RECESS (research-in-action) by Michael Helland

RECESS photo by Michael Helland

Initiated in 2015, RECESS is an evolving form of research-in-action that stands for many things…

As an event, ‘recess’ is a period of playtime, or a period for contemplation – a temporary suspension of regular daily activities.

As an installation, ‘recess’ refers to a small hidden space apart from the rest – a place to get lost and eventually become found.

As an action, ‘recess’ is an act of contraction – a counterpoint to notions of permanent growth, presenting opportunities for sustained renewal.

But above all, RECESS is the ‘Ritual Experience Concept Event Spa Show’ – a site-sensitive installation, situation for performance, and immersive workshop series that aims to re-enchant the senses and inspire ecological awareness through holistic gatherings.

RECESS is an ongoing form of research-in-action by Michael Helland. Previous phases of research have resulted in RECESS: Dance of Light (2016) – a one-hour theatrical intervention in New York, and RECESS: ZSenne Salon (2017) – a two-week exhibition in Brussels.


RECESS: Circle Dance – Awarded a 2019 Workspacebrussels Residency
Stay tuned for 2019 workshop dates in Brussels!

The immersive performance workshop RECESS: Circle Dance marks a new phase of embodied research into the ancient tradition of circle dancing.  From the dawn of human civilization people have always gathered around a source of light to connect, tell stories, sing, and dance – it’s from these diverse cultural and geographic origins that many circle dance practices have emerged. Circle dance can be seen as one of the first situations for dancing, helping to build community and foster a vibrant cultural space. However, many of these dances have been long forgotten. Perhaps we can work to combat symptoms of technological distraction and isolation plaguing contemporary society by reclaiming and reimagining these lost choreographies.

Most circle dances consist of a simple stepping pattern performed while holding hands in a circle, thus forming the basis for a unique form of active meditation and social bonding. To prepare for this practice, RECESS: Circle Dance begins with a brief introduction to the tenants of sacred geometry. Thereafter, participants are guided through a tour of embodiment practices exploring circularity from a variety of angles (i.e. Kundalini Yoga, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Tai Chi, Ballet). The workshop culminates with a series of circle dances, which can also be performed in the surrounding public space – offering a unique form of enchantment!

RECESS: RSVP – Individual Sessions by Appointment Only
Contact Michael for more information.

Informed by more than a decade working in contemporary dance and somatic practice, RECESS: RSVP is a unique individual ritual-based treatment that aims to re-enchant the senses and activate the kaleidoscope of light flowing through our rainbow bodies.


Bauer Hour: RECESS, talk show hosted by Eleanor Bauer, Kaaistudio’s (Brussels) April 21, 2015

RECESS creative residency at Summer Studios (Brussels) July 27-August 14, 2015

RECESS: Dance of Light, short-performance for Movement Research at Judson Church (New York) February 22, 2016

RECESS: Dance of Light, evening-length performance for New Dance Alliance’s Performance Mix Festival at Abrons Arts Center (New York) June-6-7, 2016

RECESS creative residency at the Villa Empain (Brussels) October 17-20, 2016

RECESS creative residency wpZimmer (Antwerp) November 14-27, 2016

RECESS awarded a research grant from the Flemish Authorities of Belgium 2017

RECESS creative residency at the Villa Empain (Brussels) March 1-5, 2017

RECESS: ZSenne Salon, exhibition and workshop space at ZSenne art lab (Brussels) September 11-24, 2017

RECESS: Becoming Crystalline, workhops at Gropius Bau (Berlin) June 22-15, 2018

RECESS creative residency at Summer Studios (Brussels) July 9-27, 2018

RECESS awarded a creative residency with Workspacebrussels 2019