Thursday, June 11, 2009

Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process

Choreographer Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process is a widely used method for responding to artists' work and a great tool to introduce to students.

The Process engages participants in three roles:

The artist offers a work-in-progress for review and feels prepared to question that work in a dialogue with other people;

Responders, committed to the artist’s intent to make excellent work, offer reactions to the work in a dialogue with the artist; and

The facilitator initiates each step, keeps the process on track, and works to help the artist and responders use the Process to frame useful questions and responses.

The Critical Response Process takes place after a presentation of artistic work. Work can be short or long, large or small, and at any stage in its development. The facilitator then leads the artist and responders through four steps:

  1. Statements of Meaning: Responders state what was meaningful, evocative, interesting, exciting, striking in the work they have just witnessed.
  2. Artist as Questioner: The artist asks questions about the work. After each question, the responders answer. Responders may express opinions if they are in direct response to the question asked and do not contain suggestions for changes.
  3. Neutral Questions: Responders ask neutral questions about the work. The artist responds. Questions are neutral when they do not have an opinion couched in them. For example, if you are discussing the lighting of a scene, “Why was it so dark?” is not a neutral question. “What ideas guided your choices about lighting?” is.
  4. Opinion Time: Responders state opinions, subject to permission from the artist. The usual form is “I have an opinion about ______, would you like to hear it?” The artist has the option to decline opinions for any reason.

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