Performance Research and Pedagogy: Inviting in the Unknown

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In this collaborative, co-authored article we offer a critical-creative discussion of pedagogy and the unknown in the context of student artists developing and carrying out performance research projects. This article shares our enquiries and provides information on the educational context of undertaking research within a conservatoire context, and specifically delivering the Performance Research module to students in their third year of the Contemporary Performance Practice BA (Hons) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. We propose a pedagogy of what we are naming ‘inviting in the unknown,’ where student performance-makers are encouraged to enter a space of unknowing in order to become agents in finding and defining practice-as-research for themselves. Drawing on debates around practice-led research that resonate with working with the unknown (Nelson 2013; Kershaw 2011; Jones 2009) and wider philosophical perspectives on the creation of ‘knowledge’ (Ahmed 2017; Barad 2007; Salami 2020; Haraway 1991), we argue that this pedagogical approach enables students to develop distinctive research approaches and methods, which can lead to unique engagements with practice-generating knowledges and knowledge-generating practices both within and beyond performance studies. Through a mixture of student focus groups, student evaluations and reflections on the module, our own perspectives and experiences as artist-led and research-led teachers, and drawing from wider debates around practice-as-research and pedagogy, we argue that performance practice can uniquely embrace and work with the unknown. Through these processes, performance students can develop distinct research questions and methods which will take their practices in as-yet unknown directions.


Original languageEnglish
JournalMedia Practice and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 8 Feb 2022