On being current; ISTA presents at key international conferences

18 July 2022

by Dinos Aristidou

The work we do at ISTA in the field of global learning through theatre strives to both contribute to and influence learning and teaching in the arts. With this in mind, it’s important to us to work in collaboration with organisations that bring us into contact with new ideas and innovative approaches. Presenting at international conferences gives us the wonderful opportunity to share our practice, learn from others, forge new collaborations and position ourselves as a key organisation in the field of arts education.

June 2022 – Service and Partnerships Conference

In June, we presented at a Service and Partnerships Conference at Sevenoaks School in the UK, sharing strategies for reflective practice and learning about different models of service learning to inform our CONNECT programme which is under review.

Figure 1 photo credit: Sevenoaks School Service and Partnerships Conference.

July 2022 – Dancing into Communities Conference

And along with our own presentations – international conferences also provide a fantastic opportunity for our community to share about ISTA as well. Recently ISTA artist and member teacher Juliette O’Brien presented her paper Devising Dance: Creativity and Collaboration Using the ISTA Model virtually at the Dance and the Child: International Dancing into Communities Conference. Juliette spoke about creative play being a community-creator and boundary-breaker. She specifically focused her paper on the ISTA festival model which enables young people from different cultures to meet and create performance work together, while forging strong and lasting friendships. She speaks that when young people of diverse backgrounds come together to create dance in a way that respects individual ideas and ways of moving, and nurtures openness to those of others, they also co-create community. Through a collaborative process and creative problem solving, they are able to share their voices individually and as one.

August 2022 – Leadership Exchange in Arts Disability (LEAD) Conference

In August we have been invited to present at the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) conference in Raleigh, North Carolina in the USA. This is organised by the VSA, part of the Kennedy Centre, a programme that advances the full inclusion of people with disabilities in arts and culture. LEAD provides an opportunity for professionals in the field to develop best practices and resources and to engage in conversations with experts from around the world on the design of inclusive experiences.

ISTA has been invited to co-present with Lloyd Coleman, a composer, clarinettist and Associate Music Director of the Paraorchestra, an integrated ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians based in the UK. The title of our presentation is Theatre as Inclusive Practice: Approaches to Empowering Blind and Partially Sighted Young People. This also heralds the beginnings of a collaboration with UCAN Productions in Wales, UK exploring how ISTA can develop work with disabled artists and young people.

Inclusivity and access are key to the development of our work in the future and we’re excited to be working with organisations that specialise in this area.

Figure 2 photo credit: The Kennedy Center

October 2022 – Future of Tomorrow: Continuous Learning, Infinite Possibilities! Conference

In October we’re attending and presenting at the Future of Tomorrow: Continuous Learning, Infinite Possibilities! conference of the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators (CODE) in Canada. The conference focuses on ‘exploring how drama and dance education presents exciting opportunities to name, identify, unpack, learn about, and seek action to respond to systemic racism, discrimination, and other forms of oppression’. We will be sharing our approaches to global learning through theatre as well as looking to develop our new festival model which now focusses on story-based inquiry.

Figure 3 photo credit: Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators (CODE)

We’re so excited to be presenting our work at these events. It ensures that ISTA is recognised globally as an organisation that can contribute to arts education as well as offering us the opportunity to engage with the most current thinking around areas that matter to us and to our community.

Figure 1: Photo of Dinos Arisitidou presenting 2022, digital photograph, Sevenoaks School, accessed 16 July 2022, <http://www.aeraweb.org/khufu_quarry.asp>

Figure 2: Photo and introduction to LEAD Conference 2022, digital photograph, Kennedy Center, accessed 16 July 2022, <https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/networks-conferences-and-research/conferences-and-events/lead-conference>

Figure 3: Photo of logo for Future of Tomorrow: Continuous Learning, Infinite Possibilities! conference 2022, digital photograph, Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators (CODE), accessed 16 July 2022, <https://codeconference.ca/>