D.R. Gruber

SPEECHLESS - A Dance Experiment featuring Annika KompArt

Public Performance, at Badteatret, Copenhagen - January 2019
a discussion on the politics of sound w/ Annika KompArt & Dr. David R. Gruber, University of Copenhagen


The project is an experiment in embodying language. Dancers offer another means of access to political speeches. They express the sensual sounds and rhythms of the speech, helping us to see and feel the underlying sense of care, desperation, or urgency communicated by the vocalizations of the speaker.

— Annika KompArt dances in an experimental and reactive way to political speeches, obscuring the words to hear only the sounds and the rhythms. She then brings in other dancers, comparing their reactions, looking at the dynamic of different bodies moving to known and unknown political speakers from both the dancers' home countries and abroad.

— As guest participant, my role was threefold. First, I visited the dance studio to meet with Annika, and I participated in dancing to a speech by Angela Merkel. This helped me to feel/sense/explore what Annika wanted to achieve. Trying out body movements to speeches helped me to better understand the work but also allowed Annika to learn how I would move and physically respond to the speech. Speechless, Dance Experiment
image credit: 'Comparing the change of dynamics - Documenting the different sessions by filming the dancers moving to their native - as well as foreign language.' By Johan Ask Pepe, addedtit by Olivia Brophy, as well as taking moving pictures by Jesper Haller.

— Second, as guest, my role was to offer a critical reflection on the finished piece. My thoughts are embedded in the documentation of the project, available here.

— Finally, I attended the opening in Copenhagen at Badteatret Copenhagen and engaged in dialogue with the dancers about the project, offering thoughts from the perspective of a rhetorical critic who studies materiality in politics and the role of the body in the humanities.

"...In dance, we discover another means to evaluate a speech. We find another way to access its emotional import and can produce a more holistic account for why we feel persuaded by it." -Gruber

Contact: Dr. David R. Gruber, University of Copenhagen. d.gruber - at - hum.ku.dk