I went to talk about DaDaFest as part of a British Council Seminar which was the culmination of Unlimited:Making the Right Moves a three year project which, building on the success of Candoco’s work and artist training, aimed to establish the first inclusive Theatre and Dance group in the country and advocate for changes in policy in order to make arts provision more accessible to disabled people in Armenia and link the project with similar work happening in Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
It was a whirlwind visit and pretty full, with the first appointment was at Armenia Public TV for a short interview alongside Arevik Saribekyan, Director of the Armenian British Council, we spoke about the Seminar and project, DaDaFest and the Social Model of Disability and the performances by Candoco that evening.
I attended the Candoco performance which began with a short extract from a longer piece by the new integrated company based at The Small Theatre in Yerevan and was followed by a Q&A session for around 80 people stayed. It was great to see the range of people in the audience from students and arts professionals to families and couples, all clearly impressed with the work too.
The following day I joined a panel including, Stine Nielsen, Candoco’s Artistic Director, and Joel Brown one of the dancers, Vahan Badalyan, Director of Yerevan’s Small Theatre and Arevik Saribekyan to talk from different perspectives about disability arts and inclusive practice. It was very interesting to hear about the work that is happening in the country and share some of what we do at DaDafest with a wider audience.
I went back to the theatre on the second night and saw the Candoco performances again and was very pleased I did, not only was I able to see the work from a different angle in the auditorium – which made a huge difference in terms of appreciating the choreography staging, but it was also great to see an even larger audience enjoying the performance, so much so that the company received a standing ovation at the end of the evening – fitting for the final night of their four country tour.
I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to go to a country I’d never thought I’d be able to visit and I hope that I managed to make a good impression and some good connections for DaDaFest in the near future. Looking forward to talking more with potential partners and seeing what we can make happen!”