On Performance Practices and/as Education

Relational. Challenging. Transferable.

Education is a relational process. It is a process where teaching and learning are reciprocal practices for self-affirmation, intellectual development, and sharpening a self-reflective voice. In this discursive process, collaborativity and process take primacy and they are  informed by individual voices. Collaboration and process open up possibilities for expanded growth, where participants acquire new knowledges and practical aptitudes that attune to bodies, human, non-human, and otherwise.

Cultivating an education centered on relational processes requires a platform to practice challenging the fixed ideas of the “instructor” and “pupil.” I believe relational education models facilitate environments where each instructor and student, through exposure to new perspectives, are provided the opportunity to evaluate what is understood, allowing for change and growth. As Jacques Ranciere describes, the ignorant schoolmaster is a guide, directing not stultifying, honoring each stakeholder in the immediate process. I believe it is the role of the instructor to be student-centered, developing learning and critical articulation skills by employing direct, primarily small group participation. For the students, they are expected to actively engage and question, using the classroom as a springboard to broaden heir own interests, discoveries, and processes. Students are challenged to demonstrate a growing adeptness in personal discipline and individual expression. As such, I am an advocate of the deschooling philosophy that values and prioritizes time for both instructor and student to develop the intrinsic core competencies of collaboration to embrace multiple perspectives and cultivating intellectual dexterity.

Furthermore, the ideal classroom situation is a space in which we deepen and transfer the ideas and aptitudes into multiple communal spheres. The skills learned and practiced in educational processes spill over into non-classroom contexts. By valuing diverse opinions and, at times, opposing views, a critical education provides individuals with a myriad of skills to contribute to building healthy communities.

Juan M. Aldape in Finland

Envision. Perform. Practice.

I believe performance disciplines effectively envision and practice this relational education because their modalities and creative practices are suited for the development of collaborative, multi-perspective, and diverse epistemologies. Not only do performance-led models emphasize practice-led inquiry to equip practitioners with skills necessary for successful careers, but they also offer transformative power because one crafts a unique voice, incorporates intelligent layers into work, and inculcates a commitment to relational growth.

I have a keen interest in the three performance modalities of traditional written scholarship, creative practice, and curation. Adopting these pedagogical tools provides a discovery of discourse, rich aesthetic development, and practice unto itself. Practitioners not only develop and produce their own work, but they also exhibit their work to actively frame new contexts of their own work and the work of others. Through this added critical performance mode of curation, practitioners take risks in initiating a personal discipline and professional peer relationships, ultimately gaining a self-assuredness in individual perspective while deepening a fluency for communicating across various modes of dissemination.

I employ workshop formats in which practitioners learn through direct participation. We focus on environmental explorations to open up an awareness to the immediate working space, as well as to provide qualitative information pertaining to discussed themes. Movement improvisation offers an opportunity to compose structures relating to the notions of discussion at hand as well as giving freedom for individual expression. We use literary reviews, research, written analysis, and a reflection blog to contribute to distinct and contextual insight. This approach furnishes a remarkable process for sifting through ideas and placing them into historical and current conversations. We use auditory experiments where sounds are collected from immediate surroundings and combined with movement to make soundscores to prompt creative uses of digital technologies. We adopt frequent showing of works-in-progress to instill accountability and to impart determination to ideas. We organize and participate in multilingual conversations to make available the need to adopt news modes of engagement.

bring an international perspective to local dialogues because I consider that regional and world contexts affect and broaden our very local setting. Having lived in various international contexts, I am cognizant of the humbling fact that there is no dominant cultural narrative. It is critical to promote the mentalities that value plural histories, diverse narrative, and different aesthetic trajectories. Yet, there are equitable processes that make sense of different experiences. To this extent, I uphold that the diversity of performance practices are valuable, and the variable modes of inquiry combine sociopolitical philosophies into relational, performative actions.

Performance practice spaces are educational labs where instructors interact with students in nonhierarchical structures to impart valuable information; diligently practicing to stay away from explication, establishing the discipline as unmovable, promoting the notion of the canon. The pupil is introduced to core ideas in practice disciplines explicated It is a place where students practice improving their skills of observation and articulation about performance ideas, verbally, written and creatively. Additionally, it is space where students develop their own structures and develop skills and disciplines to practice, form, define and refine their practice over time. Likewise, it is a space to develop executive and entrepreneurial skills while also being honored for what they bring into the classroom or studio. Performance learning spaces are the ideal way to introduce, acquire, cultivate and foster important lifelong enabling skills where participants can exercise collaboration, and challenge established Neo-Fordist norms of education and cognitive capital. Performance spaces are a platform for investing resources that fuel the development of the student’s creative processes as professional artists, community members, and citizens.

Juan M. Aldape at Mudson Performance Series.

Action. Dialogue. Articulation.

As the immigrant son of immigrant parents, I have experienced performance and the arts as methods of intellectual development and political involvement to challenge and re-imagine our cultural spheres and sense of belonging in a neoliberal world. Performance changes everything; the power of the arts strengthens tolerance and compassion in our ever more diverse, and divided, communities. In a world where people are often separated by language differences, ideologies, community borders, socioeconomic inequalities, and ethnic conflict, it is extremely easy to be close minded. Considering the inaccessibility of most academic disciplines, the arts have a unique capacity to engage people with widely varied backgrounds to reach a cultural understanding, reconciliation, and peacekeeping. I was able to develop a confidence in myself and an acute language to talk about the world around me through the arts in general and performance in particular. Through art-inspired dialogue and action, we transpire over our circumstances and practive valuing the relationship we share with others.