Do you feel our students are more engaged and inspired when interacting with a performing artist?
Abby Gerdts: When I was doing a monologue for an assembly at the Hong Kong school where there were probably several hundred kids, I was supposed to be talking to a king and I imagined the king to be standing at the back of the room. When I was yelling at this invisible guy all of the students (at some point) turned around to look and see if I was talking to someone. That's the power of having a professional artist. We're not amateurs, we can actually get people to believe something that’s actually not there. That's the power of student imaginations as well and I think that's remarkable. When I think back to myself at that age, and how moving it was for me, that made a lot of difference. Just to be in proximity to performing artists and the chance to talk to them or ask questions - it's very important.
When I was young every opportunity I got, every time there was an assembly with a magician or anyone in the performing world, I was mesmerised. In those days it really rocked my world. It was profoundly important for me to see those people and see that there's a person doing what I want to do.
IK: I've never had an experience at a Nord Anglia school where everyone in the room wasn't fully engaged. It's like an equaliser, especially because children have this bright optimism of "anything is possible." They all dive in with equal energy and enthusiasm and it's exciting to witness.
I’ve had teachers warn me saying this group of students may be shy, or this group may be resistant. You never know what you'll find from groups of kids who haven't necessarily ever experienced dance. When we all get into the room together my task is about how can I convey a sense of what being an artist is and what creativity is.
One particularly moving class was in one of the Qatar schools. It was in that school that I found such a high level of exuberance from everyone. Maybe it was because dance wasn't what they expected. There was this high energy bouncing off the walls. They were really engaging with the material.
How can a regional performing arts festival further inspire, engage and awaken a love for the performing arts in our students? Would you have appreciated something like this when you were a student?
Abby Gerdts: I have no doubt about the importance of these kind of events. The thing is you meet your tribe; you meet your people. You realise you're not alone. There may be a small percentage of students in your school, but when you go to a regional festival you get encouragement. You start to realise — there are others here who are just as passionate about this as I am.
There are moments when you feel weird sometimes, or your parents can be hesitant wondering if this is something you can really do as a profession. You won’t know until you go out into the world and meet people who are like-minded, and you go to theatres and you go to a festival.
This is very exciting. I'm so excited for the students. To go and meet other students, other teachers, other artists, at a festival will certainly change things for them and make them realise that this isn't out of reach, they’re not just dreaming. There are other people who think like me and it is possible.
Ingrid Kapteyn: I think it's a fabulous idea. The performing arts are about sharing and about bringing people together. It's a communicative exercise, and if a student is only experiencing the art form in isolated classes weekly, monthly, or maybe only when a visiting artist decides to drop by once a year, then that would feel small. Going to a festival and getting a sense of the scale of that kind of art, that it happens between people every day, all the time, everywhere. It really helps colour in the picture of what it means to be an artist.