Press release


Choreographer and performer Claire Cunningham to become Einstein Professor for „Choreography, Dance and Disability Arts“

Scottish choreographer and performer Claire Cunningham is to become the Einstein Professor of „Choreography, Dance and Disability Arts“ at the Inter-University Centre for Dance (HZT) from the winter semester 2023/24. As part of her professorship, Claire Cunningham will teach and research at the HZT for an initial five years. She is the first artist to receive an Einstein Strategic Professorship. In Berlin the internationally renowned artist will contribute and further develop her focus on the „Choreography of Care“, among other research areas. 

Cunningham uses and misuses her crutches as an extension of her dancing body, and the „Choreography of Care“ is an artistic response to questions arising from her critical reflection on normativity. As Cunningham explains, this is about „practices of attention and observation, informed by the lived experience of disability and by crip, queer and feminist thinking“.  

Claire Cunningham‘s work at the HZT also involves the centre’s two supporting universities, the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK Berlin) and the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts (HfS Ernst Busch), with the aim of developing inter- and transdisciplinary projects whose inclusive approach can be shared by other artistic degree programmes. As part of her Einstein Strategic Professorship, Claire Cunningham will also collaborate with colleagues from other Berlin universities and cultural institutions.  

„The opportunity to share the work, techniques and practices of disabled dance artists and choreographers with students, to place these lines in a prestigious European dance and arts institution and to support the education of disabled dancers and choreographers is a tremendously exciting task for me. I am looking forward to deepening my own research in a new constellation of colleagues and students in Berlin. In previous encounters with the HZT students, I have found their curiosity and desire to engage and learn beyond the studio to be truly encouraging, and their proactive approach to learning from a variety of experiences sets them apart from students I have met elsewhere“, the choreographer comments.

Prof. Nik Haffner, Artistic Director of the HZT, adds: „The appointment of choreographer Claire Cunningham as Einstein Strategic Professor is a milestone for Berlin, both for the dance scene and for the research and university landscape; also because Claire Cunningham always sees her art as an exploration of social issues and as activism. The Einstein Strategic Professorship was able to emerge from the foundation built by the Berlin network ‚Making a Difference‘, which has been promoting the independent work of disabled, d/Deaf and chronically ill artists in dance since 2018; the HZT has been one of the eight founding organisations of this network“. 

The directors of the HZT’s two supporting universities also see the appointment as an outstanding contribution towards situating Berlin as a centre of  artistic research and international cooperation for art and science.

Prof. Dr. Norbert Palz, President of the UdK Berlin: „Claire Cunningham‘s appointment to the Einstein Strategic Professorship expands the artistic and scientific profile of the HZT to a relevant degree. Her interdisciplinary profile offers interesting institutional networking opportunities between the arts and sciences with a great radiance beyond Berlin.

Dr. Anna Luise Kiss, Rector of the HfS Ernst Busch: „A lot has happened in terms of inclusion in the arts education at Berlin‘s four artistic universities. The Einstein Strategic Professorship in ‚Choreography, Dance and Disability Arts‘ is an ideal continuation of this development. The opportunity to experience Claire Cunningham’s work and to be able to learn from and collaborate with her is a great motivation and enrichment that will have an impact far beyond the HZT and its supporting universities, elevating Berlin as a location for artistic education and research“.

With the Strategic Professorships, the Einstein Foundation Berlin supports the appointment of top researchers from abroad who are of outstanding strategic importance for Berlin as a centre of science and research. The programme was launched with generous support from the Damp Foundation. For the first time, the Foundation is awarding the Einstein Strategic Professorship to an arts university. „Claire Cunningham‘s willingness to come to Berlin is a distinction for our city, and we are pleased that we as the Einstein Foundation have been able to make a contribution“, says Chairman of the Board Prof. Martin Rennert.

For more information please contact:
Claudia Assmann
Head of the Press & Communications 
Berlin University of the Arts


The Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin (HZT) is a locally and internationally oriented centre of study and research for a creative and critical engagement with dance, choreography, body-based practices and performance. Founded in 2006, HZT Berlin started as a four-year pilot project within Tanzplan Deutschland, an initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Since 2010, the HZT has continued on an institutional basis. It is jointly supported by the UdK Berlin and the HfS Ernst Busch, in contractually bound cooperation with TanzRaumBerlin, a network of the professional Berlin dance scene.  

The Berlin University of the Arts is one of the few artistic universities in Europe that unites all artistic disciplines and the humanities related to them. More than 70 artistic, artistic-scientific and artistic-pedagogical degree programmes are offered at the departments of Fine Arts, Design, Music and Performing Arts as well as the inter-university centres Dance (HZT) and Jazz (JIB Berlin) and the Central Institute for Continuing Education. Of around 4,000 students, more than one third have an international background. The history of the university dates back to the founding of the Brandenburg-Prussian Academy of the Arts in 1696. The UdK Berlin acquired its present form in 1975 through the merger of the University of Fine Arts and the University of Music and Performing Arts to form the University of the Arts (HdK). Since 2001, the Berlin University of the Arts has borne its current name. With more than 700 events a year, it makes a significant contribution to the cultural life of the city. Since 1 April 2020, the President of the UdK Berlin has been Prof. Dr. Norbert Palz.

The Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts offers seven degree programmes: Acting, Directing, Dramaturgy, Contemporary Puppetry, Play and Object, Choreography and Stage Dance. Various artistic signatures have been and continue to be brought into the university by renowned theatre, dance and film personalities. Internationally recognised lecturers have shaped and continue to shape the profile of the university and contribute to its remarkable international reputation. Numerous graduates are among the most outstanding artists in the country. The university is deeply rooted in the theatre, dance and film landscape.

The Einstein Foundation Berlin is an independent, not-for-profit, science-led organization established as a foundation under civil law. For over ten years, it has promoted international cutting-edge science and research across disciplines and institutions in and for Berlin. It has funded 200 researchers - including three Nobel laureates - over 70 projects, and seven Einstein Centers.
For science. For Berlin.