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Practice, theory and reflection: An examination of writing in performance training and research

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This article focuses on my own practice and experience of teaching in the performing arts to examine how reflection could be used as a tool for facilitating learning in a way that does not construct practice and theory as distinct or opposing binaries. In it I argue that the superficial nature of the boundary between practice and theory often traps creative and performing arts students in a mindset that militates against critical and analytic writing as they struggle to make connections between their studio practice and wider theoretical contexts. Consequently, the article draws primarily on Maziar Raein's argument for a 'cohesive framework for knowledge' that recognizes the inter-relatedness of theory and practice in knowledge formation to argue that practice and theory operate along a continuum of knowledge. The article equally considers Paul Kleiman's argument about the centrality of the creative process in bridging the perceived gap between practice and theory within the creative and performing arts. Finally, I discuss the use of 'reflective breaks' in my teaching on the performing arts programme at Swansea Metropolitan University as a way of deconstructing the artificial boundaries between practice and theory.

Keywords: continuum of knowledge; creative process; performing arts; practice; practice as research; reflection; theory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Swansea Metropolitan University

Publication date: December 22, 2011

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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