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Radical Contact – Meeting on CI and Body Politics

This is a meeting on Contact Improvisation and Body Politics for people familiar with contact improvisation who are interested in body politics, and political activists who are interested in movement, dance, bodywork.

We want to create safer spaces, especially for people who do not usually enjoy the privilege of having their wishes and boundaries respected, who are not usually shielded from abuse and insult. 
We want to explore ways of undoing, unlearning, some of the internalised social norms, habits and ways of being that structure our physicality and affective life. 
We ask questions about the social construction of the body and the axes of oppression and privilege that traverse us and make us what we are. We are interested in how social relations of domination and exploitation (gender, race, class, sexuality…) become concrete and material in our bodies, our patterns of movement, our ways of touching and seeing. 
Who is dancing, with whom, and how?

Femfest – Society critical Festival on Gender

“Experiment on chatting bodies”
Artists: ‘Why Kneel?’ Kollektiv
Dance: Alexandra Schwartz, Teresa Hofmann, Andrea Kneis
Music: Pegelia Gold, Christine Börsch-Supan, Irmi Haager

Artists: ‘Why Kneel?’ Kollektiv
Dance: Alexandra Schwartz, Teresa Hofmann
Music: Pegelia Gold, Christine Börsch-Supan, Irmi Haager

Film Projects

“Utopia” (art film project with refugees)
Director: Maneis Arbab
Actor: Arash
Dance: Alexandra Schwartz
Music: Dirk Rumig


Safer spaces, Empowerment and Connection

I believe in safer spaces. Inclusive spaces. Spaces where we can explore the unknown. Spaces where we can experiment with group dynamics, power relations, finding the borders of where my freedom ends and the other person´s freedom starts.

Thinking about how to create such a space, perhaps even outside the bubble we co-create in community spaces, I find the balancing of two skills central: Empowerment and Connection.

With Empowerment I can…

…identify injustice, express anger, speak up, set boundaries.
…realize my actual potential – be courageous, vulnerable, non-linear.
…build healthy relationships – be connected to my own feelings, communicate needs clearly and listen empathically.

With Connection I can…

…let go of the me-against-the-world struggle and break hierarchies.
…stop being a control freak and start to trust.
…favor cooperation over competition.
…find allies and get organized in groups.
…ask for support when challenges or conflicts arise.
…stop attributing failure to personal inadequacy.


“If only…
I wish I was…
I am not as smart – as talented – as attractive – as…
I can´t do it.
I am all alone.”

For me being empowered and experiencing connection means hearing those voices arise my head and not listening. But how to change this?

First, I needed to understand that these voices are like ghosts from the past telling me to maintain the status quo. In my case this would mean to continue playing the role of the adaptive, smiling ‘nice girl’ when I step out of my comfort zone. Then, I needed to learn about structural power forces at play undermining me to take my next step. And, I needed to build a strong support system around me to actually tackle the underlying mechanisms that reproduce the status-quo.

There are for example workshops dealing with intersectionality, the study of different forms and systems of oppressions (e.g.: Critical Whiteness).

There are exclusive spaces such as ‘FLT*-Räume’ (women/lesbian/trans* shelters).

There are amazing methods working with trauma and empowerment (e.g. Possibility Management), communication and conflict resolution (e.g. Co-counselling/ NVC/ Restorative Justice Circle).

According to neuroscience the time frame for NOW is 3 seconds. This means that our mind can process a new decision every three seconds for the rest of our life. Something about this revelation is relieving. There is enough time to make mistakes, run againgst the wall, take a detour, turn around, try out, try again, rewind, fast forword and play.


I am living a life of tremendous privilege – I am white, middle-class, academic, able-bodied, raised in ‘peaceful’ central Europe. And then I am also a women. To be honest, I didn´t really start to think about what feminism had to do with me until recently.

Growing up with the neoliberal promise of equal opportunities under the condition of working hard sounded attractive. After all, if I can do it, everybody else can too, right? The only thing I never really managed to reconcile was the contradiction of ‘with great privilege comes great responsibility’ and the capitalist values of competition and individualization based on the increasing scarcity of ressources. Upon starting middle school it became clear to me that winners write history and that ‘all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’ (Orwell). I remember my father asking: ‘Who told you life was fair?’

Since I can remember I have had this desire of wanting to belong to the ‘other’ – Robin Hood, Pocahontas, Jeanne D´Arc were my heroes. It wasn´t until my introductory course to feminist philosophy that I understood that in fact I belong to one of the ‘others’- the ‘other’ gender. In the following I would like to share some thoughts around being female in the patriarchal 21st century.

I believe that women today are facing unpreceded contradictory challenges impossible to live up to. Why? Because the modern image of woman does not only have to meet the requirements of the traditional women role (social, empathic, caring, diligent, focus on relationship, household and child raising duty), but also the traditional male role (autonomous, strong, competitive, self-confident, focus on autonomy, bread bringer-duty). Society is calling out for the successful and confident power woman, as long as she is not too successful and confident. How to solve this dilemma? If we want to play the game, we have the option of clinging to something best described as ‘the postfeminist masquerade’ (McRobbie):

“She becomes man´s best buddy and accomplice: cool, easy going, flexible.”

I can relate to this. If I think about it, all of my close friends from school are male or super-power women.

“She thinks she´s emancipated and discredits feminists as sexually frustrated, unattractive lesbians.”

Me, a feminist? God, no! Girls are the education winners. Poor guys who won´t get decent jobs because of us.’- is what I could have thought in my teens.

“She choses hyperfemininity as a mask, staging skillfully the stupid blond to fit into the category of not being a threat.”

Shouldn´t we as women collectively hereby take a moment to thank the beauty and fashion industry for so generously catering for our need of self-actualization!? Sorry for joking. This point is actually quite ambivalent. Obviously not all models are naive and ignorant, just as not all Feminists are tolerant and respectful. And just to be clear, I respect women in this business and trust in their ability of thinking critically.

“She renounces her femininity and uses a masculinized appearance to get respect in the ‘man´s world’.”

It is surprising soothing for many people to gossip about Mrs. Merkel´s last hair cut. I am so tired of women and men following the beauty ideal judging women or men who don´t want to fit into this category. There are days I feel like passing as male and days I feel like a lady. So what?

With this being said it is quite obvious that the so called ‘neoliberal self-optimization’ of the individual (‘You can be whoever you want to be.’) leads to an antifeminist backlash in society. Gender roles are systematically depolitized. Stereotypical biologisms (‘men/women are so and so’) are used to uphold the binary dichotomy of the male and female. And they dismantle sexism (“He is immature!”/”You should dress less sexy!”).

Structural iniquities (e.g. pay gap, women quota) are pushed into the sphere of personal responsibility (if you don´t make it, it´s your fault). And again, don´t get me wrong, it´s not about blame. For me being a queer feminst is being a humanist and treating peole regardless of their identity with respect. In the end, nobody will ‘make it’ by applying the neoliberal strategy of unpacking their tool belt and tightening or losening some screws inside themselves to become even more resiliant.

What we need is a rainbow-colored revival of the Feminist cause where nobody is shut out and everybody is welcome.


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“A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us” Franz Kafka
“T.E.T- Teacher Effectiveness Training” Dr. Thomas Gordon
“P.E.T- Parent Effectivenes Training” Dr. Thomas Gordon
“Familienkonferenz” Dr. Thomas Gordon
“Grundformen der Angst” Fritz Riemann
“Directing the Power of Conscious feelings” Clinton Callahan
“Speak Peace in a World of Conflict – What YOU Say Next Will Change YOUR World” Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. 
“Jenseits von Gut und Böse – Die Genealogie der Moral” Friedrich Nietzsche
“Der eindimensionale Mensch” Herbert Marcuse
“Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Marx and Freud” Erich Fromm
“Diskursanalye – Strafen und Überwachen” Foucault