Springboard Performance and the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society

The Cause

Springboard Performance and the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) want to make it possible for New Canadians to experience their stories on the stage. We will offer 200 free tickets for youth and families, to Akram Khan's Chotto Desh, an eloquent performance about migration and immigration realized by one of the best dance companies currently touring the world.

Dance and theatre can express the unexpressable, providing multiple ways to process, think, feel, and connect to personal and universal experiences. I remember going to a professional dance theatre performance in grade 2. It changed my life. I saw unfolding before my eyes, my stories, my fears, and my hopes, captured in the language of dance, the magic of performance, and the direct connection that music and storytelling can bring.

We want to give New Canadians this experience. Honouring stories of migration and immigration told through the eyes of a child, by one of the best dance companies touring the world today.

‘Chotto Desh’ is the first family show created by Akram Khan, one of Britain’s most respected choreographers and dancers and reworked from his Olivier Award-winning autobiographical show DESH. Bengali for ‘small homeland’, Chotto Desh tells a playful story of a boy who dreams of becoming a dancer, weaving together tales within tales of a son who rebels against the wishes of his father, and of a mythical child who angers the forest gods by collecting their forbidden honey. Featuring dream-like animations of elephants, crocodiles and swirling clouds of butterflies, as well as a hypnotic musical score composed by Jocelyn Pook, Cho Desh uses movement & storytelling to explore ideas of homeland and identity, our relationships with our parents and our need to forge an individual path through life, with athletic choreography and vibrant storytelling.

Arriving and settling in a new country is challenging. So much is experienced that can't be put in to words. Art can help articulate the myriad of emotions and offer a way to reflect on personal experience. Kids can say "Hey, that's my story!", and feel a deep connection and common bond that can give words, humour, and courage for embracing this experience.

Young people that are new Canadians need to experience their stories. They need to feel the magic of their stories told in a theatre. They need to feel the galvinizing energy realized by being with 550 audience members in a shared experience that honours their experiences.

Who Will it Benefit?

The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) is a non-profit organization committed to making immigration a positive experience for refugees, immigrants, and the surrounding community. CCIS works in partnership with the community to provide newcomers with the necessary support, training, and opportunities to successfully integrate into Canadian Society.

CCIS strongly believes that arts, culture, and recreation are key factors towards successful integration and a true sense of belonging. As a result, CCIS has partnered with a number of Arts organization and groups to offer arts based programming to our clients – not only as a method of creating a welcoming community, but also as a means of intervention. CCIS also sponsors an annual Newcomer Artist Award which was established to recognize and support an individual artist whose cultural background and recent arrival to Canada present barriers and challenges towards the pursuit of their artistic work.

Since 2012 CCIS has partnered with Green Fools Theatre to offer a Social Circus Camp for Newcomer children and youth. This opportunity has allowed our client families to participate in a very deliberate approach towards pro social engagement and reduced social isolation as a necessary bridge, and immediate need to positive settlement and integration. Social Circus engages children and youth through the novelty and creativity of circus activities to lead participants to the development of self esteem, trust, and social emotional learning. Social Circus leads to a sense of community because it is based on relationships that rely on collective participation. The Social Circus was used as an ongoing intervention during the recent influx of Syrian Refugees in 2016, and the changes went from beyond self esteem and trust to actual school readiness for children and youth.

As the largest Immigrant Serving Agency in the Prairies, CCIS sees more than 10,000 clients pass through our doors each year. Through our Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) program, we have consistent groups of students, at all levels of English language learning, that would serve as a prime audience for this show, having lived their own migration experience. Incorporating a study pack into the curriculum of our existing LINC programs would result in a more meaningful experience that could also translate into a means of sharing their personal stories with their own children.