Performer as Reflective Practitioner

The Problem

Learning disciplines that have a physical performance component often involve a process of cumulative reflection and practice where you continuously evaluate, research and improve what you do. In dance for example, a student’s every move is observed, developed and reflected on as they perform. Relating this to the way their body works, how a movement is initiated and coordinated and how to communicate the intention of movement is complex.

The Context

Preparing for physical performance (for example, as a dancer, actor or sports person) requires reflective thought – a continuing evaluation and re-evaluation of your work as a practitioner. The performance is an opportunity for the performer to communicate a host of signifiers such as mood, colour, kinaesthetic intent and ‘flow’ to an audience as in artistic practice or optimal or precise movement as in sports. Always present is the motivation that each movement, every component of the expressive dialogue can be improved to refine the conveying of the movement’s intent. Smaller discrete reflections are made across time and space until the moment when the final performance is presented. This can be viewed as an interconnected series of ‘Action Research Spiral Cycles’ (Kemmis & Wilkinson, 1998).

The Pattern

  1. Select a specific component of a physical performance in which your students need improvement. This is the process of choosing a critical incident.
  2. Get students to start to observe this movement or sequence of movements by deconstructing what it is that they are actually doing. This involves the process of refining self-awareness (Feldenkrais, 1980). It also focuses their attention on how their body works together as a whole and what impact their actions have on their body’s ability.
  3. Ask students to reflect on the elements of the movement that they know they can improve. Students are encouraged to use intrinsic motivation – ‘look inside themselves’ and self-determination theory (take the responsibility for their own learning and development). Awareness of approaches for working on the improvement may come from the teacher, choreographer, professionals, peers, video feedback, literature and/or the student’s own developing knowledge of self.
  4. Encourage students to ask the questions: What did I do that was different? How did it feel? How did I do it differently? What was the outcome? (Often this is shown through demonstration.) (see Resource 1).
  5. Prompt the students: Show me what you did. Tell me how that felt. Describe the differences in your perceptions. (It is likely to be different for each person. There is no common template as we are all unique.)

Related Patterns

Reflections Around Artefacts (RAA)
Second Order Reflections (SOR)
Reflections About Performance (RAP)



The 4Rs model as applied in Dance


Atweh, B., Kemmis, S. & Weeks, P. (Eds.) (1998). Action research in practice. London: Routledge.
Feldenkrais, M. (1980). Awareness through movement.Feldenkrais, M. (1981). The elusive obvious. California: Meta Publications.
kakisky (2010). RightPoint.jpg [Image]. Morguefile. Retrieved October 7, 2011 from
Kemmis, S. & Wilkinson, M. (1998). Participatory action research and the study of practice. In Atweh, B., Kemmis, S. & Weeks, P. (Eds.) (1998). Action research in practice. London: Routledge.
Schon, D. (1984). The reflective practitioner. New York, USA: Basic Books, Harper Colophon.


This pattern was initiated by Evan Jones (Dance, Creative Industries).