Able Artists: Talk by Menka Nagrani & Screening of Eurêka

May 3, 2018 | Able Artists, H'art Events - 2018


H’art Centre’s Able Artists series is pleased to be sponsoring a talk and film screening by Menka Nagrani, founder and choreographer of Montreal’s Les Productions des pieds des mains at the upcoming Canadian Association of Theatre Research 2018 conference to be held at the Isabel Bader Centre this May.

The Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) is a non-profit organization founded in 1976 to support and encourage research in theatre and performance studies in Canada, with a special interest in Canadian work.

Sponsored by H’art Centre
Presented by Menka Nagrani

After 20 years of teaching dance, movement and theatre to artists with intellectual disabilities, Menka Nagrani has developed an array of pedagogical methods aimed at readying these performers for the professional stage. In 2004, Nagrani launched Les Productions des Pieds des Mains as a dance and theatre company that integrates an atypical cast of dancers and actors in its creations, including many of her students. They take an interdisciplinary approach to their performances, which are at the crossroads between contemporary dance and experimental theatre. Though they sometimes appear in venues specifically for disabled artists, their creations are mainly featured in an artistic context unrelated to disabilities, such as within the regular programming of professional theatres and dance or theatre festivals in Montreal and internationally (France, Belgium and Japan). In her view, her role as director and choreographer is to ensure that performers shine on stage by playing a part that brings out their best, whether disabled or non-disabled. In submitting their pieces to the same competitions as companies without artists with intellectual disabilities, they are required to meet the same selection criteria as any other production company. She always welcomes criticism from the audience or journalists regarding the performances they put on with Les Productions des pieds des mains, and encourages them not to censor themselves just because they integrate people with a disability in their creations.

Thanks to the company’s numerous successful shows and international acclaim, Nagrani is regularly invited to give workshops and master classes to other mixed ability groups or integrated dance companies at home and abroad. Unfortunately, the low level of technique on display often strikes her, and she is surprised that more technical classes have not been developed for these artists whose end goal is to perform on stage in a professional capacity.

When forming atypical artists, she sets out with the idea that producers interested in working with her students will find ways to build upon their strengths and particularities, just as she does in her productions. She tries to give them as many tools as she can so that they may be in a position to meet a director or choreographer’s needs in the best way possible. Her goal is that they maintain a level of precision and, above all, that they be present and engaged in everything they perform on stage. It all boils down to the idea that, although we will be providing adapted support and tools to develop their artistic abilities, we have the same requirements of artists with an intellectual disability as we would of any other artist.

In this talk, Nagrani will highlight some of her approaches and techniques used in forming atypical artists. In doing so, she hopes to lift the horizon for her peers in this domain and to show that, with enough hard work and dedication, you can accomplish more than you might expect.

Eurêka, the short film

In order to demonstrate the breadth of her work with Les Productions des pieds des mains, Nagrani and her team of artists will present a short artistic dance film,Eurêka, which is currently touring film festivals around the world. The film was created with three star artists, all of whom have Down Syndrome, and a cast of 20 extras who also have Down Syndrome.
Registration details

Able Artists has sponsored this session to bring Menka Nagrani and Eurêka to Kingston to introduce scholars, students, and theatre professionals from around the world to work being done in inclusive dance-theatre. Although this is an event for CATR members, we are happy to share that as part of a new initiative in 2018, CATR welcomes Kingstonians to participate in conference activities as “local observers.” Members of the Queen’s community (staff, students, and faculty), as well as Kingston artists, theatre-makers, dancers, musicians, and educators at all levels are all welcome and encouraged to attend. This special initiative permits you to register for the conference without being required to join the association as a member.


Community Pricing Registration Fee
The registration fee is $25/day or $100/for all 4 days of the conference.*
*These fees are charged to cover the cost, per attendee, for lunch, coffee and cookies.

To register, follow the information on the CATR 2018 conference registration page, found here.

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