The dance and movement practice Dynamic Expansion, created by Shannon Cooney dancer, choreographer and craniosacral practitioner, connects one to the physical phenomenon of the Craniosacral (C/S) system and explores it through movement via improvisational forms.

In the classes one is introduced to techniques to tune into their Craniosacral Rhythm (CRI). By sensing this profound rhythm it is possible to go directly and deeply into the practice of self-witnessing. The techniques taught incorporate natural, fully-physical, energetic, and subtle dance/movements that are guided into movement improvisations. As the work evolves, one’s capacity to remain wholly connected to this vital rhythm while expanding into varied dynamic states of presences is at the heart of the practice.

Dynamic Expansion offers many possible applications to one’s personal artistic/creative work practice including: a vibrant palette/range of movement qualities, joy in movement, fine-tuned visual field perception, enhanced depth of focus, heightened and subtle states of presence, refined self-perception skills, new systems of connecting with self others and, profound experiences in the sensorial field.


Shannon Cooney, Canadian choreographer, dancer/performer and dance educator based in Berlin, Germany since 2006, received a B.F.A honours/dance at York University, Toronto in 1992. Her choreography has been presented since 1993 in Canada, Europe the in the U.K. As a dancer she has performed in the works of numerous choreographers and she danced with Toronto-based Dancemakers (1994-2006), artistic director Serge Bennathan, which toured nationally and internationally. Shannon performed in installation works of Visual artists Marla Hlady (CA), Signe Theill (DE), and Heidi Sill (DE), and performed in numerous events of performance improvisations with musicians/performers and artists. She works as an artistic advisor and creative facilitator for directors and choreographers in dance and performance. 
Shannon created a dance method, Dynamic Expansion, which she teaches internationally for dance training centres, companies, universities and organizations. It is a practice combining her embodied knowledge in craniosacral therapy and contemporary dance. Her recent choreographic/performance projects include: Taste of Freedom (2016) every one everyone (2013), acoustic sightlines (2012), Assemblages (2011) and Spiral Pendulum: dance (2009).







How do we conceive of self and body? What scripts are at work? What role does our perception play? How does gender and identity perform itself at the perceptual level? How do these things implicate “other” and design they ways we relate to ourselves, each other and environment? What tools for transformation are available to disrupt patterns and make new ones? From Judith Butler’s theory of performativity, for example, we can take into account that gender is a stylization of the body that happens through ritual repetition of acts and within a regulatory frame that “over time produces the appearance of a natural sort of being” (33).

Parody and play, like drag performance, reveal the falsity of naturalness by creating a “copy of a copy,” and illuminating that there is no original.  In dance, however, we deal specifically with the materiality of the body, ritual repetition is the basis of training and we repeatedly confront (or in many cases ignore) the socially constructed attributes that are, Butler would argue, performed not expressed –in other words our characteristics don’t naturally emerge from an interior self. In my own practice, I take this to mean that my creative acts are not some expression of a true self, and that I don’t make performances intended to express a certain story, meaning, or feeling necessarily.  Instead, I am experimenting with sharing performative representations of socially constructed and maintained identities, relationships, and systems layered on and inside of my body, in relation to the bodies and objects around me.  

During this intensive we will use our individual and group body to make and unmake ourselves. Working with disorientation, quick shifts of attention, endurance and group dynamics, we will move away from language and towards embodied comprehension. We will push to the edges but also question “edge” as a boundary or distinction
between ourselves, others and the space we occupy. We will take this out of the studio, and research subtle and dynamic ways to shift the energy in spaces around us. We volley between performer and witness.
Is it a spiritual transformation? Is it subtle drag performance? Is it quietly radical?

In WDTBM, we use somatic exercises adapted to engage questions about how we construct our bodies and how they are constructed. Proposals are seeded from queer, feminist, and critical race theory that exemplify and disrupt the way identity is embodied. This work is supported through reading and discussion and through composing and decomposing performances.


Shannon Stewart is a choreographic artist who splits her time between New Orleans and Europe. Her company Screaming Traps explores the intersection of dance practices, embodied identities and social choreographies.  For Shannon, the body’s participation in everyday life, social systems, and how we know ourselves is an opportunity for choreographic research.  Simultaneously, the practice of dance rituals is a potential for untraining, retraining, making and unmaking. 

Shannon has interpreted the work of Joan Jonas, Deborah Hay and performed with tEEth, zoe | juniper, Kathleen Hermesdorf and many others.  Shannon has trained, taught, and performed internationally. Along with years of ballet, yoga, and somatic forms, she has studied gaga, Forsythe improvisation, Skinner Releasing and CounterTechnique intensively. Shannon is certified in four formats of Gyrokinesis® and is a Gyrotonic® Instructor and as a Teaching Artist with Dance for People with Parkinson’s Disease. She has taught in universities, festivals and contemporary dance centers in the United States, Canada and Europe.  She has a BA in Urban Design from the University of Washington and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Dance Performance from Tulane University.     



Photography: Maria Swecz, John Oswald, Diogo De Lima, Adam Sekuler