A somatic encounter of zoo policy, research material and genesis myths.

“A great deal is at stake in such meetings, and outcomes are not guaranteed. There is no assured happy or unhappy ending — socially, ecologically, or scientifically. There is only the chance for getting on together with some grace.”

– Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (2008) 

Starting point of this work is a visit at the SenseLab (Montréal) and a research in the zoo of Louisville with the primatologist Dawn Prince-Hughes on the communication between humans and gorillas. On the basis of their field recordings and the experiences they have gathered, Miriam Jakob and Felix Classen test a new choreographic experimental arrangement. The myth of mimetic imitation, the interplay of difference and indistinguishability as well as the common use of technology are made sensory perceptible.

Inspired by her somatic research on interspecies communication, Miriam Jakob explores the paradoxical conditions of encounters between great apes and humans in captivity: The glass wall that separates one from the other, but simultaneously allows for proximity, exchange and playfulness. By interweaving fictional as well as experienced, “real”, encounters between gorillas and humans, which manifest themselves both in zoological gardens and in millennia of ancient myths, she activates different strategies of exchange and bend the boundaries of fixed constructs to test out a choreography of the in-between. Due to the fact that the “natural habitat” is steadily disappearing, Miriam investigates what it means for the place of encounter to be increasingly restricted to places of confinement. 

A production by Miriam Jakob in co-production with tanzfabrik Berlin, February 2019

With the support of DAS graduate school, Academy of Theatre and Dance, Amsterdam University of the Arts & AHK Internationalisation Fund 


concept: Miriam Jakob, Felix Classen | participation: Dawn Prince-Hughes | Choreography, Performance: Miriam Jakob | Sound: Felix Classen | Dramaturgy: Maja Zimmermann | Thanks to: Demba & Jelani from the Zoo of Louisville