Dance WorkshopsLes Productions des pieds des mains
The dance workshops offered by Les Productions des pieds des mains are led by four of the dance theatre company’s artists, two of whom have an intellectual disability. Each session begins with the performance of a dance duet, followed by a practical introduction to dance theatre in the form of a workshop led by Menka Nagrani, who is assisted by a musician. The best practice involves the development of a dance workshop aimed specifically at immigrants in order to help them better understand the values at the heart of Canadian identity, especially tolerance for others, inclusiveness and opposition to discrimination of all kinds.
Menka Nagrani has given more than 200 practical workshops and talks on the company’s unique mission to CEGEPs, high schools and community groups, as well as physiotherapists, educators and dance instructors interested in its integration-based approach. Menka has become an internationally renowned expert with respect to involving people with disabilities in artistic activities.
Given the positive results obtained with the workshops in terms of raising awareness, we thought it would be worth expanding and diversifying the target audience by offering our workshops to immigrants as well. The goal is to help them better understand Canada’s inclusive values and to benefit them by supporting the fight against discrimination.
Since 2010, Les Productions des pieds des mains has developed its expertise in giving dance workshops by running around 30 each year. It is able to adapt these workshops to a variety of audiences: elementary schools, high schools, universities, community groups (groups of people with disabilities) or mixed groups.
Making a Difference:
The implementation of this initiative will generate greater visibility and new interest in our company, whose mission involves the integration of not just people with disabilities but of marginalized people in general. We are dedicated to promoting diversity in the arts sector because we believe that diversity is enriching. Discovering our best practices through the workshops, which provide a practical and unusual example of integration, will help new arrivals in our country to recognize that integration and inclusion are fundamental Canadian values.
Les Productions des pieds des mains does not receive any administrative support or operating funds, which makes it more difficult to pursue the company’s projects and puts it in a highly precarious situation. It has to apply for grants for each project.
Vision for the Future:
We intend to move forward with this initiative by running a pilot project and mounting a production with a group of people from diverse backgrounds, with the help of translators, in order to build links between communities.
The art of dance is an ideal vehicle for promoting inclusion, since it presents no linguistic barriers and few cultural barriers. The workshops that we offer are even more effective since they prove that dance is accessible even to people with severe intellectual disabilities—a fact which can also provide hope to people who have suffered from racial discrimination. We are convinced that our work in the arts sector to raise awareness about people with disabilities’ right to pursue an artistic career is relevant to the issue of fighting racism, because in both cases the objective is the same: to promote integration and diversity in the professional arts world.
A non-profit organization founded in 2004 by choreographer Menka Nagrani, Les Productions des pieds des mains is a Montreal dance theatre company that produces socially committed shows featuring well-known actors and dancers as well as atypically cast performers, with a view to provoking thought about artistic and social issues. In 2012, Menka Nagrani received an award from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (Quebec Arts and Letters Council) for her overall artistic achievements, and in 2015, she was honoured with an award from the Commission des droits de la personnes et de la jeunesse (Human Rights and Youth Commission) for her exemplary work in supporting the rights of people with disabilities to pursue an artistic career.