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Tracing the city-parkour training, play and the practice of collaborative learning


O'Grady, A.



Theatre, Dance and Performance Training

Tipo de publicación

Artículo de revista



Palabras clave

underground culture, play, social engagement, interaction, applied performance


The article examines how parkour training is constructed and transmitted amongst localised peer groups known as ‘traceurs’. It concentrates on training practices that develop as a result of peer interaction in open, public spaces rather than formal training sessions that take place within a gym or as part of a regulated coaching programme. Drawing on extended interview material from a range of parkour practitioners with varying levels of experience and expertise, the article investigates the traceur's perspective on group training and how this relates to cognition and processes of learning. Using traceurs' own reflections the research will identify how physical obstacles, mental challenges, fear and risk are handled through repeated actions that then result in deeply embedded somatic responses to the built environment. The repertoire of moves that is shared between traceurs offers a patterned way of learning that, in turn, provides a route to embodied knowing. The research demonstrates how group training sessions in parkour can be conceived as collaborative learning and how that relates to theories of social learning (Bandura 1977, Lave 2009, Wenger 1998). The article argues that the efficacy of play as an approach to training provides a vehicle for active learning that chimes with the utilitarian aspect of parkour practice where to know and overcome obstacles represents the knowing and attainment of freedom.


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