Conference Program Overview


Welcome to the day! We imagine the entire program as a ‘relaxed performance.’ Guests are invited to participate in a way that best meets their needs at any moment, moving between sessions and in and out of rooms as needed. Children and dependents are invited into all spaces and sessions.

To learn more about guest speakers, artists and workshop facilitators please click here.

8:30-9:15am – Coffee, Tea, and Breakfast – Sponsor: Owl and Goose

9:15-9:35am – Opening Remarks: Guest Host Djennie Laguerre, Balancing Act Executive Director Lisa Marie DiLiberto and 9 move namaskaram offering by Neena Jayarajan of Nova Dance (’22-23 Level UP! Strategy Partner)

9:45-10:45am – Choice of Sessions:

Session A: Panel Conversation #1: Artistic Embrace: Caregiving Within Creative Process

(session will be recorded for future broadcast)

Moderator: Rebecca Singh, Producer, Actor, Singer and Audio Describer


Monique Diabo, Actor, Visual Artist, Singer, Educator, Dancer and Choreographer

José Miguel (Miggy) Esteban, Dance/Movement Artist, Educator and PhD Student, Social Justice Education

Christine Friday, Dancer, Choreographer, Producer and Director of Friday Creeations

Sometimes, the people involved in the creation of artistic work are also the people we care for. This conversation is about the unique ways artists are integrating care with art-making, working with their own children, with youth in their community, with chosen family, or with aging adults. How does this exchange of care affect the work we create (together)? Over the past year Balancing Act has been learning and expanding our vision of artist caregiving support. Thank you to our Steering Committee and Level UP! partners for their guidance.

This conversation is in dialogue with the Lambe Lambe Theatre performances from 3:00pm to 5:00pm upstairs in the Chapel or upon request can be delivered on the ground floor level. The miniature theatre projects are created and performed collaboratively by caregiver artists and their dependents.

Session B: Drum and Dance with Miss Coco Murray

For those looking to start the day with music and energetic movement! Grown-ups are invited to join the Creation Warehouse children in the Hurndale Room, where they’ll be dancing along to the rhythms of Miss Coco and her team. “Coco is not only a gifted pedagogue but a world artist who bestows students with the spirit force of dance.  Her work offers teaching rooted in heritage and ancestry, gifted to us by Africa and her story.” – TDSB Educator, Lizzie Kurtz (West Hill Collegiate Institute)

10:45-11:15am – Coffee/Tea Break

11:15-12:15pm – Choice of Sessions:

Session A: Panel Conversation #2: Visible Acts: Performing Care

(session will be recorded for future broadcast)

Moderator: Nehal El-Hadi, Writer, Editor, Researcher


Intisar Awisse, Playwright and Dramaturg

Maev Beaty, Actor, Theatre-maker, Writer, Coach

Ella Cooper, Director/Producer, Artist, Educator & Founder of Black Women Film Canada and Brown Rabbit Studios

Shira Leuchter, Performance Creator, Writer, Actor and Facilitator

This conversation is about caregiving, caring practices, and feminized labour in performance. What are the ways in which performing care (through both form and content) is political and radical? How do our own subjectivities negotiate this? How we can reorient ourselves to imagine radical differently? And importantly, how can this work both take up space and disrupt, making the often invisible nature of care work visible? 

This conversation is in dialogue with creations that spotlight care work: Animacy Theatre‘s Care and Ruth Howard‘s CarePlay installation presented in the Front Parlour Room.

Session B: Workshop: Restoring Balance with Christine Friday

This workshop aims to connect our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being through gentle breath, light movement, and writing. No dance experience necessary. Gaining inspiration from experiences with artistic practice in community. Turning vision into reality. Participants can bring a journal if they wish, and we will provide paper/pens.

12:15-1:30pm – Catered Lunch by Cafe Plenty

1:30-2:45 – Balancing Act Presentation (This session will also be livestreamed.)

The session begins with a performance of Care, a mask work-in-development by Animacy Theatre. We will then introduce our ’21-22 Level UP! Strategy Partners and celebrate their work with Good Roots Consulting and LeSage Arts Management. We’ll also meet our new Level UP! Year 2 Cohort and hear about their exciting pilot projects for the upcoming season.

3-4:30pm – Choice of Sessions:

Session A: PAAL Compassion Training with Rachel Spencer-Hewitt (Parent Artist Advocacy League for Performing Arts + Media – USA)

Balancing Act has been deeply inspired and influenced by the work of PAAL and Executive Director Rachel Spencer-Hewitt. Their flagship Compassion Training Workshop helped to underpin some very early work at Balancing Act, and we are so excited to bring it back in person for those who might be new to Balancing Act. A “combination of empathy and education that leads to collaborative solutions,” the session identifies a unique value system, strategy, and actionable steps for supporting caregiver employees through a process that is sustainable and inclusive. This workshop is for everyone (it’s so affirming!), but we’d like to especially invite organizations, their administrators, and board members to participate.

Session B: Workshop: Expressive Arts Therapy for Caregivers with Victoria Mata

We understand that conversations around care can be fragile. This session provides a supportive environment for caregivers to channel healing, a non-threatening way to explore our own feelings, meeting individuals exactly where they are at the moment, and without any expectations.
Expressive Arts Therapy (EXAT) encourages participants to explore the joys of creative expression within a variety of art modalities. This session will include visual arts and writing. No previous artistic experience is necessary.

CLOSING RECEPTION: Sponsored by Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts

Available throughout the day:

CarePlay: Installation by Ruth Howard : Open for drop-in between 10:00am – 1:30pm and 3:00-5:00pm

Through meditative make-believe environments, CarePlay enters into repetitive routines of care throughout the stages of life, and reflects upon the often-unacknowledged extent to which our lives are about caring for, and being cared for by, others. Drop by to share a care routine and play in an evolving toy care room for all ages.

Lambe Lambe: Miniature Puppet Theatre Performances

Performed by caregivers and their dependents, these mobile one-on-one performances will pop up through the day, and can come to perform for you where you are seated. A project by Creation Warehouse.

15-minute Massage Sessions: RMT Ligaya Esguerra

Booking in advance through G Cal – registrants will be notified when booking is open.