Marie Topp

About Marie Topp

Marie Topp is choreographer and dancer. She is choreographer in residence at K3 I Tanzplan Hamburg season 2014-2015. Since graduating from The Danish National School of Performing Arts in 2009 Topp has developed a solo-practice and created three works “The Everyday Practice of Resistance” (2012) and “Forerunnig” (2014) and The Visible Effects of Force (2015). Topp is a part of the Copenhagen-based choreographers collective RISK, and has been a teacher at DOCH, (University for Dance and circus in Stockholm) and AFUK in Copenhagen. Her works has amongst other places been performed at ICE HOT Nordic Danceplatform (FI), Kampnagel(De) Dansehallerne (DK) Volksroom (BE) Citylink Festival (De) Reykjavik Dancefestival (IS).

The Physical Body-The Energetic Body -reflections on choreographic practice

Credit: Danjel Andersson

Credit: Danjel Andersson


The Physical Body-The Energetic Body 

-reflections on choreographic practice

I just concluded a series of solo’s. A trilogy of works about the body exposed to different forces. The works are: The Visible Effects of Force (2015), Forerunning (2014) and The Everyday Practice of Resistance (2012). Slowly I’m moving out of creation-mode and into reflection-mode.

The process of making the trilogy expands over the period 2011-2015. This blog-post is an attempt to describe my journey. Alongside the performance-making I’ve dived into a process of understanding my artistic desire and the urgency in the work. Questions of working methods, creation process, taste and the importance and uncertainty of intuition has been processed while working on this trilogy.


Even though the working conditions was very different making these 3 works, the creation process has been almost the same. It’s characterized by a high degree of solitude: Spending time with myself in the studio, making working schedules for myself, making agreements with myself, trying to push myself. Deciding to post-pone work with myself, trying to challenge myself, being happy with myself,  asking myself whether the work is good? Doubting myself, judging myself, dreaming by myself,  looking at myself, filming myself -and taking notes while watching.  Performing for myself, being exhausted by myself, being inspired by myself. The solo process is a balance act on a thin line between narcism and self-hate.

I develop concept and material simultaneously. I start looking for material very early in the process based on vague ideas such as: “how is the body affected by force?” Then I look for for movement material that somehow embody these ideas. I film everything I do on my computer and watch it immediately -a dialog from being inside the work and observing it on a screen.

In the studio my process is slow, most of the time I do nothing.  Or maybe it’s more correct to say: most of the time it feels like I’m doing nothing. I spend a lot of time alone behind closed doors, thinking about the work and everything else. I wait for ideas.

Somebody who knows me and my work very well describes my process as trying to get ketchup out of the bottle, I try and try to force it out and nothing moves until suddenly it release and it’s all there, all over the plate. I think he’s right:

Sharing the solo process
When I reach this point in the process, I’m ready to invite other people into the studio. Collaborators, special people ( who know my work so well they can finish my sentences when I get lost in the concept), work-in-progress audiences and off course (not to forget in especially in this context): my collective RISK.

I try to share as much as possible in this phase. It’s a way of practicing the work. It helps me understand what should be done next. I invite people into the studio for feedback but also to help me find a deeper concentration while performing the movements. The kinesthetic exchange between the spectator and me is very important and I can only guess whether the matierial works or not, until I had the change to test it with other bodies present in space.

In this phase, my practice as a solo artist connects with the on-going dialogue with my collective. RISK becomes a contexts in which a can share and discuss my ideas with people that have followed my work closely from the very beginning. The collective work is not only the projects we do together, but also the commitment in each of  our individual projects. To share knowledge and resources.

The Trilogy
So, back to the performances: The Visible Effects of Force (2015), Forerunning (2014) and The Everyday Practice of Resistance (2012).

As mentioned earlier in this text, the foundation for all three works is a core of movement material.
Material that interests me contains two presences of the body: The Physical Body and The Energetic Body. The Physical Body I define as the body, as we immediately see it; the body we are able touch. It is the musculoskeletal system that can make positions in space, be virtuous and stimulating to watch in motion. The Energetic Body is energy systems and the intangible manifestation of emotions and states that visually and kinesthetically is affecting and changing the body. The interplay between these states of body creates multilayered material that at the same time contains lot’s of information and is very open. It is material that leaves space for the spectator’s imagination to unfold and work with the performance.

The three solo works are connected by the interest in the body exposed to forces. My understanding of the concept of force has expanded in line with the development of these works and simultaneously with my interest in the energy-based approach to the body has increased. Since The Everyday Practice of Resistance it has moved from understanding force as forces of nature (such as gravity) to The Visible Effects of Force where the notion of force is understood both as forces of nature, but also mental forces like emotions. I consider interpretation as a force and each member of the audiences gaze as a force that affects and in the meeting with the force of the work, creates meaning.

Collaborators for this trilogy is sound artist Julia Giertz (Forerunning and The Visible Effects of Force) and light designer Mårten K Axelsson (The Visible Effects of Force)


Credit: Andreas Bergmann Steen

The Performances
When I started working in 2011 I did not know that I was embarking on a trilogy. The Everyday Practice of Resistance is my first work, the outline for it was made doing a short mentoring program in Dansehallerne. 10 intense days where the work was sketched up. Later when I got opportunities to perform it, I reworked it and it ended up as a 17 min performance. The Everyday Practice of Resistance is a work that examines the body’s perception of force and the relationship between impact and resonance. The moving body recasts and restores the space, it creates centers of force, waves of resonance, distance and proximity.

Developing The Everyday Practice of Resistance, created a desire to further unfold and discover the possibilities and potential in a solo practice. The set- up for this piece was very simple: no music, no changes of light. The approach was very concrete, the moving body in space was creating the work. The choreography was structured as series of movement separated by pauses. The simplicity of the proposal confirmed the fact that the choreography in itself, had an artistic potential. During this process I became interested in transformations and body states, and based on this the idea for Forerunning emerged.


Credit: Danjel Andersson

Forerunning is a concept that means to go before or indicate the coming of. I use the concept to explain the activation of the body that exists between movements. The state that occurs before the tangible movement. This performance researches the movement between action and non-action and the physical state that it produces: readiness. With this piece I try to transfer the state of readiness to the bodies of the audience. I do this through a movement material made with the purpose to build up tension and the task to never release it, but instead transform the body into new forms. The choreography is structured in a way that it creates an uncertainty. Confirmed contracts with the audiences is broken with the purpose of creating the feeling that anything can happen. Confirmation of expectation is release, and this piece has a rule not to release. The audience will hopefully leave the theatre with a small irritation in their body. That something (whatever they imagine this something to be) did not happened. But it existed in their fantasy and therefore also in the piece.
I worked on Forerunning over a long time-span of 2 years. Attempts for finance the work was rejected, so instead I worked on it in shorter periods whenever there was an option to perform or a short residency opportunity. I worked on it for max 1- 2 weeks at the time. Each of these occasions offered different possibilities to work on the piece, and demanded that the piece was adaptable for the working conditions and not opposite. With Forerunning I started my collaboration with sound artist Julia Giertz. We share a common interest in the field kinesthetic perception, how audience sense movement, trough and with the body. In our collaboration we consider sound in it’s physical form; vibrations and movements. We consider the material of the sound and the material of the body as equally important movements in the choreography and we try to use the same language to describe and name it.
Credit: Anja Beutler

Credit: Anja Beutler

The Visible Effects of Force is the last part. This piece was my residency- project at K3 I Tanzplan Hamburg, which means a time-span of seven months to work. With this work I decided to return to some of the themes introduced in the prior pieces, that I felt that I never emptied out and where I felt it was possible for me to go deeper. Where Forerunning is a work concerned with building expectation and the time-space before something happens, The Visible Effects of Force is focused on what follows; the effect.
The Visible Effects of Force explores what remains in the body after the impact.  A tense, slowly transforming body surrounded by four table ventilators that are placed on the white floor and creates and space in constant motion. 16 pairs of lamps in a precise circle. The intensity of the light rise and fall, as waves of light and shadows that transform the space constantly. The sounds are surrounding the audience, moves their bodies. The impacts of forces are inevitable and constant. Everybody is set in motion, everything is affected. At the same time, the force itself is never visible. It is the signs, traces and remains of it, that produce visible marks, from which we draw conclusions and imagine the force behind it.

The performance is based on a movement practice where high muscle tension, creates a movement material in which the body is constantly transformed and and moved in different directions. I did some serious work-out to make my body ready for this piece. Basic muscle-building work out every day in for months in order to be able to be relaxed while moving this way for a long time. The movement practice embodies the concept of piece; the impact of force on the body is visible.

In this piece I continued my collaboration with Julia Giertz and also invited light designer Mårten K Axelsson. I asked them to do the same in their respective element; to make the impact of force visible in light and sound. I wanted to make a performance where movement, light and sound where juxtaposed, and to do that I needed the concept to be present in each element.
I was very happy with their proposals, which was radical but super sensitive to my work. With this project we had a short intensive time together. They each came to Hamburg a couple of days for workshops during the residency, but it was only 10 days before premiere the three of us was together in the space. I feel that there is great potential in this collaboration. I’m curious where it will take us in the future.


credit: Anja Beutler

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