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Artists at school


Vanessa Rigaux

Performing arts
Dance - Theatre


Vanessa Rigaux

Vanessa Rigaux is a Montréal artist who works in video, theatre, dance and performance art. She trained with Philippe Gaulier in Paris in a variety of theatre traditions including le jeu, Neutral Mask, Greek tragedy, and clown. She is now pursuing her study of clown in the Pochinko tradition in Canada, and has trained with John Turner at the Clown Farm since 2008. She is currently an MA candidate in Media Studies at Concordia University (graduating spring 2012). An independent performing artist, Vanessa has worked on puppet shows, toured with a children’s environmental theatre company, and created independent dance/theatre pieces. Her work relies on grant funding from three levels of government, “avant-garde” groups, art collectives, festivals, artist run centers, commissions, and collaborations with other artists. In 2009, she started a theatre program for autistic youth at the Children’s Theatre of Montréal.

What is important about moving? As an essential action, moving through space is a life force. In the digital world we now navigate, I am increasingly interested in exploring how to balance a lifestyle mediated by both computers and traditional manual devices: our bodies. Whatever the space—a traditional theatre, an outdoor park, a computer screen—my work seeks to explore the self in space and in collaborative efforts. I like to explore the messy process of street performance, interventions, and happenings. As a graduate student from 2009–2012, I continued to participate in the cycle of learning, performing, creating, and teaching; all parts that, for me, make my practice whole.

Proposed approach and type of activities

I teach from the varied sources of my performance training in dance, movement, theatre, clowning, masks, puppets and objects, and new media. As an interdisciplinary artist, my process is rooted in theatre and contemporary dance traditions. Some artistic goals I have for the workshops are:

1. Introduction and/or experimentation with materials. Materials here refer to theatre conventions, props, and our bodies.

2. Exercise our knowledge of bodies in space. Teaching “new” perspectives on the body in relation to the self, to others, and to space. (This is key in group participation—although students have achieved different levels of self-awareness, opening up the possibility of thinking of others is a good simple way to encourage sharing and group collaborations).

3. Environmental issues and sustainable lifestyles have often been at the root of productions and workshops I lead. Re-using classroom materials and using found materials are encouraged.

4. The end of the workshop will feature a collective creation we will have been piecing together through all the games and exercises we have worked on. Based on the process of exploring techniques such as improvisation, tableaux, props, and even live soundscapes, the final

workshop performance will be an interdisciplinary work produced by the entire collective.

Other examples of activities

  • Masks: Putting on a mask can be deeply funny as it changes our posture and disguises our identity. Mask play is fun to explore through simple scenes at a park bench for younger students, while Neutral Mask work is an awakening exercise for older groups that is enjoyable for participants and spectators alike.
  • Bodies in Space: We will get up and move. Drawing on techniques and exercises from Laban, Viewpoints, colors and shapes, animals, and space, I will guide students to rethink bodies and space by creating group compositions. Older students get a chance to do some directing of their own.
  • Puppets and Objects: If we gathered even just some of the old materials and found objects from recycling bins, school craft rooms, and basement corners, we would end up with so more than just junk. We would have a lot of interesting objects to make stick puppets, sock puppets, and object theatre characters!
  • Other activities: Collage CD boxes, creative writing/storytelling, scene work

Special conditions

Request to use donated items and school craft supplies. Students may wish to collect recyclable bottles of different sizes, or bring in a “found” object—a doll, a sock, a seashell, to name just a few examples—to create puppets and theatre props. In response to the group’s interests and teacher’s requests, we will build, use, and create source work and props to accompany our collective creation.

For information

Vanessa Rigaux
Phone : 514 892-7559
Email :

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