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Participants: Night of Ideas 2020

Join artists, philosophers, and scientists for a night of thinking through what it means to be alive in the complexities of the body and the entanglements of identity for the Night of Ideas 2020.

Note: Participants listed are subject to change. Click here for the schedule.



Au nom de la danse aims to promote the integration of all people with disabilities through courses, internships, workshops, training, partnerships or any other means available to them using dance as intervention vector.

As a fashion educator, researcher and activist, Dr. Ben Barry strives to intervene into the fashion system and redesign it to centre inclusion and decolonization—creating a future in which bodies that are currently stigmatized and excluded are instead valued and desired. As a teacher and supervisor, Barry works with students to confront, resist and transform the fashion system’s narrow ideas and ideals about the body as well as the hierarchical and exclusionary fashion design process. Barry’s research program centres the intersectional experiences of disabled, fat, trans, queer and gender nonconforming people and collaborates with them to co-design clothing and media.

Cécile Martinez is the Founding Director of the association Au nom de la danse and the Inclusive Dance Company 6eSens. As an Artistic Director, dance teacher and choreographer for many years, her work has helped to change and transform thought patterns. In recognition of her work, Cécile was decorated Knight of the National Order of Merit at only 37 years old and Knight of Arts and Letters at 46 years old.

Chandra Melting Tallow is an interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and musician of mixed ancestry from the Siksika Nation. Their practice often confronts the ghosts of intergenerational trauma and their relationship to the body, utilizing humour and surrealism to subvert oppressive structures of power. Recent work includes the 2017 film, soundtrack, and accompanying performance Rapture of Roses for Unsettling Colonial Gender Boundaries as part of Queer Arts Festival in Vancouver. They composed the original score, and were a co-editor of Coney Island Baby, a short film project in collaboration with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Tania Willard and Amy Kazymerchyk.

Dylan Harman has been acting since he was a child appearing in movies and TV series including Bless the Child, Memory Keepers Daughter, Remedy and Saving Hope. In 2015, he played the lead role in a feature film The Rainbow Kid which premiered at TIFF and played at various film festivals around the world including New York, Beijing and Moscow. In 2016, Dylan was an ACTRA Best Actor nominee and won Best Actor at The Hamilton Film Festival and The Moscow Disabilities Film Festival for his role in The Rainbow Kid. Dylan appeared in Rare and Wildfire directed by Judith Thompson and, most recently, on Murdoch Mysteries. Dylan is also a proud gamer with his own YouTube channel.

At only 18 years old, dancer and actress Elisa Martinez has travelled around the world to transmit a message of tolerance and acceptance of difference. She has been Thomas Destombes’ dance partner for a few years now.

Emma Becker was born in 1988 near Paris. After majoring in literature in high school, she studied psychology at Paris V University, before deciding to devote herself entirely to her writing. Her first published work, an erotic short story, appeared in the magazine Stupre in 2008. Her book Mr. (Denoël, 2011), an immediate critical and commercial success, has been translated into 14 languages; it was followed by Alice (Denoël, 2015). Emma Becker now lives in Berlin, where she wrote her third novel, La Maison (Flammarion, 2019).

Drag stars Fay Slift + Fluffy Soufflé have been doing drag storytimes since June 2016. Based in Toronto, they have been fortunate to do so many local events, as well as hit the road to adventures beyond the city. Their special events focus on books, songs, and include lots of laughs to show that Reading is FUN-damental! They especially want to support families with LGBTQ2S parent(s) and gender-variant children, and read culturally diverse books, by providing a supportive and inclusive environment focused on fun!

Jack Hawk is a multidisciplinary artist, astrologer, community worker and autistic, two-spirit mutt. Jack currently invests his time as the Outreach Coordinator for Tangled Art + Disability. Previously, he worked in non-profit gallery management and held positions with George Brown College and the Griffin Centre. Originally from Utica, NY, he now lives in Toronto with his blue-tongued skink.

Jenna Reid is a fibre based artist who works primarily with the practices of quilting and natural dyes as a way to engage with activist based aesthetics. Reid’s studio work explores inter-institutional violence informed by the histories of queer, feminist, and mad movement organizing.  With a completed studio based PhD in critical disability studies from York University, Reid developed a critical craft praxis as a way to explore how creative practices can intervene in ways that make change happen in the world.  As a professor in the emergent field of mad studies and disability studies at Ryerson University, Reid works with students who are both practicing artists and not, using art in the classroom to create ruptures, open up new lines of inquiry, and to help students turn away from the need to resolve and, instead, open up the transformative possibilities that happen when we render things problematic.

Judith Nicogossian is a health anthropologist, biologist and columnist. Specializing in the impact of techniques and technologies on human life and the adaptability mechanisms of the hybrid body. She is interested in the reconstruction, improvement and the Augmentation Project of the human body.

With the great innovations of the 21st century having transformed health and medicine and the way we view the body, the 3rd millennium is resolutely digital with the Internet, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, connected objects, cybersex, quantum physics all making a prominent impact on our daily lives  hence an “anthropology of digital” would aim to analyze the holistic  interactions between humans and machines. The “digital health” would be likely to modify uses, practices, values, and care culture. Facing socio-technical environments that operate on a “radical monopoly” of the objects produced by industries, and their serial normalization, the multidimensional aspects of the human are necessary to take into account.

Nicogossian also presents ethno-fictions—an exercise that is both ethnographic and fictional: triggering fiction at the heart of societies, to approach a future that is ultimately very different yet very similar. Ethno-fiction has the advantages of unravelling prospects for technologies that are constantly changing and suggest new progresses.

Judith Thompson is the Artistic Director of RARE Theatre Company. Judith is a playwright, director, actor, and professor of theatre at the University of Guelph. She is the author of 15 published plays, many of which are performed all over the world. They include The Crackwalker, Lion in the Streets, Perfect Pie, and Palace of the End, and Who Killed Snow White. She has directed and co-created four plays with artists with exceptionalities including Body and Soul, Sick, Rare, and Borne.

Most recently, she wrote the play Wildfire specifically for seven performers with Down syndrome, all of whom had appeared in Rare. She wrote two feature films, Perfect Pie and Lost and Delirious, several TV movies and many radio plays. She has twice won the Governor General’s Award for playwriting as well as the Toronto Arts Award, a Dora Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, and the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. She is humbled and honoured to have the privilege of collaborating with performers with exceptionalities.

Krystal Nausbaum has been privileged to collaborate with playwright Judith Thompson for almost a decade of live theatre, including The Grace Project: Sick, Rare (Best of Fringe 2012) and most recently, Wildfire (2017). An advocate for both disability and female rights, Krystal has appeared in film and television since her first big break as lead in The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (Lifetime, 2008), joining the cast of Between (Netflix, 2015), making a guest appearance in Northern Rescue (Netflix, 2018) and several indie productions such as The Rainbow Kid and Blood Honey.  Giving voice and expression to a young woman with a disability has been Krystal’s guiding light.

Dr. Loree Erickson is a postdoctoral fellow at Ryerson Disability Studies and sessional instructor at University of Toronto, OCAD and Ryerson teaching classes on sexuality, transformative justice, gender studies, disability justice, and pop culture. Her research and activism draw on her experience as an award-winning queercrip porn maker and forerunner in theorizing and thriving through collective care having met the majority of her care needs through her community for 20 years.

Max (Sarah) Ferguson has been a practicing artist since 1996 and received his BFA from the University of Regina in 2001. He graduated with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Visual Art and Women’s and Gender Studies) in 2017 and is currently pursuing his PhD in Art and Women’s and Gender Studies at York University. His artistic explorations involve disability studies, gender, non-neurotypical and trans-queer sexualities, activism, the body, surrealism, anti-colonial approaches to artmaking, and psychoanalysis. Max has worked with a variety of media, ranging from computer-based works and readymades, to paintstick, graphite, and digital collage. His practice blends high and low art approaches and draws from a mixture of art and academic theory, pop culture, and other influences. Currently, his work revolves around hybridized notions of photography, sculpture, music, sound, installation and performance, and involves psychoanalysis, the body, activism, queer/trans theory, assumed whiteness, internalized racism and Indigeneity, and issues of madness and non-neurotypical ways of being. He is also a published poet and writer, holds a degree in journalism, and has worked as a political, legal, military and arts writer in four different provinces over the past decade.

Nikoletta Erdelyi is a writer and poet, fascinated by the human experience and how we make meaning for the absurd. She is currently finishing her first novel, The Electronic Sticky-Notes That Saved My Life, a story about overcoming heartbreak after first love. Ghost Tales is a short play based on her real experiences as a woman in a wheelchair, the overlaps of invisibility faced by the Roma (Gypsy) people, and the ways in which both of these identities touch her life. Nikoletta hopes to contribute to Canadian literature by demonstrating that we are here to experience the beautiful contrasts of being; the extraordinary cannot exist without the absurd, and we often have to make friends with our phantoms to become our best selves.

Having been raised to fear everything, Patrick Salvani or Ms. Nookie Galore has an un/comfortable relationship with stories that haunt us. Ms. Galore is a FilipinX, non-binary, hairy Asian, horror-storytelling, Drag Queen. They have been spotlighted in CBC Arts and Radio; featured in the documentary No Fats, No Femmes, No Asians; and showcased at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum. Their Drag Horror Cooking Show, Sarap, has been featured in multiple festivals and conferences and has been published in the book Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries. Ms. Galore is the founder of the longest-standing queer and trans youth of colour program in Canada, and maybe the universe, The Drag Musical. Lastly, they are the Queen of the New Ho Queen party and their new show Scary Stories People of Colour Tell in the Dark premieres in the Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

The Curator of Public Programmes for documenta 14, Paul B. Preciado is a philosopher, writer, curator, and trans activist. His work considers biopolitics and sexuality, looking at the ways technology and pornography have shaped how we think about gender in the twentieth century. He has written about Playboy, architecture, and sexuality in the 1960s (Pornotopia, 2014); used his experiences taking testosterone to examine the business of desire and the pharmaceutical industry’s role in expanding our definitions of gender (Testo Junkie, 2013); and invited his readers to relinquish ideas about “natural” gender, sign a countersexual contract, and embrace the possibilities offered by the prosthesis (Countersexual Manifesto, 2002).

RARE Theatre Company is a not-for-profit community theatre and outreach organization dedicated to creating theatre with communities seldom seen and rarely heard on our stages. RARE reaches out and finds the theatre artists in those communities who wish to create work for the stage either through documentary theatre (Rare, Borne) or plays created for the performers specifically using stories told in extensive workshops (Wildfire, After the Blackout, Welcome to my Underworld).

Thomas Destombes was born on December 17, 1990 in la Seyne/Mer, in the South of France. He was one of the first dancers with a disability who Cécile Martinez trained since he was six years old. Thanks to his work and courage, Thomas makes numerous representations with 6th sens company in France and abroad. Invested in the association Au nom de la danse, he is in charge of communication and manages through his Patent as Technician in Computer Services to Organizations, the tools intended to promote the image of the association.

The Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance (TKBA)’s mission is to teach youth ballroom arts and to use the ballroom to demonstrate the importance of self-confidence, healthy living and active lifestyle, and bring awareness of the different problems affecting LGBTQ+ youth and their allies. Since officially kicking off in 2010, the TKBA now has five active houses and has reached over 75 youth. They hope to continue to spread the love throughout the city of Toronto.

Victoire Tuaillon is a thirty-year-old French journalist. She is the creator and hostess of Les couilles sur la table (Balls on the Table), a podcast about men and masculinities from a feminist perspective. Twice a month, she interviews experts on a range of subjects such as love, violence, bodies, sexuality, and politics. With fifty episodes under her belt and 500,000 people tuning in every month, her podcast, produced by Binge Audio, is one of the most popular in France.

Wit López is a multidisciplinary maker, performer, cultural advocate, and public speaker based in Philadelphia, PA. As a performer, Wit uses movement, music, costuming, props, and storytelling to address issues that deeply impact their communities by harnessing themes like gender identity/gender fluidity, body image, disability, illness, hairiness, sexuality, Blackness, Latinidad, and class. They are a classically trained mezzo-soprano, flautist, and actor, with extensive training in West African dance, Afro-Puerto Rican dance, ballet, and modern. With their practice in craft, Wit designs installation experiences through furniture (new and upcycled), textiles, and home goods that prioritize the importance of comfort, accessibility, audience interaction, and warm memories for the artist and viewer.


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