Ana Sánchez-Colberg

Ana Sánchez-Colberg is a Puerto Rican choreographer and dancer based in Europe. She is a choreographer of dance-theatre. She has been awarded a Fellowship by the Swedish Research Council. She has also been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Award in 2016 amongst others awards and recognitions.

Career and Activities

Sánchez-Colberg trained in classical ballet in her native Puerto Rico before turning to contemporary dance. Under the tutelage of Helmut Gottschild (an assistant dancer to Mary Wigman in Berlin until 1969) she trained in Wigman, Kurt Jooss and Tanztheater techniques. During this time Sanchez-Colberg was a member of the Terry Beck Troupe, a Philadelphia -based dance company and Movement Co-ordinator for Intuitions, a physical theatre company. During this period she began to create her first works. She was a finalist in the USA Choreographic competitions ACDFA performing the duet Lullabyes at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC. The Washington Post described the work as "a gem, demonstrating a creative spark of a higher order". In 1986, under the auspices of a fellowship from the Institute of Culture of Puerto Rico, she moved to England to pursue further dance training. She completed a PhD programme at the Laban Centre London in 1992.

Sánchez-Colberg established Theatre enCorps in 1989. The debut choreographic work Alice, Alice, Alice...Are You A Child or a Tee totter (1989–1990), was performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as a site-specific work at Newcastle Arts Centre, West Greenwich House and in Spring Loaded at The Place Theatre, London in 1990. One review described the work as "imaginative and bold...trenchantly performed" (Time Out,. This was followed by the "spirited solo" (The Stage and Television) Fragments: Discourse on Love (1991–92) performed at the Oval House Theatre. Family Portraits (1993–94) was also performed as part of Continental Shifts at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was performed in London at The Place Theatre (Evolutions! 1993) and the Bonnie Bird Theatre. En Viva Voz (1995–96) was performed as part of Spring Loaded at The Place Theatre and was awarded the Bonnie Bird Award for Choreography that year. In April 1997 the company produced Now we are no longer who we were then... based on Jean Cocteau’s Jeune Homme et la Mort. She directed, choreographed and produced Futur/Perfekt, an international collaborative performance project exploring the relationship between individual histories, city landscapes and the notion of the global. The project began in Berlin in 1998 and was performed in the USA, Austria, Puerto Rico, Colombia and México. In 2003 she created Inside Heiner’s Mind, a one-woman solo that has toured internationally. In 2004 with support from the Austrian Cultural Forum and the Theatre Museum Vienna she produced Mahler’s Fifths. The piece was the recipient of the Creative Collaborations in Music Award from PRS for its treatment of dance and "live music" in performance. The piece toured internationally in 2005. Killing Charity in collaboration with director Niall Rea was premiered as part of Fronteras Latin American Festival at the Robin Howard Dance Theatre in October 2004. She was the solo performer in Holds no memory, an Arts Council of England supported collaboration between Theatre enCorps and Swedish choreographer Efva Lilja. []. We: Implicated and Complicated, a duet with Milos Sofrenovic with an original score by Nikos Panagiotopoulos was produced in 2006 with Arts Council of England support and has been performed in London, Stockholm and Vienna. In summer 2010 she was one of the artists in residence at Jacksonville University (Florida) MFA Dance programme. The residency is a collaboration between the University's Dance Department and the White Oak Plantation. The solo 45,46,47, The Unbearable was premiered as part of the Festival of the Association of Greek Choreographers in Athens, Greece at the Neos Kosmos Theatre, May 23–24, 2011. In 2012 she resumes collaboration with composer Kiriakos Spirou for the project After All is said and done...more will have been said than done, that premiered as part of the "In progress" Festival at Kinitiras Studio and Artistic Residency Centre in Athens. The work continues their research into the relationship between listening and moving, choreography and musical composition. In 2015 in collaboration with sound artist and director Dimitris Karalis and lighting designer Pavlos Mavridis she created the solo Out of the Belly of the Whale (2015) which was performed as part of the triptych Abandoned Worlds, premiered in Athens. The project Moving Sounds with Dimitris Karalis and Yannis Kassetas was researched and developed, with an informal presentation at CoDa21 in April 2014. It went to a second stage of development in summer 2016 with the support of a grant by the National Endownment for the Arts (Artworks 2016). In 2016 she begins the series of 'One-Off dances' with the solo Fallen [One]. She then produced the duet Falling Grace with dancer Roberto Lopez performed at the Luis A Ferre Fine Arts Centre in Puerto Rico, July 2016. In November she presented the work The sky lens on me... within the performance events part of the Benaki Museum exhibition Out/topias: Performance, Outdoor and Public Space. Also in November 2016 she co-directed with videographer Juan Orozco the project Body-Image as part of the Danza en la Ciudad Festival, Bogota, Colombia. Since May 2017 Theatre enCorps has presented a series of site-specific interventions under the title J(US)T 5 curated by Thanos Vovolis with choreography and performance by Sanchez-Colberg. Events took place as part of Athens Intersections Festival (May 9, 2017), Art-Athina (May 27th, 2017) and Back to Athens June 9, June 17, 2017). A new reiteration of the work under the title J[US]T 5: Redux will be presented at The Performance Shop events part of Athens International Festival June 2018. In 2019 she created the international participatory dance event Seven to the Seventh, that connected artists and their cities synchronically throughout seven days 24-30 June. By the end of the week over 3.4k people had participated in the event either remotely through mobile platforms and on one of the multiple international sites. See for the full archive. Ana was one of 40 awardees of the prestigious MAP Awards 2019 for the creation of the project 1[-1] Materiality of Exile in collaboration with BoxoPROJECTS. The project focuses on migratory histories in the Southwest desert, with a focus on the Latinx community whose identity is marked by migrations and “crossing” through the desert. The archive can be seen at:

Sánchez-Colberg has worked in collaboration with international companies. She has produced four commissioned pieces for Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico: Ojos Que No Ven (1992), which received the first prize in the Festival of Caribbean Choreographers and has been subsequently performed as part of Ballet Concierto's performances in New York's Lincoln Center and the Wuppertal Opera House, Sartorii (1994), Entre Huella y Pisada (1996), which received various awards from the Corporation for Music and Scenic Arts (NEA), and Tejiendo Memorias (1998). She produced a piece for the ballet of the Staatstheater Cottbus, es lasst sich nicht lesen.. with support from the British Council (Berlin). Strange Muse, produced in June 1997, was commissioned by the Institute of Culture of Puerto Rico in collaboration with musicians from the Puerto Rico Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997 she premiered a work for Foreign Bodies Dance Company developed with support from East Midlands Arts. She has also choreographed Recollections (1999) for Andanza (Puerto Rico), and Cuerpos (no) Mienten (2012) a group dance for seven dancers with an original composition by composer [ Kiriakos Spirou] for three pianos for CoDA 21 (Puerto Rico).

Sánchez-Colberg has collaborated with filmmaker Chris Clow in film and documentary projects that aim to capture the intuitive and ephemeral moments that lead to works of dance. These include [ Mahler's fifths (2005)] Holds No Memory [ (2005, stage 1)] [ 2006 part 1], [ 2006 part 2] and [ We: Implicated and Complicated (2007]). The documentary film of the creative process into [ 45, 46, 47 The Unbearable] was premiered at [ Kinitiras Studio-Residency Centre], Athens on 16 March 2011.

In 2011 in collaboration with Kinitiras Studio and Artists Residency Centre in Athens, Greece she created the Kinitiras Choreography Lab for which she acted as the director and mentor. The main aim of the project was to open a much needed space for experienced artists to continue personal and professional development. See []

Artistic Research and Pedagogy

Sánchez-Colberg is a guest teacher in dance schools and festivals and has taught in the Tanzwochen/Vienna, International Festival of Theatre in Bogota, Colombia, Helsinki Theatre Academy, University College Dance Stockholm, and the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, amongst others. She has worked at centres for dance and theatre training, including the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance (now Trinity/Laban, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Helsinki Theatre Academy, and most recently the University of the Arts Department of Dance and Circus [] in Stockholm where she has held the position of Visiting Professor of Choreography and Composition 2006–2013.

Her recent writing develops the notion of practice-based-research with attention to choreographic and performance practices. Her work proposes new relationships between concepts and practice as it pertains to contemporary dance-theatre practice. In "Making the Invisible Visible" she suggests that the aim is to find a method of practice that can capture "the minutia, the fleeting, the subtle, by slowing down the process to find the steps within the steps and as such allow the intelligence of the body to come through and thus ’make explicit’ the intelligence of the body". For Sánchez-Colberg this "occurs at two mutually influential levels. On the one hand there is the continuous exploration and experimentation with the materials of the medium—whatever we define them to be—as well as the development of shareable artistic skills and methods. On the other, one finds the generation of artistic discourse through which we as artists, educators and industry providers are able to exchange knowledge in and through our various practices."

The essay "Holds No Memory: A proposition as a way to a proposal on Dance"", which discusses the process into the making and performance of the piece of the same title, has been published in Dance in A World of Change (2008).

In 2019 she publishes the essay ‘Moving Sounds New Approaches to Dance and Music In Improvisation, co-written with Dimitris Karalis. The essay is part of The Oxford Companion to Dance Improvisation.

Work in Theatre and Performance

Concurrent with her work in dance and choreography, Sánchez-Colberg also has a track record in work in theatre and performance, with a particular focus on movement for actors and physical/non text based direction and dramaturgy. Sánchez-Colberg holds a BA (Hons) Theatre Arts, Magna Cum Laude (with a double major in Drama Literature-20th Century ) from the University of Pennsylvania. As part of the work towards the honours, she followed an independent programme of study leading to a dissertation looking at the 'birth' of physical theatre in relation to changes to theatre and dance practices stemming from the avant-garde of the early 1900s in Europe. The work looked in detail at practitioners such as Meyerhold, Copeau, Checkhov, Lecoq, Artaud and Grotowski. The research had a practical dimension in collaboration with the physical theatre company 'Intuitions', a devised-performance based on Euripide's Bacchae for which she did the movement direction as well as played the lead role of Dyonisus.

As movement director for Intuitions, she was involved in three major productions: Alice In Wonderland (1983) (based on the Andre Gregory Performance Garage text of the 1970s), Bacchae - in 84 , and Buchner's Woyzzeck(1984). She has also worked with London-based Rougue 28 Theatre Company as performer and movement advisor between 2006–2008. Sánchez-Colberg was course leader of the MA Performance Practices and Research at Central School of Speech and Drama (2005–2008), the largest conservatory of drama and theatre in the UK. The MA focusses on physical and interdisciplinary based performance. During this time she was leader of the Dramaturgy strand of the MA Advanced Theatre Practices as well as contributed to various modules in the MA Movement Direction, MA Classical Acting and MA Musical Theatre. She was also Ph D supervisor to various theatre and performance research projects ranging from interdisciplinary approaches to puppetry and dance to re-examination of Laban's work in dialogue with the philosophy of Aristotle.

Her pedagogy of movement for the stage is based on Laban's principles, in particularly an understanding of the infinite possibilities of movement that are available for theatrical expression both through the 'body's own terms' as well as in relation to working with text - devised and classical. The approach is not one that seeks to establish a movement language based on external repetition of movement patterns or effort/psychological traits, but rather one that seeks to develop the performer as an 'articulate subject' with physical, dynamic, mental and emotive dimensions all which play a role in the creation of the ‘stage world’. Importantly the training is organised under the framework of a 'laboratory' of movement exploration, bringing forward the idea of 'what if...' -- central to text based performance- to bear upon the treatment of the body on stage. The emphasis is on engaging creatively in process based work whilst acquiring precise physical skills (core stability, flexibility, dynamic range, effective use of breath for movement and voice, understanding the poetics of the body-in-space and space-of-the body). However, different to the ‘tradition’ of ‘Laban for actors’ which remain rooted in ‘character’ and therefore addresses the actor/text/director relationship) she brings to the foreground the lesser known aspects of Laban's work and that is the study of ‘making space’ (choreutics). This angle aligns the work of the performer to the work of the scenographer/dramaturg through a consideration of how the body in motion shapes an invisible scenographic dramaturgy. The training aims to draw awareness to the dynamic and shifting design of the ‘lived’ space [through spatial parameters that include progression, projection, tension] created through spatial relationships between the performers to each other and simultaneously to everything that is a ‘body’ on stage (in the architectural sense, everything that occupies/delineates space is a ‘body’)- props, scenography elements, light. Therefore, in training for ‘movement’ the student of theatre and performance is confronted with the totality of the stage world, the training goes beyond movement as a subtext for plot and ‘characterization’. Sánchez-Colberg position as an expert practitioner in theatre is confirmed by the many invitations to teach at important international fora as well as the track record of external examination in the area of movement for actors -including examination of Ph D level work- at Rose Bruford College (UK), Chichester University (UK), Dartington College (UK), Brunell University (UK), University of Canterbury (UK), Helsinki Theatre Academy (FI).

She is the author of the seminal essay defining physical theatre practice Altered States and Sublimal Spaces: Charting the Road towards a Physical Theatre. First published in the journal Performance Research in 1996, the essay is now included in the reader Physical Theatres: A Critical Reader, edited by John Keefe and Simon Murray.

As part of her position of Professor of Choreography and Composition at the University Dance and Circus Stockholm (2008-2013), Sánchez-Colberg worked in various interdisciplinary projects between dance and new circus. She supervised John Paul Zaccarini, the first Ph D candidate in a practice based dissertation in (new) Circus in 2013. She currently contributes to the MFA Choreography at Jacksonville University as well as the MA in Contemporary Circus Practices at Unirts, Stockholm.

Arts for Social Development

The work of Ana Sanchez-Colberg and Theatre enCorps is committed to foster a more inclusive and just society through creative activity that promotes participation by diverse and under-represented groups. This includes the design and delivery of a one-day workshop on capacity building for artists, policy makers and NGO's as part of the project Arts for Social Development organized by the EUNIC partners in Greece (European Union National Institutes of Culture). The workshop CREATE/CHANGE provided an introduction to the concept of ‘creative industries’ and social innovation. She delivered the key-note address on Creative Industries Today regarding arts practices and policies in the ‘post crisis ‘economy (June 2014). Furthermore, in 2015 also in collaboration with the Norwegian Embassy and the EUNIC (European Union National Institutes of Culture) she organized a one-day symposium on dance and the immigration crisis in Greece in collaboration . The project Banoptikon included the presentation of a performance event by Dancevacuum, and a discussion panel with contributions from sociologists, economists, Daniel Esdras director of the International Organization for Migration (Greece), as well as artists working in the field of arts and social development. In February she organized the symposium Eyes Wide Open exploring dance and diversity in collaboration with the project Drops of Breath Project. In 2016 as part of the National Endowment for the Arts grant for the project Moving Sounds, she delivered a one-week project on dance and music for the residents of Instituto Psicopedagogico de Puerto Rico, the island's only residential and educational facility for individuals with multiple and severe disabilities. The project led to the creation of Sin Barreras (Without Barriers), the first integrated dance group in the history of dance in Puerto Rico, which is continues to work under the direction of Awilda Cintron.