What do you get when you combine drama, yoga, and the spirit of a warrior? The answer is the International School of Beijing's (ISB) inaugural Drama Yoga Festival.
Held at the ISB theater on February 18, 2017, the festival involved 14 middle school students who participated in workshops throughout the morning before delivering an afternoon performance.
The festival was organized by ISB middle school drama and dance teacher Hannah Northcott. She teamed up with Evalina Woodward, a teacher at Dulwich College Shanghai, to give students a creative, collaborative platform to discover their "inner warrior."
"I've been a drama educator for more than a decade, and I started training to be a yoga instructor five years ago. While learning about these two disciplines, I realized how connected both are," said Ms. Northcott, whose personal website is Drama Yogi.
"Drama is about taking you on a journey into what it means to be human, while yoga helps you better understand yourself. In integrating different aspects of humanity – your mind, emotions, creativity, body, and voice – you can create a meaningful performance."
The students followed their weekend festival performance with another show at the middle school assembly on February 20. Set to music and colorfully lit, their show incorporated physical theatre and storytelling as it tracked stages of a warrior's life from infancy to adulthood.
Grade 7 student Katie C, currently in her third quarter of a yoga enrichment taught by Ms. Northcott, said the festival had been "physically and mentally" stimulating as she discovered her own "inner warrior."
"As a seventh-grader, it's common to experience friendship problems. I've also been called 'weak' because I'm skinny. Sometimes it's easy to feel sorry for yourself, but it's important to get up and be strong," she said.
A newcomer to yoga, Molly H stepped out of her comfort zone to learn new skills on stage with the mat.
"I prefer drama, but the opportunity to try something new while incorporating my passion turned out to be a great experience," said the grade 8 student.
For grade 6 student Deniz G, participating in the festival was an empowering experience supported by its solid grounding in mindfulness.
"We explored our feelings, which helped us produce something very special. I've gained an understanding that I'm a warrior and that I'm stronger than my challenges, no matter how big they seem," she said.