For the second week of the Songs and Stories of Migration and Encounter workshops we were excited to have Dr. Heather Fitzsimmons-Frey visiting from Toronto. Dr. Fitzsimmons- Frey is a Banting Post- Doctoral Fellow at York University. Heathers research is focused towards performance histories, dance, gender and youth. Her expertise helped us connect the youth through choreograph exercises and facilitate the elder talks throughout the week. Dr. Fitzsimmons-Frey joined us for each workshop.
In Menelik Hall the youth welcomed two university students from CBU’s Applied Theatre program, who will be joining them for the remainder of the workshops. The workshop content consisted of some theatre and movement exercises and some fantastic conversation with four elders from the community.
The Workshop in Cheticamp was set up on the main stage of the Theatre of the Conseil des Arts de Chéticamp to focus on choreographic experimentations. Co-facilitator Thomas Colford had the youth mixing acadian step dancing with body percussions. Instead of an elder talk this week, we had the honour of listening to the legendary Acadian musical and theatre author Paul Gallant perform. By the end of the workshop Paul very generously offered to help out in our next workshops playing the guitar.
On Thursday at Étoile de l’Acadie French participants were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to listen to the Centre’s director Lisa Berthier. Lisa spoke about her own migration experiences in Canada.
In Membertou participants and facilitators gathered in the Elders room along with three CBU students from the applied theatre program and indigenous elder, Jeff Ward – who is the General Manager of the Heritage Park. During the initial talking circle the elders told stories and shared their knowledge with us. Following the chat, Heather and Thomas led some activities to help everyone to get to know each other better. Ending the workshop, we did our first music jam session where we sang songs, danced and had an all-around good time.
This second week of workshops was full of amazing stories and ideas. We heard many local stories about migrating to Canada and shared in the wisdom of our elders that will help build the structure of our performance pieces. The youth also got their first taste of the creative process that they will pursue in the coming weeks of workshops.