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Artists at school


Marie-France Thibault
Sonia St-Michel

Performing arts, Visual arts


Marie-France Thibault et Sonia St-Michel

Marie-France Thibault is a multidisciplinary artist. She graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada in Scenography. Over the years, she has received three research and creation grants from the Quebec Arts Council. Her work has been exhibited in galleries in Canada and abroad, and she has designed sets and lighting installations for the stage, most recently for the production of Clara dans les bois at the Théâtre des Confettis (2012) in Québec. These last few years, her artistic approach has focused on highlighting the collective creative process, drawing from cultural traditions around the world. Dedicated to the democratization of art, she aims to inspire spontaneity and creative play within communities, increase communication between professional artists and their communities and  foster a sense of belonging to a community. Marie-France Thibault conducts workshops in tandem with artist Sonia St-Michel.

Proposed approach and type of activities

In 2010, the artists brought their practices together in two productions supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Quebec Arts Council: La Reine Caméléon (2012), presented in the Carte blanche series at the Espace René-Provost, and Aarti (2012), presented at the Ottawa Dance Directive as well as the Gesù in Montreal. Fascinated by the complementarity of their practices and already deeply involved in arts education, Sonia St-Michel and Marie-France Thibault decided to join forces to provide a collaborative creation experience for students.

Other examples of activities

The workshop “Creative synergy: Creating together to better celebrate”

This workshop epitomizes Sonia and Marie-France’s approach and poses relevant questions to students:

  • How do we interact with our environment? Consider the environmental footprint in the choice of materials for the workshop: reusable, recyclable, and natural.
  • How do we share a creative experience that reaches beyond the individual? We’ll strengthen the sense of belonging to our community through a collective creation the whole school is involved in.
  • How can we learn about and integrate the traditions, ceremonies and rituals of other countries into the workshop?
  • How does this improve all of our lives? Learn about how collective creations can provide non-market experiences that have a positive long-term impact on society.

Conditions for the workshop

  • All classes in the school will participate.
  • Two types of activities are possible: “Body shadows” and “Celebration.”
  • To achieve the collective creation, the two artists divide the classes. Half of the classes work exclusively with Marie-France (elements of set design and visual arts), while the other half works exclusively with Sonia (elements of movement and dance).
  • The proposed activities require that the duration of the workshops be two hours per classroom (30 students maximum).
  • The final stage, putting it all together, is planned for the last two-hour period of our stay at the school. The aim is to integrate the work that has been done by students in both disciplines with both artists in order to create and present the collective creation. As described in more detail below, this gathering will be presented either as a shadow puppetry performance or a festive parade.

Workshop 1

A collective creation: Body shadows

The body shadow is a theatre technique that primarily involves using the body for the creation of characters.


  • Classes that work with Marie-France make masks and accessories. Through this process, the students create characters, and a story emerges.
  • Classes that work with Sonia learn to move masks and accessories created by Marie-France’s classes in order to act out the story.
  • On the last day, one student per class is selected and participates in the presentation of the collective work. The performance is presented in the gym, in the presence of both artists and all the students that participated in the workshops.

Examples of elements learned

  • In dance: isolation techniques, manipulation of accessories and the experience of positive and negative spaces that are projected on the screen.
  • In visual arts: creating accessories adapted for movement, drawing silhouettes, exploring textures in two dimensions and principles of positive and negative spaces.
  • In drama: shadow theatre, building character, mime and gestures, stage space, costumes, sound effects, masks.

Workshop 2

A collective creation: Celebration

The collective work that will be created is a celebration inspired by a theme (Earth Day, anniversary, end of school year) or a cultural festival from here or elsewhere in the world.


  • Classes that work with Marie-France create accessories for the celebration (masks, banners, flags, costumes).
  • Classes that work with Sonia learn to manipulate accessories created by Marie-France’s classes. In doing so, they create the choreographic formations (lines, circles, etc.) for a parade that will circulate in the school.
  • The celebration takes place in the afternoon of the last day of our visit, at the school (hallways, gym, school yard).
  • We believe that having students play an active role in the process of preparing a collective ceremony strengthens their sense of belonging to their school community.

Special conditions

The workshop requires non-reusable materials to create the accessories. The cost is $50 per day of workshops. Marie-France’s workshops can take place in the classroom, while a larger area (the gym or daycare) is required to work on movement and choreography with Sonia (in the case of the “Body shadows” project, Sonia also needs a completely dark room; it must be possible and easy to cover the windows with cardboard or dark fabrics). A cart on wheels will be needed to carry art supplies from one class to the other. Reserving the gym, along with functional speakers, is necessary for the final afternoon to present the collective creation.

For information

Phone : 819 557-0510
Email :

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