News at the HZT Berlin

News 2023


Choreographer and performer Claire Cunningham to become Einstein Professor for „Choreography, Dance and Disability Arts“ at the Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin (HZT)

Scottish choreographer and performer Claire Cunningham is to become the Einstein Professor of „Choreography, Dance and Disability Arts“ at the Inter-University Centre for Dance (HZT) from the winter semester 2023/24. As part of her professorship, Claire Cunningham will teach and research at the HZT for an initial five years. She is the first artist to receive an Einstein Strategic Professorship. In Berlin the internationally renowned artist will contribute and further develop her focus on the „Choreography of Care“, among other research areas.

Cunningham uses and misuses her crutches as an extension of her dancing body, and the „Choreography of Care“ is an artistic response to questions arising from her critical reflection on normativity. As Cunningham explains, this is about „practices of attention and observation, informed by the lived experience of disability and by crip, queer and feminist thinking“. 

Claire Cunningham‘s work at the HZT also involves the centre’s two supporting universities, the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK Berlin) and the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts (HfS Ernst Busch), with the aim of developing inter- and transdisciplinary projects whose inclusive approach can be shared by other artistic degree programmes. As part of her Einstein Strategic Professorship, Claire Cunningham
will also collaborate with colleagues from other Berlin universities and cultural institutions.

 „The opportunity to share the work, techniques and practices of disabled dance artists and choreographers with students, to place these lines in a prestigious European dance and arts institution and to support the education of disabled dancers and choreographers is a tremendously exciting task for me. I am looking forward to deepening my own research in a new constellation of colleagues and students in Berlin. In previous encounters with the HZT students, I have found their curiosity and desire to engage and learn beyond the studio to be truly encouraging, and their proactive approach to learning from a variety of experiences sets them apart from students I have met elsewhere“, the choreographer comments.

Prof. Nik Haffner, Artistic Director of the HZT, adds: „The appointment of choreographer Claire Cunningham as Einstein Strategic Professor is a milestone for Berlin, both for the dance scene and for the research and university landscape; also because Claire Cunningham always sees her art as an exploration of social
issues and as activism. The Einstein Strategic Professorship was able to emerge from the foundation built by the Berlin network ‚Making a Difference‘, which has been promoting the independent work of disabled, d/Deaf and chronically ill artists in dance since 2018; the HZT has been one of the eight founding organisations of this network“.

The directors of the HZT’s two supporting universities also see the appointment as an outstanding contribution towards situating Berlin as a centre of  artistic research and international cooperation for art and science.

Prof. Dr. Norbert Palz, President of the UdK Berlin: „Claire Cunningham‘s appointment to the Einstein Strategic Professorship expands the artistic and scientific profile of the HZT to a relevant degree. Her interdisciplinary profile offers interesting institutional networking opportunities between the arts and sciences with a great radiance beyond Berlin.

Dr. Anna Luise Kiss, Rector of the HfS Ernst Busch: „A lot has happened in terms of inclusion in the arts education at Berlin‘s four artistic universities. The Einstein Strategic Professorship in ‚Choreography, Dance and Disability Arts‘ is an ideal continuation of this development. The opportunity to experience Claire Cunningham’s work and to be able to learn from and collaborate with her is a great motivation and enrichment that will have an impact far beyond the HZT and its supporting universities, elevating Berlin as a location for artistic education and research“.

With the Strategic Professorships, the Einstein Foundation Berlin supports the appointment of top researchers from abroad who are of outstanding strategic importance for Berlin as a centre of science and research. For the first time, the Foundation is awarding the Einstein Strategic Professorship to an arts university. „Claire Cunningham‘s willingness to come to Berlin is a distinction for our city, and we are pleased that we as the Einstein Foundation have been able to make a contribution“, says Chairman of the Board Prof. Martin Rennert.

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Claudia Assmann
Head of the Press & Communications
Berlin University of the Arts


May saw the release of Breathe - Critical Research into the Inequalities of Life, the first volume of Corporeal Matters, a publication series on arts-based research, in particular practices and concepts that place the body at the core. It illuminates how the body appears simultaneously as witness, document, and agent in contemporary life, and offers insights into corporeality as the often neglected dimension that cuts through ethics, aesthetics, and politics. The series hosts edited volumes, authored publications, workbooks and other formats from multiple perspectives and fields of practice, grounded in moments of research, encounter and debate, generated in the context of the HZT-Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin. The series is edited by Sandra Noeth, Sandra Umathum, Janez Jansa.


For Berlin's universities, very important decisions are pending in the first half of 2023 with the university contract negotiations. This concerns not least the HZT Berlin with its approximately 80 students in the field of contemporary dance, choreography and performance - it needs courageous political steps and a substantial structural strengthening to be able to lead the internationally recognized Berlin success model HZT further and into the future. With the journal Dance, Research, Future. HZT for Berlin, the HZT has published a newspaper which you can conveniently read online here and get comprehensive information about the further actions in the year.