Past Forward Thematic Questions

The proposal should  explore expansive definitions and notions of ensemble practice and collaborative creation in relation to one of following three core themes. The following questions are provided to help tease out each theme, and may spark your thinking around possible session topics to propose.

     1)  TRADITIONS & AESTHETICS

  • What are the multiple traditions and aesthetics of the ensemble movement?
  • How does ensemble practice and collaborative creation manifest in similar and different ways through various traditions and aesthetics? Does the legacy of ensemble or collective creation reflect differently through ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American) and LGBTQ+ traditions and cultural practices?
  • Is there a relationship between indigenous practice and ensemble practice?
  • What would it look like to trace the multiple traditions, aesthetics, and artistic lineage(s) of the ensemble movement?
  • How do past and present definitions and notions about ensemble include or exclude these multiple traditions and aesthetics?
  • How do we preserve and pass on our collective legacy? How do we honor and highlight the work and stories of our ensemble elders and artistic forebears?
  • What role do training programs play in the creation, preservation, definitions, perceived value, and notions of the multiple traditions, aesthetics, and artistic lineage(s) in ensemble practice?
  • Within the larger performance field, what role do ensembles play in terms of artistic inquiry, experimentation, and innovation? What are some examples?
  • Is organizing a company as an ensemble, or creating work through ensemble practice and processes, an inherently political choice?
  • Where do our different traditions and aesthetics share values, perspectives, and processes...and where do we diverge?
  • Is there a shared, expansive definition and notion of “ensemble practice” that we might agree on across the multiplicity of our traditions and aesthetics?

       ​2) FORMS & DISCIPLINES

  • How does ensemble practice and collaborative creation manifest in various artistic/cultural forms and disciplines?
  • How are different forms and disciplines intermingling and cross-pollinating?
  • Are there aspects of cross-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and/or inter-disciplinary ways of working that are specific to ensemble practice, or enhanced by it?
  • What role do training programs play in the creation, preservation, definitions, and notions of forms and disciplines in ensemble practice?
  • Within the larger performance field, what role do ensembles play in terms of experimentation and innovation with form and discipline? What are some examples
  • What new forms, disciplines, and/or processes are emerging due to technology? How is technology informing ensemble-created work?
  • How are ensemble artists from different forms or disciplines expanding their practices and aesthetics through collaboration with and exposure to each other?
  • Is the practice of categorizing companies, artists, and their work according to distinct forms or disciplines important and valuable, or outdated and irrelevant?
  • Is there a shared, expansive definition and notion of “ensemble practice” that we might agree on across the multiplicity of our artistic forms and disciplines?

​       3) APPLICATIONS & USES

  • What are, and have been, the multiple applications and uses of ensemble practice and collaborative creation, both within and outside of the arts?
  • How are ensemble artists and practitioners engaging in civic and social practice or collaborating with non-arts-sector/community partners currently, and what are some examples? How has this changed over time, and how might it evolve going forward?
  • What role do training programs play in the creation, preservation, definitions, and perceived value of the applications and uses of ensemble practice and collaborative creation?
  • What is the relationship between ensemble practice and collaborative creation in the arts, and collective action and movement building for social justice...and what might it be?
  • What is the role as ensemble artists and practitioners in the current political and cultural moment?
  • Is there a shared, expansive definition and notion of “ensemble practice” that we might agree on across the multiplicity of its applications and uses?
  • Is there a shared, expansive definition and notion of “applied ensemble practice” that we might agree on?

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