The development and implementation of innovative teaching and learning strategies for a contemporary, practice-based study in dance

The research project, InnolernenTanz (ILT) was carried out at the Palucca University of Dance Dresden from 2012-2016. It was financed through a grant of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the auspices of the program for improved student conditions and quality in teaching. (Programm für bessere Studienbedingungen und mehr Qualität in der Lehre). Directing the project was Professor Jason Beechey, Rector of the Palucca University of Dance Dresden; initiators and leaders of the research domains were members of the institution’s faculty, Professors Jenny Coogan (Somatics) and José Biondi (Coaching).

 The research focused on developing and testing selected teaching and learning methods to support young dance artists in developing their own individual learning strategies to more fully access their potential. The teaching and learning methods: Coaching and Somatics comprised the core of the research. In addition measures for improving the conditions for learning at the institution were undertaken and in part implemented.  

The inquiry of both research domains were positioned within the inherently group oriented teaching and learning processes of with dance;  they were investigated from different perspectives. Coaching developed a concept for individual feedback within the group structure; Somatics explored conditions that encouraged self-directed, self-generated and reflective practice within the context of group learning.

 “Individual coaching and interactive feedback in group teaching in dance” (Coaching): This research domain focused on developing a concept for coaching using a highly individualized system of categories that offers supportive feedback for the individual dancers in particular when working with complex movement sequences.

“Somatically oriented pedagogical research in dance education (Somatics): This research domain investigated and tested teaching and learning methods, with particular emphasis on the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education, in supporting dancers’ develop personal agency and a self-reflective and self-regulatory practice.

Further measures for improving the conditions for learning at the institution included:

  • Analysing the existing pedagogical  frameworks
  • Optimizing communication between faculty, staff and students
  • Developing models that support reflective and critically constructive communication
  •  Developing  evaluative instruments for quality control
  • Providing workshops and seminars for students with guest artists and scholars
  • Engaging in interdisciplinary cooperation projects with partner institution
  • Offering continuing education for faculty and staff


The results of the five years of research are now available in two publications. Both books have been published in the German and English languages by the Logos Verlag Berlin.


In the book, “Practicing Dance: A Somatic OrientationJenny Coogan opens a forum in which she and guest authors consider questions such as: How are the parameters crucial to the understanding of contemporary dance, such as personal agency, embodied? How does the German system of dance education foster such parameters? How can somatic approaches contribute to encouraging dancers to experience their education from a first-person perspective of authority with enhanced self-reliance, self-reflection, and social consciousness? The volume includes accounts of field research, essays and interviews, as well as suggestions for studio practice that demonstrate the synergy between contemporary dance and the Feldenkrais Method. The range of perspectives offered invites critical reflections on methods to support young dancer artists in embracing the twenty-first century challenges of professional performing careers.

Jenny Coogan (Ed.), “Practicing Dance: A Somatic Orientation”, Logos Verlag Berlin, ISBN 978-3-8325-4213-9)


In the book: “The iCiF Model: Individual Coaching and Interactive Feedback in Dance Education,” José Biondi has developed a coaching model that best supports the individual development of students for group lessons in dance. On the basis of a specifically developed category system, this model combines individual coaching and interactive feedback into a teaching method that motivates students to critically and reflectively deal with their own development possibilities. The book illustrates the development, basic principles and evaluation of the coaching model. Worksheet templates allow for a direct application of the iCiF model in the dance class.

José Biondi (Ed.), “The iCiF Model: Individual Coaching and Interactive Feedback in Dance Education,” Logos Verlag Berlin, ISBN 978-3-8325-4220-7

Further information

Website of InnoLernenTanz