Questions Arising

This blog was written by Emma Jayne Park, facilitator for the Scottish CROWD residency with artists Alex McCabe and Stefanie Schwimmbeck. Writing is inspired by conversations that came up as part of the lab but has been written subjectively, from their own perspective as a community dance artist and facilitator. The hope is for any blog content to further the conversations that were started during the residency instead of pretending to share any concrete outcomes. In hindsight Emma may not agree with what they have written – this is fine too!

This blog post is list of all the questions that arose during the residency period in Scotland. Loosely categorised but in no particular order. Captured quickly, without context and at times with clumsy language.

YOU
What might you want to try out?
What might you like to discuss?
What might you need to do?
What might you like to know more about?
What might you need people to know about you?
What rhythm do you need to do your best work?!
What mode of conversation do you need to talk about [insert topic of interest]
– Soap Box?
– Over Dinner?
– Walking Together?
– Ted Talk?
– In the Smokers Area?

How do you feel about your ‘bag of knowledge’ today?
Will it open easily? Is it heavy? Does it feel heavy?
What does integrity look like to you?
How do you handle the feeling of ‘I don’t know what to do’?
Judgement?
From who?
How do you measure the impact of small interventions on your day?
How quickly can you shift between headspaces?
What do you need to focus?
How often do you discuss your plans and hopes?
If you must share your practice, what is the best form for you to do this in?
How do you work with silence?
How confidently can you say no?
Does this change depending on who you are saying it to?
How do you protect your time?
How can you speak honestly about the way events impact your energy and time?
If you listed your failures alongside your successes, would your confidence in your practice shift?
What is the budget of your whole career?
Have you considered yourself in these terms before?
How does whiteness show up in your practice?
How does it show up in tangible ways that you can adapt starting today?
Who holds you accountable?
Is it the dance community that interested you or other types of community?
Does the dance community exist or is it just a friendly way to say sector?
How do you spend and fill your time?
What does this tell you about your practice?
When do you prioritise yourself?
What work is outward facing and what is inward facing?
If you were able to work without and precarity or risk, what kind of work would you choose?
What are your boundaries around your own life situation?
Is the easiest way to maintain these to initiate your own projects?
Where is your joy? Where is your pleasure?
What would your dream community of practice look like?
How do you feel valid as a community dance artist?
What practices do you have for making others feel valid? Valued?
Do you seek long term relevance?
Do you seek short term validation?
When are you saying what people want to hear?
When is this helpful?
How do you feel about engaging with the requirements of the industry?
What practices do you have for navigating the industry?
How do you avoid stress in an adrenaline driven industry?
What practices do you have that can reshape and shift high paced expectations?
What daily rituals do you desire?
What generally makes you feel inspired and empowered?
What tools do you have for remaining inspired?
What tools do you have for leaving your comfort zone?
What support do you have for leaving your comfort zone?
How uncomfortable do you want to be today?

PRACTICE(S)
How do practice and research overlap?
Could you develop a community practice with only the artists here?
How do you create the necessary interruptions required to disrupt your thinking?
How do you create the necessary interventions to keep you questioning your work?
Is it important to keep asking question about the projects you have been or are in?
How are our tools integrated and embodied meaningfully?
How do we know when we have become detached from them?
Is your dance practice with you when you eat in a restaurant?
Do you want it to be?
What emergency tools do you have for when things don’t go to plan?
What emergency tools might you need for when things don’t go to plan?
What tools do you avoid developing? Why?
What tools do you have for liberating your own movement?
Are these the same tools that you use with communities?
Could you draw your practice as a physical score?
How might this be interpreted?
What interpretations would you hope for?
What kind of experiences would you like to have?
How might you make them happen?
What does developing a practice means to you?
How do you develop a community practice without people?
What do you really need from this time together?
What assumptions do you have of ‘development’? Who is it for? Is it personal?
Is development about celebrating a practice or fixing a practice?
What pressure do you feel in the idea of developing your practice?
How do you know how to develop a practice?
Who might you ask?
Who might know?
If you set your intention for moving, what happens next?
What are the edges of your practice?
In what ways have you tried someone else’s methods without adopting the depth of their practice?
What was the impact of this?
How do you stay true to your own development?
What tools do you rely on?
What tools do you aspire to use?
What tools do you have that bore you?
What is urgent? Useful? Interesting?
What might you want to let go of?
What do you have an awareness of?
An active use of?
Use as a form?
What are you inspired by?
What shows up passively in your practice?
What circumstances are you thrown in to?
How does your practice show up?
Wandering Conversation: how does it feel to have space to just listen?
What happens when you continue to speak past that which you are comfortable talking about?
How can the rhythm of your feet support your brain to process?
Is practice different from knowledge?
What tools do you have for being present in the moment?
What tools do you use for appearing present in the moment?
When are you absent in the moment?
What are the expectations of your attention?
What are your tools for drawing presence back to the space?
What would an archive of experiences look like?
What tools do you rely on?
What tools are you asked to replicate, that you are no longer interested in?
What kinds of practice(s) might you like to try that scare you a little?
What questions do you have about your own practice?
Do you need to understand how something is impacting your practice?
Do you always need an intention to develop your practice or is ‘doing’ enough?
How is the practice done through moving and not thinking?
How do I and should I keep my practice open to all? How do I work through the tensions of identity?’
Are practical practices practical?
Can You Teach Community Art?
How do we make floorwork meaningful for people who don’t find comfort in the floor?
What tools do we have for meeting our communities in the middle and deconstructing hierarchy in the room?
What does a quality practice look like?
Coherent? Live? Aware? Encouraging? Questioning? Humble? Collaborative? Streamlined?
What are you aware of in your practice?
What are you active in with your practice?
What form does your practice need to take?
What is your practice inspired by?
What appears passively in your practice?
What elements of your practice are thrust up you by circumstance?
What emergency tools do you need to develop that would make you more confident?
What tools do you need to free you up?
What tools do you have for translating – Movement? Language? Ideas?
What tools do you have for thinking?
Is development about celebrating what you do or fixing it?
What are the edges of your practice?
What happens when you use someone else’s practice as a method?
If you were to draw your practice as a score, what might it look like?
Where would the gaps be?
Where might it be busy?
Where might it be beautiful?
Practice: Using art as a way of being?
Practice: Loving the art in you?
What would a glossary of special tasks look like for those who wish to self-exclude?
What are your gentle practices? Essential practices? Procrastination practices?
Are you making on or making with people?
How much of your community practice is establishing relationships? Maintaining relationships?
How do we develop practice after such a time of crisis?
What tools do you need to face the daily challenge to stay open?

What tools do you have that are sacred?

Are there any tools that you don’t value because they are familiar to you?
Are they still important to you? Helpful?
What might you do to rediscover their value?

How do our words become tangible action?
What strategies do you have for this?
Are you a socially engaged dance artist or a socially engaged artist who happens to dance?Can you build total flexibility into your practice?
Would you want to?
A dancing conversation: how do you find the sensation of what you are discussing?
What can you share only through the body?
How is the landscape shaping your conversation?

CONTEXT
How do you create a loop when working with a community, so that the end of the project links to the beginning and creates space for something else?
If co-creation is a buzz word, why are we buzzing about it?
What new ideas do you have that interest you?
What feels urgent to you?
What is classed as a community practice in each country? 
What is our cultural, social understanding beyond dance and how do they relate?
What remains after the community project or event? Is it important to consider this?
Community work: whose culture is being shared? Theirs, yours, or both? For whom? 
Who gets to demand who is in the space? Just because you identify with a group, does it mean you can expect members of that group to show up?
What do you assume or imagine about those who make decisions?
What do you assume or imagine about the communities that you work with?
Why is this work relevant to the community you believe you serve?
Who sets the pace in collaboration?
When do you need to plan? Over plan?
How does planning impact your confidence and your flow?
Are you a maker looking for a cast of non-makers to work on?
Is community performance just work where some people don’t get paid? Cheaper?
What are the circumstances under which projects you are involved in are initiated?
How would you like the projects you are involved in to be initiated?
Are we meeting as bodies in space together?
Is it just a British thing that we expect our bodies to carry our clever heads around?
How do you know what you have to offer?
How do we transition from exclusive communities, dominated by the status quo to integrated communities which celebrate diversity?
What is quality in community dance practice?
Coherence? Liveness? Awareness? Curiosity? People feeling valued (including you)? Understanding? Collaboration? Connection? Streamlined Practices?
How do you step out of being the ‘step-giver’?
Space? Time? Resources? Thought? Care?
How can you work in a way where the end of a projects loops back to the beginning, offering space for new beginnings?
Are you interested in aesthetics, sensation or both when creating with communities?
What are they interested in?
If it differs, can you meet both agendas?
How much information do we believe we should have access to from those who have joined us?
If it is free does that mean it has value?
If it is free, does that overcome socio-economic barriers?
How might you work without a facilitator is the space?
Without taking the role of facilitator in the space?

NETWORK/ SUPPORT
Who is your sounding board?How do you cope with the nervousness that may arise from not knowing how a project will end?
Do you assume other dance artists will find their own practice more interesting than your own?
Where and with whom can you feel vulnerable about your practice?
Have you ever told anyone that you feel like you haven’t done a great job?!
Do you assume other dance artists would find their practice more interesting than your own?
Does your own practice interest you?
Do you have a nervousness around you peers? If so, why do you feel this is?
Are you peers essential to your work?
Does your community of practice have to be dance people?
Who else is crucial to the ecosystem that keeps you going?
What tools can you develop so that sharing early ideas or seeds of practice does not feel vulnerable?
What does it mean to share something that you have barely started?
How do other people achieve their aims?
What aims do you have? Soft aims? Quiet aims? Loud aims? Sharp aims? Urgent Aims?
Which conversations quickly become abstracted?
How do they stay based in reality, and experience?


COMMUNITY
What do we mean by Community – a knowledge of each other? A rotation of membership? An open door? Connecting through doing something together?
Are we building or growing Community?
Can community be closed?
Community is not friendship, but friendship can happen?
What do we mean by participation?
The term community offers less intimacy than other words, it feels more functional and necessary`
Community Work: A genre of work where some people are not getting paid?!
Do you have a community dance practice or do you have a socially engaged practice and just happen to be a dancer?
Can someone be kicked out of a community, or is this simple a redefinition of community boundaries?
What community boundaries does you practice seek to cross?
If you trace the timeline/ history of a community’s development with them, does this create space to dream better futures?
What do we do when a community member leaves? How do we know we have done our job well?
How big is a crowd?
What is the difference between a community and a creative community?
What communities exist within communities?
Is community sacred or is it just people doing things together?
Is it okay to leave a community?
What community do you have around your practice?
Who are you in community with?
What would it look like to show someone the communities that you are part of?
How do you stay with community and become more embedded in it as a way to develop practice, instead of coming out of it?
How do non-human elements impact and integrate into communities?

DANCE
Does the idea of dance training idea get in the way of allowing the social to bring a whole other idea of being a dancer?
What balance of aesthetic form and physical sensation do you wish the people you work with to have?
Can you share a project you have dreamed up and why you think it is important?
Does wanting to do it make important enough to pursue? For whom?

COMMUNICATION
Do we need definitions to help position ourselves?
Whose job is recruitment (and why is this a military term)? Is gathering different from recruitment?
Should gathering be an intrinsic part of the project design?
What do you think might impress people about your work? Your peers? Employers? Gatekeepers? The Communities You Engage With?
What impresses you?
Is having a media presence simply a game to play or is it part of your practice?
How do you transfer your practice to share on mediums that don’t reflect your values? Instagram? Tik Tok? Twitter? Facebook?
Do you have to have a media presence to be able to pursue the work you would like to?
Do the communities you are with desire you to have a media presence?
How do you talk about your career when you are not initiating the projects you are involved with?
How do you let people know how you would like to work?
How do you share your work if you do not want quotable words online?
How do you share your work if you do not desire an online profile?

INFRASTRUCTURE
How do we step out of the dance machine and the idea that we are there as a ‘movement giver’?
Space? Time? Resources? Thought? Care?
What parts of the work are you doing because you must?
What parts of the job do you choose?
What parts of the job would you like to do more?
Where would you be if you were not here?
What do you think you would be missing?
How do artists have agency within perceived structures of hierarchy?
Who is steering the artists development? Why?
When are you practicing and when are you fixing the limitations you have been offered?
What would working without any limitations looks like?
What does it mean to feel between organisations and communities?
How do you balance multiple ideas, agendas, and ideologies?
What tools do you require for this?
How do systems of power impact your work?
How much of your role is advocacy?
What is the budget of my whole career?
Where is the value?
What value do I add?
Where is the invisible labour?
How do you protect your time from other people’s agendas?
Applications – who are you writing these words for?
Do you say yes to any paid work?
What do you need to be able to say a confident no?
How do you balance your freelance practice with your creative practice?
How does community work relate to the current distribution of cultural capital?
How can it shift the distribution of cultural capital?
Are all community dance practitioners dealing with the same issues?
Should all ideas be realized?
Whose responsibility is it to make good ideas happen?
What about the good ideas that you are not the right person to deliver?
What do you do with them?
Is it possible to have a secure career without initiating your own projects?
What tools do you have for balancing necessity, survival, values, and practice?
Is it important to build an archive as a community dance artist?
Who is an archive for?

CREATING SPACE
How do you make space to let things emerge?
How do you create enough structure that you are not anticipating outcomes?                                  
What does integrity feel like? In your body, in the space and for those you work with?
When does hierarchy help a situation?
Is shared responsibility always what everyone wants?
What strategies do we have for short term community building?
Are temporary communities as relevant as long-term communities?
How can a facilitator support the creation of a safe space?
How can someone facilitate autonomy of community or artistic work?
How can facilitation be soft, reflective, and fluid?
Is it important to facilitate social relations or simply the work being done?
Time? Pace? Trust?
How do you know that a participant is experiencing enough?
How do you judge what it relevant to them?
Is intention enough if movement isn’t a familiar language?
How do we make the most of the space that we are in?
What does it mean to take an abstract form such as contemporary dance into a community who are not familiar with it and say that it matters?
How do you balance meaningful exchange with various interests?
How do you make space to not know what will happen?
Are you comfortable with not knowing how things will turn out?
What do you do when you are not explaining clearly enough?
Where is the space for the ideas of the community to grow and change?
Is there space for self-exclusion in the spaces you hold?
How can you use mindful exclusion as a tool for inclusion?
Who does this well?
Who can you learn from? What is this exchange?
What do we mean by a safe space?
What tools do we need to check if it is still safe?
What tools do we need for redefining our expectations of each other?
Who gets to set the social code in the space?
What social codes have been inherited?
What tools are needed to detangle ourselves from them?
How do we make the most of the space we are in?
What tools do you have for feeling clear when responding to the space?
How do you gather experiences in a consensual way?
How do you know a participant is experiencing enough?
How helpful are circles as a facilitation tool?
How do you cover the details you cannot see?
How can distribution of bodies make the space welcoming and balanced?
How do you make space to really listen as a facilitator?
How do you know when to push the people you are working with?
How do you know when to push yourself?

MISCELLANEOUS
Does your own practice (still) interest you?
What doesn’t exist in any of the conversations or questions so far?
Input, input, input. Output, output, output. Time to process?
Where are your opportunities to witness spaces of richness?  
How do you bank your learning when it is verbal and requires nuance?

CROWD
What were your hopes when you applied?
What were your hopes as you travelled here?
What are your hopes now that you have arrived?
What is at risk for you?
What do you need to feel safe?
What might you like to try out?
What might you like to discuss?
What might you need to do?
What would you like to know more about?
What is there that is not easily categorised?
Where might you be if you weren’t here now?
How do you decide which things to share?
What about the things you don’t notice?
What parts of each other do you feel you need to know? Is it about place and the communities in place?
Is it about the dance sector?
Is it about the artists developing their practice?
What are the public expectations of this?
What are the expectations we are pre-empting?
What if the artists just want to sleep for a month?

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