A report written by Valentina De Piante

For 7 days I was an observer, a thinker, a listener and a motivator, debating different topics and practices. I went through different roles. Each day was divided into interesting sub-units where improvisational structures were devised with freedom and creativity. We began by analysing topics, then jumped into the matter – reflecting, dancing and thinking – followed by drawing and moving or writing. Every day unfolded in a different order, in response to momentary needs as they arose. As in nature, I felt the information planted inside me like seeds, and now I am waiting for the time when they will grow.

We, as seven international teachers and seven native young teachers-performers, met to focus on teaching as a place where knowledge and consciousness are linked, helping each of us to grow in all directions. In this process of learning, the teacher is confused with his student, and he learns what he actually needs to learn. In fact, we also exchanged roles, creating a practice routine where everybody is a student and asks questions, followed by a practice where everybody is a teacher and proposes what he is seeking and does not yet know. We asked a question: does art have fixed notions or it is free, with the possibility to invent something new? So we proposed questioning as a tool for better learning. In this process, each member of the team was my teacher, reaping together something unique and personal.

As a group, we had to find ways to organize as a collective. During the process, interesting suspensions of time and periods marked by a lack of decision occurred. At the same time, we learned how to listen, how to wait for something, anything new to appear – be it a new option, thought or practice. I also liked how our thought processes flowed. Sometimes when verbalising out loud our problems, wishes and needs, we could discover interesting things. Listening from the inside and outside at the same time, we became a differentiated unit, a group that organized in different directions simultaneously. For example, we held two or three practices simultaneously, or we separated into smaller groups to discuss topics that interested us. After each discussion or practice, we had time for reflection. Also, amazing practices emerged from fine problems of creating harmony among us, and in this confusing situation creativity could transform strange feelings into beautiful moments of sharing. Hence, by working with improvisational structures and not with the things we had already experimented with, we encountered the Unknown.

WHY I AM TEACHING From day one, we needed to establish the main topic around which all the other subjects would organize themselves – a topic that was actually a question: what is the role of art in our teaching?

We realized that art is a necessity, a need through which we can express ourselves. Still, art has so many functions – like opening the world or the heart to something or someone who is different, creating links between theories and practices, between worlds, cultures, between me and you. Also, art can break down borders between the body and the mind, between my cultural and personal history. In this context, many different perspectives surrounding the main topic were born spontaneously. From this starting point, we weaved a web – like Penelope – knowing that the next day we would challenge our practices, our theories and reflections, thus unravelling the web.

At the end of the week, I started to see the whole picture. We need to build connections between every person and all our accumulated knowledge. Then, we must establish practices in accordance with this embodied knowledge. In this special context, teaching and learning became a place where feelings and failures could also coexist and where we could experience our doubts without fears.
I am grateful to the WSF for this experimental week of great research!

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