamiliar relativity (often beyond binary schools of thoughts).

The practice gives space to alternative power relations to emerge by challenging the practitioner’s habitual perception and trains the ability of ‘presence of experience’: an unfiltered and deeply personal attunement on how a situation informs, affects, and transforms the embodied image of the body in situ. The practice trains how to transparently share the visceral experience to another; affect and be affected by; what is the limit to ourselves, to others, to space, to information; & making visible the process of how our bodies are constantly remade.



*Special thanks to Raz Mantell for this note.

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The following videos are excerpts from the research ‘empathy in movement’ with participants from nein9 kollektiv Raz Mantell, Omer Keinan, Lena Klink, Jin Lee, and Rotem Weissman, and with guest collaborators Máté Asbót and Amit Landau. The texts are corresponding to the themes worked on each session.

Omer Keinan & Lena Klink

Tanzfabrik Berlin, July 2021

"To how many things are you giving attention to? When your attention stays in one place does the nature of it change, or the thing given attention to change? If your attention travels, how does it travel? Does that invoke a rhythm, a pathway? How is your body responding, is it going away, towards, somewhere else, or does it become still in relation? How is that felt in the body?"

Raz Mantell
Tanzfabrik Berlin, July 2021

"What is the difference between ‘being the author’ and ‘being the text’, ‘I am the writer’ and ‘this is what is written’? Are movements: it does, I do, in correlation to a linguistic structure and a mode of perceiving: form, content, logic, and so meaning?"

Amit Landau, Raz Mantell, Rotem Weissman & Máté Asbót
Tanzfabrik Berlin, July 2021

"What can be a non-violent relation? Three actions: one you notice, two you give attention, three you let go. What occurs then? What and where are you invited to? How do you work together? How, do you work with the impulses you receive? Do you react, copy, or respond?"

Raz Mantell, Máté Asbót & Omer Keinan
Uferstudios Berlin, July 2021

"What is the dialogue that the body is experiencing in a conversation? How does the body respond to the act of listening? What do you listen to? What is the bodily experience of listening? How do you listen to a form? Do you place the attention outside of yourself or inside?"

Raz Mantell, Lena Klink & Jin Lee
Tanzfabrik Berlin, June 2021

"How can the other bodies and the environment be the gravitational frame to yourself? What is the dynamic nature of your (de)attractions and tensions? How does that information disjoint the personal truth? What about its potentiality?"


Seeing and moving - dance symposium, Open workshop: Leipzig 24.-25.07.2021

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