Friday, November 23, 2012

Jessie Flips: About Kingston

line up for Able Artists Forum
On November 21 and November 22 of 2012 I went to Kingston with Shara Weaver, Renata Soutter and Liz Winkelaar from Propeller and it was really fun. We went to present at the 2nd annual Able Artists Forum for artists with disabilities, hosted by H’Art in Kingston. We talked about Propeller and integrated contemporary dance.

I LOVE to stay in hotels
Both Shara and Renata got a drive with me and my mom to Kingston and we listened to Justin Hines’ music and we talked. And when we were in Kingston we stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn. It was so amazing. Shara and Renata were next door in room 310 and it was like they were our neighbors. Liz and David stayed with my mom and me in room 308.

Kingston Old City Hall
Then we went into the space where the forum was going to take place: in downtown Kingston at the City Hall. It is a really old building and just a walk/wheel away from our hotel. We took a look around and Renata talked to the tech person who was helping us about the CD that we were using and we looked to see if the ramp and the space was okay to dance in. Earlier that day we went over our speeches, and it went quite well. Then we went back to the hotel to rest before the show.
Shara, me, Renata checking out the space
Then we went back to the hotel to rest before the show.
I like to write to relax.

Shara was really, really tired! They just came back from Calgary before doing another performance in Ottawa and then driving to Kingston! She even put her pajamas on to rest! 
Some of the other artists who were there included a visual artist with a mental health disability (Don King from Different Strokes), a musician who is blind (Barbara MacDougall), the famous Justin Hines, who was very inspiring, and then 3 dance company/artists. So, as well as us, Propeller, there was Melissa Addison-Webster who is doing performance art in Toronto with people with physical disabilities and who are part of the deaf culture. She talked a little bit about how long it takes to create a piece and to make sure that everyone has the support they need to participate. She has lots of energy and is very creative!

Renata, Liz, Jessie rehearsing on the carpet
There was also Menka from des pieds des mains in MontrĂ©al. She talked about setting high professional standards and she showed two videos. One was a dance piece, and the other was interviews with the artists about being an artist. Some of her dancers and performers have Down syndrome. I met some of them last year and we went out for food and a beer after the show and we had a great time. It was great to hear other artists with Down syndrome speak. It was in French, but there were subtitles.   

That night after the presentations were over we socialized and talked with people. It was really fun and really exiting, I talked with Menka from Productions des Pieds Des Mains. In Montreal there is a post-secondary school for artists with intellectual disabilities. They work on drama, speech, music, and dance, and they get jobs in movies and theatre. I’d like to go there and to dance with Menka sometime. But I don’t speak french.

Another amazing moment was when we went out to tea with Melissa Addison-Webster with Renata, myself and my mom, my mom and I had a Veggie burger to share and it was really good. I even had a beer. Melissa Addison Webster is a performance artist. She is way talkative and she asked me lots of questions about my life and my boyfriend and we laughed a lot. That was fun.
Shara, me, Menke (back) then Liz and Melissa

Shara, Renata, me outside H'art
And another highlight about this trip was with H’art of Kingston On the last day we visited and went in and spoke to the students, but it wasn’t planned. I spoke about performing and teaching and advocacy. There were a lot of adults and students with Down syndrome and other disabilities there. They are all artists too. And there was a great idea: Shara and Liz thought it would be great if I went back next year to teach a workshop. We’ll work on that! So that’s a goal. My mom and I also want to go back to visit and to talk with Katherine Porter (she started H’Art) about IPSE, Inclusive Post Secondary Education. They have a program there with Queens University.

Now I have to go finish editing my talk for the transition fair on Saturday.


Jeannie said...

Hey Jessie, I live in Kingston and I saw you interviewed on TV. It looks like it was a great evening. Isn't that Memorial Hall room beautiful? I even went to a wedding there once.

H'Art School is a great organization too; we have many friends who participate in their programs. Hope you can come back to Kingston someday soon.

Cindy said...

Wow Jesse, great post. You guys were so busy, but it also looks like you had a lot of fun! It's very exciting that you'll be doing a workshop next year. Congratulations!

Jackie said...

It all sounds awesome!