Training with Ensemble, a journey to meet myself.


Mei JiaoYin is a  PhD candidate in “Theory and Research in Education”, at The University of Roma Tre, Italy. Her first 20 years of life were in Hangzhou, China, where she studied “Art Education” in Zhejiang Normal University. For the last ten years she has been living in Italy and teaching creativity dance. Mei recently attended one of DUENDE’s training & performance residencies and is now at The DUENDE School for just the first two weeks of the course, before returning to Italy to complete her PhD.

I started to observe my state of body, emotion and movement, without judgment, just simply observe all that is there: fear, qualities and aliveness.

I accept everything that appears though observation, just like an adventure, I don’t know where it will take me, but every moment is so exciting to explore myself. For example, these days in the Ball Game, I notice my body when I react in the moment of catching the ball: breathing becomes rapid, toes grip the earth, sometimes I try to beat the ball. By simply observing the body I can connect with my fear and it is interesting to play with fear. When is the next ball coming? I just focus on my breathing, and a new feeling comes, that moment is so wonderful! This experience gives me the opportunity to discover myself.

Here is another surprise I get from this training — deeply understanding the question of my PhD thesis, “Why does using performing arts in education have a beneficial effect on learning?” I find an answer in relationship to John Dewey’s Transactional Constructivism and Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory.

For John Dewey, education is learning by experience. Here ‘experience’ refers to the transaction of human beings with their environment. In his Transactional Constructivism  he writes:

The stimulus is something ‘to be discovered’ … A stimulus is always a change in the environment which is connected with a change in activity …Stimulus and response are not external to the act, but are always inside a coordination …perception are constructed in the organism– environment transaction…’ [1]

What we did in these days let me get in touch with this theory. For example, in the Ball Game our aim is not to get as many balls as we can, but to put our attention to the process, stimulus-impulse-response (which is, according to Grotowski, the ‘the whole secret’)[2].

Teacher, as an architect constructing an environment, lets us discover the response from stimulus through our perception. In that environment, the student starts to choose what they really want and need to explore. For example, when the ball is coming, I start to notice that moment between impulse and response: immediately I choose what I really want, what I need (there are thousands possible responses to explore).  Every second is fresh!

This work lets me feel alive and full of pleasure, maybe this is the state of flow, where there is no truth and falsity, just active presence.


Works Cited:

[1] Raf V. (2002). ‘Dewey’s Transactional Constructivism’ in Journal of Philosophy of Education’, Vol. 36, No. 2.

[2]Grotowski, J. (2002). Towards a Poor Theatre, Routledge: New York, 2002: 225