Conservatoires, schools, and universities are often loaded with expectations: skills, mastery, competition, qualifications. In deconstructing this “old-conservatory-thinking” we ask: how can we overcome concepts of mastery? How can we un-learn how to learn? ow can we create an awareness for making self-determined connections between practice and (individual, social, political) context? While focusing on the following parameters, we propose a shift to research as a process, in which the abilities of students and future artists can unfold: 


1. Whole person

Strengthening bodily perception as a moment of reflection and as a research technique, offers a view on researchers not only as bodies of knowledges and skills but as well as human beings. How am I doing in the learning formats proposed? In which settings and group constellations am I open and willing to transgress my own habits and to go personal? What would I like to change? 


2. Failures 

While setting up the formats and rhythms of the different teaching units, we considered our planning only as a skeleton, in which the concrete experiential and embodied doings and sayings of the participants can develop. In this open but not loose concept, failures are not seen as something that should be avoided but rather as thick and rich experience in the process of discovery of the known and the unknown. Failures are not seen as something wrong but as a welcome variation of an already known idea of a sound or a movement. As Bell Hooks points out clearly: 

“When everyone in the classroom, teacher and students, recognizes that they are responsible for creating a learning community together, learning is at its most meaningful and useful. In such a community of learning there is no failure. Everyone is participating and sharing whatever resource is needed at a given moment in time to ensure that we leave the classroom knowing that critical thinking empowers us.” (Bell Hooks, Teaching Critical Thinking, 2010, 11)


3. Intuition

Artistic research offers possibilities to get closer to intuitive and implicit knowledge structures, which are often hidden and as sociologists would call it “under closure”. In this Lab about embodied reflection practices, we encourage a perspective on intuition that describes its discovery not as something random but as systematically approachable. The Lab offers multisensory methods towards hidden assumptions, artist researchers have not been aware of: Sensing space (Workshop part 1), taste and smell as research categories (Workshop part 2) and embodied knowledge (workshop part 3). In this sense intuitive knowledge can be considered as deeply grounded in trained sensory practices, which can be researched in and on through explicit methods. 


4. Trust

Maybe it is all about trust and learning to trust?


5. Flat hierarchies: One community of practice 

One of the core decisions of the Lab faculty was to create one common community of practice with students and teachers. There were classroom situations where teachers showed their expertise and led workshops, but most of the time all members (teachers and students) were invited to experiment on new learning settings, which were unfamiliar for all of us. 

We decided that teachers and students should work together in one community of practice, while being aware of how difficult it is to implement flat hierarchies and how easily they come back in a subversive way. Our ethos was that trying out new learning settings can only work, if we consider us all as a learning community and leave our comfort zone. For this it is not sufficient to let the students act, and for the teachers look from the back of the classroom at the “guinea pigs”. 

In focusing on the awareness of our body and asking how our body is leading our reflections, we invited the participants to lose their own comfort zone and their own daily routine: How far can we let ourselves go from our own practice but still stay in touch with it? 

We created intense and trustful situations of learning in different learning environments: We had been in public, in public spaces like the Cologne Cathedral, the Cologne train station, in a rehearsal room of the centre for early music, in our department in Wuppertal and of course in the dance studio. 

And we designed settings in which each participant has time. Time is one of the crucial parameters we were dealing with: it allows us to get into deep contact with new practices and into collaborations with the others. Following Donna Haraway’s concept of “practices of companions” (Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene, 2016, 10f), in which the original meaning of the Latin “cum-pane” is in the centre – of breaking and having bread together – we created time frames for letting these companionships emerge among the participants, between their stories, practices and materials.