Steve Valk


April 17, 2017 to April 19, 2017

Cultural activist, contemporary dance dramaturge and director of the Institute of Social Choreography in Frankfurt, Germany

Steve Valk (1962) is a cultural activist, contemporary dance dramaturge and director of the Institute of Social Choreography in Frankfurt, Germany.  His visit at Duke includes:

  • Master class in Michael Klien’s “Dancing States of Mind” class, Monday April 17th from 1:25 – 4:25pm in the Hull Dance Studio. This class is open to all Duke students with all levels of performance interests. 
  • Teach / lead discussion in Tyler Walters’ Advanced-Intermediate Ballet class, Tuesday April 18th from 11:45am – 1:15pm in the Ark Dance Studio.
  • Teach / lead a discussion in Barbara Dickinson’s Dance Composition I class, Tuesday April 18th from 3:05 – 4:20pm in Ark Dance Studio. 
  • Teach / lead a discussion in Julie Janus Walter’s Advanced Ballet class, Wednesday April 19th from 10:05 – 11:20am in the Ark Dance Studio. 

For twelve years (1992-2004), he was Head Dramaturge and creative collaborator for William Forsythe and Ballett Frankfurt. During this period his groundbreaking visual, installational and performative dramaturgy informed Forsythe`s seminal choreographic works. From 1998 to 2004 Valk`s dramaturgical focus on trans-disciplinary networking led to the development of new participatory situations for the institution of contemporary dance. The resulting large-scale projects "Schmalclub"  (1999-2002) and "New Meaningful Public Space"  (2003-2004) are now recognized as seminal works in the emerging field of Social Choreography. 

In 2007 he founded the international dramaturgical and social choreographic design agency „r.i.c.e.“ (radical institute of cybernetic epistemology) with headquarters in Limerick, Ireland, Helsinki Finland and Frankfurt Germany.

From 2004-2011 Valk became Head Dramaturge and artistic collaborator of Ireland`s Daghdha Dance Company (Artistic Director – Michael Kliën). Through rigorously reexamining the core principles of contemporary cultural practice, Daghdha became one of Europe‘s most progressive arts organizations, “a complex and living ecology, one which conceptually transcended and extended far beyond the boundaries of its formally prescribed institutional structures”. 

During this same period Valk founded the social choreographic design agency „r.i.c.e.“ (radical institute of cybernetic epistemology) in Frankfurt.  Over the course of nearly 100 projects r.i.c.e collaborated with Frankfurter Verein für soziale Heimstaätten, the city`s largest social service provider. The objective was to develop new cultural formats, which would deliberately blur the lines between the mainstream and marginalized citizenry. The cultural strategy at the heart of this 7-year project was to establish a permanent interactive "terrain" between the design and performing arts and the larger citywide network of Social Service providers.  r.i.c.e focused on fostering sustainable infrastructures and modes of creative and cultural practice (understanding) between Art and Design Colleges and Universities (through permanent changes in curriculum) and the Frankfurt Social Services.

In December 2012, in collaboration with a network of local, regional, and international trans-disciplinary theorists, cultural practitioners, civic partners, and friends, Steve Valk founded the first Institute of Social Choreography in Frankfurt Germany.


The Institute of Social Choreography specialises in deep dramaturgical research, the development of new cultural formats and collaborative networks and the practice of social choreography as a set of methods for discovering and manifesting alternative patterns in the ecology of our collective experience. 

Project partners range from social service organisations of all kinds, religious institutions, schools, foundations and universities to creative agencies, the Occupy movement, local and international cultural initiatives, museums, dance departments and government agencies. Its aim is to integrate experiential knowledge attained in the arts into all aspects of civic and cultural life. The Institute of Social Choreography aims to open new political dimensions of aesthetic practice, not through the representation of ideologies, but by creating the conditions for original social relations to arise directly out of choreographic practice. Performative experimentation is its central methodological principle.