Research group Unpacking Performativity #,
research on dance, performativity and public space

Contemporary dance needs to redefine its meaning, role and impact in society. Its constant urge to perform in a ‘new and innovative’ way has resulted, paradoxically, in routine instead of becoming a real happening, an event. How can we break this pattern? When we leave our locked-in environment of the stage and go for the street we come across other dance. Urban, hip-hop and popping all show different ideas of community, different processes of learning and different concepts of ‘event’. The ArtEZ research group Unpacking Performativity (UP#) enquires the various issues of dance, performativity and public space.

A cast of four researchers, who embody four different characters, collaborates for two years: Gaby Allard, Niels ‘Storm’ Robitzky, Bart van Rosmalen and Peter Sonderen (responsible professor). They foster a research approach in which the eventuality of doing, making and presenting for and with an audience is implied. We meet in two-day sessions that take place every two months and at different places, where we meet new audiences and where we exchange with partners. Our nomadic routes are titled UP#1, UP#2, UP#3 and so forth.


Gaby Allard was trained as a dancer at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. She then worked for fifteen seasons with the modern dance company Dance Works Rotterdam as a dancer, assistant artistic director and in various other functions. After serving for three years as coordinator of the Masters programme in choreography at Dance Unlimited, Codarts Rotterdam, among other positions, Allard was appointed Director of the ArtEZ School of Dance on 1 October 2006. Since 1 September 2010 she has also served as a board member of the Faculty of Theatre and Dance. Allard has seats on many boards and national advisory commissions * and has been chairman of the national network of dance academy directors since 1 January 2010.

In addition, Allard has spent the past few years conducting research on dance, both in the professional field and in dance education**. In 2002 Allard was awarded the prize of merit by the Dansersfonds ’79 Foundation for her versatile contribution to dance.

2009 –           President of  the Dutch Dancer’s Healthcare Foundation for Dancers (SGD)
2011 – 2012 Advisory Board of the Dutch Arts Council

2012 – 2014 “Performativity, Dance and Public Space”, research group Unpacking Performativity Peter Sonderen, ArtEZ
2011 – 2014 “Periodisation in Dance education” , Move(me)nt! ArtEZ School of Dance in collaboration with Matt Wyon, Wolverhampton University, Wolverhampton
2011 – 2012 “Gender Relation and Artistic Practice”, Internationally Mixed, Crossover /55/3 in collaboration with University of Music and Dance Cologne, Germany and Conversatorio Superior de Danza de Valencia, Spain
2005 – 2006 “Periodisation in an educational setting”. Expertise group Excellence and Well-being Anna Aalten, Codarts Rotterdam The Netherlands
2004 – 2005 “Injury Behaviour”. Expertise group Excellence and Wellbeing Anna Aalten, Codarts Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2001 – 2002 “Load and Overload for Dancers”, in collaboration with the professional dance practice, medicine and science in support of NOC NSF* (National Olympic Committee/ National Sport Federation)

Niels „Storm“ Robitzky is part of the European ‘Hip Hop Oldschool’. He started dancing in 1983 when first broadcasts about this urban culture changed his experience of reality in Germany. In the early nineties he became a relevant figure and developed his notoriety as a choreographer, when urban dance entered into theatres worldwide. Ever since he is travelling as a Hip Hop ambassador. He is creating and performing dance pieces, judging competitions, teaching the styles of Popping, Locking and Bboying and most of all he philosophizes on the subjects of urban art with his peers. From 1993 until 1995 he co-edited and co-hosted the Hip Hop Magazine “Freestyle” on the German music TV channel VIVA. From 1996 until 2000 he toured with his dance company “Storm and Jazzy Project”. In 2000 he published a book about the development of Bboying in Germany called “From Swipe to Storm”. In the year 2006 Storm choreographed the opening ceremony of the FIFA world cup. From 2001 till 2010 his main occupation was the creation of different theatre pieces. The most notorious ones are “Solo 4 two” in 2001, “The art of urban dance” in 2003 and “Geometronomics” in 2006. 

Peter Sonderen is, since 2008, professor of Theory in Art at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts (The Netherlands). Sonderen received his PhD, in 2000, at the University of Amsterdam for his doctoral thesis on the Dutch philosopher Frans Hemsterhuis and the origin of modern art. Sonderen is head of the research group Theory in Art that enquires the role of theory within the arts and art education. One of the research programs is Unpacking Performativity #. Sonderen recently edited Denken in kunst, Theorie en reflectie in het kunstonderwijs, Leiden University Press, 2012, a book on theory and reflection in art and art education in the Netherlands. From 2003 till 2008 he was director of the ArtEZ Academy of Art & Design in Enschede. He is also curator of The Non-Urban Garden, a project that enquires the role of artistic research of the garden of the twenty-first century in the non-urban context. Five visual artists are asked to enquire both the concept of the garden as a work of art and to make a design that will be executed.