The Agency of Suboptimization

For a year, I joined several classes and individual sessions offered by various experts for „getting better”. I wanted to inform myself about myself from their perspectives. My journey led me to discoveries oscillating between optimization and oppression. Through bodily experiences and biographical recollections I had to face social and cultural influences, traces, roots and interferences. The audio-performance installation “The Agency of Suboptimization” will offer its services in Studio 11 at Quartier am Hafen. Please make a reservation and get better.

when: 19th, 20th, 21th of December between 10:00-14:00
at: Quartier am Hafen (Studio 11)
Address: Poller Kirchweg 78-90, 51105 Köln

Performance, text, choreography, concept: Özlem Alkis
Dramaturgical collaboration: Constanze Schellow

This project is supported in the frame of “Körperoptimierungsexperten – Körperwissen” Research Project by SK Stiftung Kultur der Sparkasse KölnBonn

wir wollen verschwinden

We are expected to be identifiable, public and available. Yet at the same time, we want to disappear, disappear into the flora and fauna inhabiting the wild landscape of our material and immaterial identities, diving into collective consciousness. The boundaries between bodies and space, the individual and society, present and past dissolve.
“Wir wollen verschwinden” aims to make a physical form of communication productive that relies on intense, intimate contact, on touch, connection, breathing and the mass of bodies. The performance experiments with perception and asks, among other things: What is showing, and what do we recognise as being true? Is it possible to see without ascribing meaning to the things we saw? What comes into view when the performers onstage become invisible? The spectators vanish into their own bodies, into the collective body. Vanish in order to reappear anew and differently.
MichaelDouglas Kollektiv has been collaborating with choreographer Özlem Alkis and artist Jared Gradinger for their current production. Together with the collective Özlem Alkis further developed her work on camouflage techniques, while Jared Gradinger, as a pivotal part of the production process, hypnotised the performers.

Artistic Direction: MichaelDouglas Kollektiv; Choreography: Özlem Alkis; Consulting: Jared Gradinger (Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapeut); Dance: Douglas Bateman, Susanne Grau, Michael Maurissens, Sabina Perry, Adam Ster; Music: Tian Rotteveel; Dramaturgy: Lucie Ortmann; Production: Jari Ortwig; Technical Direction: Michael Blattmann; PR/Communication: Jessica Otten; Productionsassistent: Nikos Konstantakis; Intern: Maria Mercedes Flores. Fotos: Almut Elhardt.

Production of MichaelDouglas Kollektiv, co-produced by tanzhaus nrw. Financial support of Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes NRW and Kunststiftung NRW. Supported by ehrenfeldstudios and Quartier am Hafen. MichaelDouglas Kollektiv is supported by Stadt Köln.


13 women meet. But what does that actually mean: meeting each other? Encounters move us. We move each other. But when do isolated movements become a ‘movement’, also in the political sense, when do randomly meeting people become a group? And what holds them together – above all the trust in commonalities, in what unites us? Or is it precisely what moves us in the experience of differences?

The Turkish-born choreographer Özlem Alkis, who has lived and worked in Germany for 7 years, found her performers through a flyer that she distributed at various locations in Cologne. Her appeal to non-professional dancers from different cultural and national backgrounds was more than an invitation to rehearse an existing piece. Alkis’ choreography “Reverbs” (2017) was only an occasion for her to bring together and hold together a group of people who do not know each other.

The joint work of the women with German, Turkish, Iranian and Greek backgrounds was not limited to rehearsals. They also attended dance performances and talked about their impressions. Özlem Alkis describes what gradually came into being as a space to get involved with each other through dance, to negotiate things with each other, as a “tuning in”: “We have experienced what is one of my questions in “Reverbs”: What holds us together? And how resilient or fleeting are the common ‘rhythms’ that create a group, a community or a society from a collection of individuals? How do we find our place among many in the same space?”

“Reverbs_feiern” is for another reason more than the reenactment of “Reverbs” or an intercultural exchange project. Not only did the choreography enable the dancers to have new ways of experiencing the body – the encounter with them also changed Alkis’ choreography. The sometimes strong and collective, sometimes tender and personal, vibrating and breathy, connecting and disintegrating rhythms of “Reverbs – Celebrate”, which today open themselves to an audience, breathe, stomp, grope, swing differently than before.




A dance creates movement, creates rhythm, creates wind: Through the “Reverbs’” echo, choreographer Özlem Alkis molds a moving sculpture, a sound installation or a dance continuing in the audience’s bodies. While three performers in constantly changing constellations circle the space and the audience, a pull emerges, a pull that, meticulously timed, blurs sensual boundaries. A temporary community unfolds, and in it, knowledge immediately permeates the senses – the floor’s vibration, the humming air, the dizzying repetition. Özlem Alkis’ choreographies, in which bodies, sounds, movement and materials grow together to form complex sculptures, are refreshingly clear and yet leave the audience in uncertainty.

Concept, Project Direction, Choreography: Özlem Alkis

in Collaboration with(dancers): Jennifer Döring, Philine Herrlein, Clara-Marie Müller

Supported by: Kulturamt der Stadt Köln, Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein Westfalen


Our initial point is a video of a man playing with his dog in a park. The video is a very rough handy-cam video that is filmed from far away in a flat park-ground in Cologne. What caught our interest about it was the level of abstraction that was reached by the distance the video was filmed. The movements of the owner and the dog become a kind of dance through the perspective of the camera.

Now, we reenact: We zoom into a simple scene of dance and examine it.

in loop 20 min.


with and by: Özlem Alkis and Neele Hülcker

Co-produced and presented by Akademie der Künste in Berlin


Dust Devil

Dust Devil is a type of a light whirling wind; a natural phenomenon that in some cultures it is also associated with the spirits of the dead.

How could an image, myth, a natural phenomenon, physics transmits into a dance?

Alkis examines a weather phenomenon based on bodily explorations. Images and sounds, silence and movement arise from and with the dancers’ bodies. They are at the same time wind and leaves, storm showers and wood creaking, roaring waves, howling spirits and cloud machines. They breathe, blow, suck, roar, sing and dance the natural phenomena. With the voice score of Rafael Nassif,  movement and sound merge to one another, it creates a visual and acoustic landscapes.

45 min.

Concept, Project Direction, Choreography: Özlem Alkis

in Collaboration with(dancers): Jennifer Döring, Susanne Schneider, Karoline Strys

Musical Concept/Musical Direction: Rafael Nassif

Mentor: Katarina Kleinschmidt

Photos: Ursula Kaufmann

“Dust Devil” is premiered in the frame of Borderlands Project of NovaTanz.

supported by: Kulturamt der Stadt Köln, Kunststiftung NRW, Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein Westfalen, Tanzfaktur
Dust Devil research process is supported by: SK Stiftung Kultur, European Network-Studiotrade, Sprungbrett – tanz nrw ’15, Akademie der Künste Berlin