York to host largest academic conference in Canada on children, youth and performing arts

York University will host the largest academic conference in Canada focusing on children, youth and the performing arts from June 25 to 27, when researchers, performers, educators, artists, practitioners and community organizers convene online for an exchange of knowledge.

Abigail Shabtay

Abigail Shabtay

The annual Children, Youth and Performance Conference is run by Abigail Shabtay, assistant professor in York’s Children, Childhood and Youth program, Department of Humanities, in partnership with Young People’s Theatre. It is a peer-reviewed conference that puts performance research to work and examines its effects on the lives of young people.

Through a range of informative and interactive sessions, participants will discuss the future applications and implications of performance work with, by, for, and about children and youth. Previously held in person, this year’s conference will be held online with more than 250 participants across 22 different countries. Sessions include interactive workshops, panels, project snapshots, performance excerpts and special talks.

“We are thrilled to have so much interest in the conference this year,” says Shabtay. “There is a wide range of presentation styles, including experiential components for those who want to engage actively, performances, panels and talks, as well as networking and collaboration opportunities.”

Special invited guests include Naila Keleta-Mae, an award-winning poet, recording artist and playwright, and specialist in race, gender and performance in Canada; Urvashi Sahni, a leading children’s rights and drama education advocate in India; and Lauren Gunderson, one of the most produced playwrights in North America since 2015, among others.

There will be unique interactive workshops that attendees can participate in, including:

  • a Land Acknowledgement Workshop by Lindy Kinoshameg (Young People's Theatre) to help attendees engage more respectfully and meaningfully in acknowledging the land on which they are living and/or working;
  • a Narrative Racial Identity Workshop by Vincente Perez (UC Berkeley) that offers tools to analyze dominant narratives around race and racialization, and engage in self-reflexive pedagogy;
  • a dance-focused workshop by Tashara Gavin-Moorehead (Independent Artist) exploring several dances as they relate to African diaspora history in America;
  • a guided audio tour by a group of international presenters to examine everyday resources through the lens of colonization; and
  • workshops on digital storytelling, trauma-informed practices, creating a culture of consent in performance settings, research and pedagogical methods.

“As a graduating student in the Children, Childhood and Youth program, I am so excited that this conference offers a unique opportunity to connect with people around the world and to explore topics on children, youth and performance beyond the classroom,” says Katelyn Conferido, a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Children, Childhood and Youth program.

Numerous members of the York community will present their work at the conference, including Kym Bird, Karen Cyrus, Alireza Gorgani, Kira Meyers-Guiden, Anna Lippman, Emma Litschko, Thomas O’Hanley, Kate Reid, Daniel Roldan, Lisa Sandlos and Marta Shpak.

"The Children, Youth and Performance Conference brings together researchers, practitioners, educators and artists from all around the world. I am so excited to be a part of this conference,” says Tita Kyrtsakas, PhD student in the English department.

The conference has received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, as well as support within York University from: the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Registration is open, and those interested in participating can register online at: eventbrite.ca/e/children-youth-and-performance-conference-2021-tickets-139078971949?ref=estw.

For more information, visit the event page: facebook.com/CYPConference.

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