Please note that the video and photographic materials are for insight into Tilman O'Donnell's previous works and does not demonstrate what will be explored in this workshop.


On Stillness & Action: The Still Act(ing)

June 3 to 7 | 9:30am to 1:00pm

Place: Édifice Wilder | École de danse contemporaine de Montréal

Studio: TBC

Rate: DAC members - $179 | Visiting pro - $203 | Standard - $239 (taxes not included)

*This workshop is reimbursable (40% of the total cost) through the RQD Dancer Training Support Program for admissible RQD members.

**Do not register for this workshop if you cannot attend the entirety of the above mentioned schedule.

Workshop description:

On Stillness & Action: The Still Act(ing)

Our physical, psychological, and cultural habits are deeply intertwined. The past is encoded in the present. Aesthetic acts pass through the internalized concepts we begin to call home, and shape our present future. Using Zazen meditation practices and teachings for the mind, as well as contemporary dance technique and theory, we'll explore how awakening and creativity can be expressed in and through the body. We will look more deeply at the  roots of our collective aesthetic preferences, how they shape perception and pre- choreograph action.


In stillness, we will consider how traditional Zen meditation techniques might offer insight into contemporary movement processes and, more broadly, procedures of making art. In movement, we will translate these ancient teachings into contemporary sense-based exercises, koans to be unfolded somatically. Each class will include sitting/walking meditation, discussion, and movement practices.



1. To integrate stillness and a dynamic movement practice

2. To cultivate a sensory awareness below a particular technique or style to which we are hinged

3. An introduction to Zen meditation & theory, as well as contemporary performance theory & technique

4. To unpack the physical and psychodynamic anatomies that impede immediate responsiveness to stimuli

5. To discuss the broader ethical implications surrounding the social ritual of making performances in groups



Tilman O'Donnell was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a German mother and American father. He trained at the National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada and joined The Göteborg Danskompani under the direction of Anders Hellström. In 2002 Tilman worked at the Staatstheater Saarbrücken. Thereafter he joined the Cullberg Ballet from 2003 until 2007. Tilman was a member of The Forsythe Company in Frankfurt from 2007-2012 and a guest artist until 2015. Tilman worked as rehearsal director for the Goteborgs Operans Danskompani in 2014.


Tilman made his debut as a choreographer in 2002 and has been awarded first prize in two international choreographic competitions. In 2005 he was appointed both 'Dancer To Watch" and "Choreographer To Watch" by the leading European magazine Ballet Tanz. In 2011 he created two site-specific works for Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm. In 2012 he created the piece August did not have what is commonly considered good taste as far as furniture is concerned... He has also created works for Spira Jönköping under the banner Cullberg To Come (Word of Mouth) and a piece for Staatstheater Graz.


In 2014, Tilman was invited to be artist in residence together with Cyril Baldy at Centre Choregraphique Circuit-Est / Goethe Institut Montreal. In 2015 he created the solo Whatever Singularity #453: Solo For Maxime / Dancing With Alain for the Göteborgs Operans Danskompani, and toured the work to the Nordwind Festival in autumn 2015. A work for full dancer orchestra , entitled In LIfe & Love & So On, premiered in October 2015 at The Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen. Shortly thereafter, he created These & Those & Upon Us (with Cyril Baldy) for the University of Dance, Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition, he created In Some Sense (with guitarist Mikkel Ploug), premiered at Jazz Days in Koge, Denmark and was later expanded to be presented in 2018 at Bora Bora, Âhus, Sweden. Tilman returned to Montreal with Cyril Baldy in 2016 to create the site specific piece Whateverness Singularities in collaboration with Montreal based artists Hanako Hoshimi-Caines, Dana Michel, Adam Kinner, and Jacob Wren. His next project History Was Written By The Loosers, is a collaboration with David Kern, and is slated to open in the winter of 2019.


In addition, Tilman teaches workshops internationally and is a member of the artist platform HOOD, a long term collaborative format supported by PACT Zollverein in Essen, Germany.


In 2015, he was named Hoffnungsträger  by the prominent European dance journal Tanz.


“The ‘still-act’ is a concept proposed by anthropologist Nadia Seremetakis to describe moments when a subject interrupts historical flow and practices historical interrogation. Thus, while the still- act does not entail rigidity or morbidity it requires a performance of suspension, a corporeally based interruption of modes of imposing flow. The still acts because it interrogates economies of time, because it reveals the possibility of one’s agency within controlling regimes of capital, subjectively, labor, and mobility. Stillness is the moment when the buried, the discarded, and the forgotten escape to the social surface of awareness like life supporting oxygen. It is the moment of exit from historical dust.”


- Nadia Seremetakis, from the essay The Political Ontology of Movement by Andre Lepecki


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