Karin Hermes - Contemporary dance

Re-interpreting Dance Heritage. Between Choreographic Practice and Notation Theory

 In the course of postmodern dance forms, artistic dance experienced diverse and dynamic expressions. Dance artists such as Kurt Jooss (1901-1979) and Sigurd Leeder (1902-1981) are representative of the departure into modernity, for they created links between work and person, between choreography and pedagogy, between analysis and creativity, between dance practice and theory. The confrontation with their works challenges us to face the questions of their interpretation from today's perspective and to include praxeological methods. The latter reflect an understanding of dance and performance that conceptually integrates the diversity of different interpretive approaches. For choreographies from other epochs, cultures or training conditionings confront us with questions of freedom of interpretation and open up creative scope.

I am investigating these questions in my artistic research. In the first part of my research project, I deal with the dance score Danse macabre (1935), choreography by Sigurd Leeder. In dialogue with this dance score, I choreograph Fünf Versuche des Tanzes mit dem Tod (Five Attempts to Dance with Death). I then notate my choreography using Laban's kinetography, incorporating digital notation options.

Aussen eins, innen unzählig. Der Granatapfel und die Transformation (One on the outside, countless on the inside. The Pomegranate and Transformation) is the working title of the second part of my artistic research. Here I focus on different notations of Pavane auf den Tod einer Infantin (1929), choreography by Kurt Jooss. My guiding question is: What liberties and spaces do I claim when notation signs are transferred into dance re-interpretation and this presupposes that the current context is integrated?

First supervisor: Prof.in Rose Breuss, ABPU;
Second supervisor: Dr.in Annette Kappeler, Hochschule der Künste Bern


Karin Hermes grew up in Zurich and graduated from the Zurich Ballet Academy (director: Herta Bamert). She worked as a stage dancer at the Staatstheater Stuttgart, Schauspielhaus Zurich and in independent ensembles. After years of professional dance work, Karin studied dance pedagogy at the Institute for Stage Dance at the Cologne University of Music, later continuing her studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and completing the Cycle de perfectionnement in movement analysis and notation (Laban system), specialising in reconstruction, with distinction. Since then, Karin Hermes has been researching the intersections between dance practice and theory and has been exploring methods of interpreting historical dance works, among ithers at The Place in London, Ballet du Rhin, Cité de la Musique Paris and Centre National de la Danse (CND) in Pantin, Paris. Her choreography Betwixt and Between, dialogue with Rooms by Anna Sokolow premiered at CND in 2008 and was recorded in the film Tanzrebellen by Ralph Ströhle for ARTE. From 2011-2015 she chaired the Research Panel of the International Council of Kinetography Laban.

In 2007 Karin Hermes founded her ensemble hermesdance and performed in France, England, Brazil, Israel, Germany and Switzerland. She has always been committed to dance education and has realised countless projects with children and young people. She has been a member of the Pestalozzi School Camps team since 2022. 

Karin Hermes received the Canton of Bern's Cultural Education Award in 2017 and was awarded two Swiss Dance Prizes, Cultural Heritage Dance, in 2015 and 2019. She is currently co-director of hermesdance, lecturer at the Bern University of the Arts for dance practice, theory, work analysis, specialised didactics and dance mediator at the Bern Ballet of the Bühnen Bern.