ISN Nice and Arts International: 'Finding My Voice' Workshop

ISN Nice and Arts International: 'Finding My Voice' Workshop
Jennifer Wallace
students music session with arts international

ISN Nice was thrilled to host Arts International for the first workshop of our partnership from January 31st to February 4th 2022. The theme of the week was ‘Finding My Voice’, and our Grade 5 and Grade 8 students worked alongside Award-Winning Comedy writer Georgie Fuller, and Public Speaking/Workshop specialist James Westphal, two artists in residence with Arts International.

All Arts International workshops focus on Globeducate’s four key principles of:

I) Delivering Educational Excellence

II) Developing Skills and Competencies

III) Building Character

IV) Nurturing Global Perspectives

students actiing with arts international

On Monday the workshops kicked off with warm-up exercises to raise student’s energy levels and get their bodies moving. It also involved a lot of laughter and cheering, two things that set the tone for the week ahead. Afterwards, the groups discussed what are the elements that make a good story, with suggestions like characters, acting, events, action, movement, sounds, emotions and locations. These elements were kept in mind throughout the whole week, as students applied them to fictional short stories, a public speaking exercise, and a musical performance.

Grade 5 split into groups to roll story cubes (dice with pictures) to use as inspiration for a short story of their own making. We saw aliens, icebergs, dogs, spaceships and even a Mars landing! Every day for the rest of the week students fine-tuned their narratives, and after each performance their peers shared constructive feedback to help the groups make their presentations even more immersive, confident and exciting. One of our Grade 5 students said, “I was really pushed out of my comfort zone on the first day, I wasn't sure I would like it, but I did!”

Meghan Honeysett, Grade 5 homeroom teacher says "This session has come at the perfect time as we are currently writing our own stories linked to natural disasters in class. The way this first workshop reinforced story features such as structure, action, narration, characters and emotions will be very beneficial for the next stages of their story writing."

students acting for arts international

Grade 5 also worked on the delivery of uplifting messages linked to youth activism. They looked at posture, voice control, hand gestures, and where to put the emphasis in a sentence. The transformation of the students from Monday to Friday in how they presented their statements was nothing short of outstanding, as they were powerful and confident on stage. This was also underlined with a musical performance led by James and Georgie, with even our shyest students ‘finding their voice’.

Our Grade 8 students looked at conveying status in performance, something that they too would apply to both their public speaking and short story exercise. They looked at posture and voice, and practiced representing a variety of different characters using these elements. They then split into groups to create tableaus of scenes from a fairy tale. Feedback was shared amongst the groups with suggestions on how to make their tableaus more dynamic and captivating. Again, these tableaus were continuously crafted throughout the week, with soundscapes, props, movement and dialogue added.

students discussing for arts international

For their public speaking exercise, two groups were formed, and each given the task to argue for or against the statement ‘humans should move to Mars’. After building their arguments by looking at examples of powerful speeches by politicians, researching scientific facts, and choosing the order of speakers, the big debate took place on Friday, with both groups powerfully and concisely representing their side. You could hear a pin drop as each student captivated the audience with their strong and powerful delivery.

One student praised the exercise saying “I can imagine using these techniques in school to give a presentation, or later on in my life in my career. I’ve learnt how to have presence in a room.” Another student said “I love the fast-pace of exercises as it keeps me on my toes. I haven’t been bored all week and I’ve found everything to be really engaging and fun.” Georgie and James finished Grade 8’s workshop with something that might seem impossible: encouraging a large group of 13 and 14 year olds to sing a musical number - no small feat!

All the ISN staff who were fortunate enough to see the progression of the students throughout the week agreed that they witnessed something very special. Seeing students shed their insecurities, grow in confidence, relax enough to be silly, try out different ideas, collaborate, and then perform their final pieces to an audience was a moving experience. Even the shyest student found their inner strength to conquer their fears and throw themselves into the activity. And this was all thanks to the warm, encouraging and supportive atmosphere created by James and Georgie. Students trusted them, and in doing so they felt comfortable pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.

students presenting with arts international

In the words of Mel Curtis, our School Director, “It was a wonderful week with both Georgie and James. They encouraged all the students to explore their imaginations and their emotions, ensuring that they developed confidence and creativity, as well as performance skills. I had the privilege to watch the groups throughout the week and I observed students grow in stature, presence and grandeur.”

Next up with Arts International we are working on a Carnevale performance with Grades 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9. This project is spearheaded by Sam Lothwood, a professional actor who was previously Dance Captain in the West End production of Matilda, appearing in the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall, and is now the Dance Captain for Mary Poppins at the Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End. The theme of this year’s Carnevale is ‘the king of the animals’ and our students are working on performances involving music, dance, costume and props. Finally, to celebrate the end of the school year, we are putting in place a collaborative piece with our sister schools ICS London and ICS Milan under the theme of ‘shaping the world’.