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Very often within contemporary culture a separation is practiced between the arts of the body and sexual exploration. Disciplines such as yoga, dance and martial arts are rarely linked to curiosity about human sexuality. Too seldom is the question asked, for example, in what way sadomasochistic drives are mobilized in ballet or yoga, or how an ability to change partners and switch roles is cultivated by many types of dance. Conversely, those who practice unconventional forms of sex don't ask themselves enough how their erotic lives could benefit from disciplines such as yoga, dance or the martial arts.
One of the innovations of Xplore has been to bring together a highly developed interest in the body and sexual exploration. This has been largely the consequence of the founder of Xplore, Felix Ruckert, a Berlin-based choreographer, whose work and life has been to cultivate the performance and artistic potential of the erotic field, particularly the ensemble of practices gathered under the title BDSM.
As a festival, Xplore has the form of a large three-day ‘conference’ with concurrent sessions with regular breaks, where participants can mingle and share what they have experienced. However, Xplore is not an academic conference. it is an ensemble of workshops led mostly by professional artists, each on a particular topic of sexuality and/or corporeal experience that interests them. Participants are not so much lectured to, but given the possibility of an experience, each time new and unique. In the morning there are usually sessions focusing more on the corporeal (e.g. yoga, animal games, erotic massage, foot washing), while in the afternoon more psychological aspects are explored (e.g. exhibitionism, whipping, ethical sluthood, novice orgy).
More than being an absolutely unique opportunity to learn and grow emotionally, Xplore is for me above all a social innovation. It brings people together in ways that are scarcely imaginable in our culture. And yet, at the same time it always remains safe, sane and consensual. Beautiful, unpredictable things happen, and the connections we make will remain and reverberate for a long time after.
Peter Banki, Ph.D
Photo: © Peter Hönnemann