Abbiosis opens in a cave-like space. Among moving shadows and in muted greys, an indiscernible creature is depicted against a rocky backdrop. A pallid mix of limbs and vertebrae, it breathes in on itself, a line of symmetry coursing through its centre, giving us an impression of a primal, one-celled organism, like an amoeba. Pearly and slimy, its minimal movements are reinforced by the sound of wind that echoes through chambers, perhaps deep down underground. Is this a womb, a cocoon? Is it a (re)birth?


Gradually unravelling into a caterpillar-like insect, the repeated limbs are soon revealed to belong to humans: a string of four performers, slotting into each other’s bodies and moving as one, crawl out into the sunlight. The worm-like being, moving in synergy, makes its way into the world. It travels along a road in the woods, then across bushy and stony landscapes, eventually reaching the city. 


As its journey extends outwards, its movements collapse inwards. It rolls back in on itself, like an animal feeding off its own internal resources. It shrinks and grows, it pulsates; like it’s absorbing its environment, sucking the outside world in. It is as though processes in nature, those we can’t see with the naked eye, have been enlarged and translated onto human bodies. The effect is disturbing, sometimes even horrifying, and yet fascinating at the same time. 

Still from Abbiosis by Lucía García 

Once in the city, danger strikes: the sound, that has so far brought a sweeping ambience, introduces a more suspenseful tone, and the insect-like being becomes separated. Much like a worm that has been cut cleanly in half, its severed elements continue to snake their way onto the pavement. Without hesitation the beings climb up stairs, into elevators, down escalators – and soon over people. But the pedestrians walk on as if nothing has happened. Oblivious, they pass by cars and fences on suburban streets. Do they not notice the dead-weight parasites, clinging to their necks? Perhaps they are invisible, undetectable – like a virus? 


From initial, intimate encounters, we skip forward to ultimate multiplication. On all six sides of a hexagon, the creature sits in a heap. It squirms, each of its awkward movements ricocheting off the walls of a cell and falling into perfect symmetry. As we zoom out, we see that this cell is one of many that together form an eerie, kaleidoscopic grid. I am reminded of a beehive, or the inner-workings of an anthill – is this how the beings live? Is this how they procreate, how they build?


The title “Abbiosis” sounds like a medical condition or a disease. A virus that could cause havoc on humankind. Following the global Covid-2019 pandemic, the dangers of contagion have become ever more real. “Abbiosis” takes these fears and runs with them. As the creatures invade, we are reminded of our fragility as a species. But we are also in awe of them, of their oddness, their otherness. The film shows us the incredible ability of nature to morph and adapt, to evolve into lifeforms we can only dream to understand. We are given space to revel in these mysteries, however lethal they may be. 

Still from Abbiosis by Lucía García 

Upon further reflection on the title, the word “abiosis”, spelled with one b, means “the absence or lack of life, a nonviable state”. The opening sequence in the cave brings us to a lifeless place. And yet, even there, life persists. Out of barren nothingness, a throbbing blob finds its footing and conquers new territories that belong to other species, other bodies. A “what if” scenario arises; What if we can’t feel it? What if it’s unstoppable? What if coexisting with it is not an option? The newborn, meanwhile, follows its natural course. Whether that benefits humankind, is irrelevant; it does what it does. And taken from its viewpoint, things are looking up.  

This material was created within the project Translation on Air – a section dedicated to dance for the screen or screendance. Every month we invite the professional and amateur audience, tempted by this intriguing symbiosis between cinema and dance, to join our readings, conversations, and discussions with active practitioners and choreographers in this field from the country and abroad.

The project Translation on Air is implemented with the financial support of the National Fund Culture under the program Audiences 2020 and One-Year Grant 2021.

Videography and references: 

Short film Abbiosis by Lucía García

Definition “abiosis” taken from

Beatrix Joyce (UK/NL) is a dance artist and dance writer based in Berlin. She trained in Contemporary Dance at Laban, London and graduated with an MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths University in 2016. She works across the domains of dance, writing and sound and creates site-specific, intermedia and immersive performances. In 2021 she started the performance in public space series WILD ACCESS, a hybrid format between audio walk and live performance, which has so far had three editions in Berlin: “WILD ACCESS Schöneberg” (September 2021, funded by Bezirksamt Schöneberg and Initiative Draußenstadt), “WILD ACCESS Pankow” (October 2021, funded by Bezirksamt Pankow), and “WILD ACCESS Lichtenberg” (October 2022, funded by Bezirksamt Lichtenberg and Fonds Darstellende Künste). In 2022 she was a resident artist in Cottbus, Brandenburg as part of the DiR Residency programme. As a writer, she joined the editorial team for Tanz im August in 2020 and writes for among others Stream (Tanzfabrik, Berlin) and Springback Magazine.