Unspoken moments of gratitude, unwritten messages of hope

By the True Colors Film Festival Team

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January 19, 2022

5 practising artists describe some of the lessons they learnt in 2021 and how these will shape their creative approaches this year.

By the True Colors Film Festival Team

Unspoken moments of gratitude, unwritten messages of hope

Image description: Erin Ball, a Circus Artist and Coach, is smiling while suspended mid-air by a white aerial silk. She has long brown hair with bangs, and is wearing a purple costume with shiny silver swirl patterns. 

Erin Ball (Canada)
Circus Artist and Coach
True Colors Circus: Online Workshop

How did you continue creating over the past year? 

I was asked early in the pandemic to perform at a digital cabaret, and it helped me to expand my thoughts on how circus could be offered. I worked digitally with a choreographer and performed live on Zoom. In some ways, it felt very different as I could not connect with the audience in the moment, however getting feedback and being able to interact via the chat immediately after was great.

How did this experience inform how you’ve work since? 

Since that time, I’ve created many works that were either live or pre-recorded and was very fortunate to have some amazing videographers to collaborate with. I have explored green screens, digital residencies that allowed investigations into new platforms, 3D cameras and more. Digital performance has created space for me to explore new-to-me ways to incorporate accessibility, such as using the lyrics of a song as creative description, incorporating my own voice into the access, collaborating with Deaf folks, and so much more. I love that it allowed me to participate in projects all over, with shows as far away as Japan, even while we were locked down. It has been challenging, however, I think there are many benefits, and it is my hope that we will keep digital options in the future.

Share an anecdote about how your art touched someone’s life in the past year.

I think the music/circus exploration during the time of my residency at Kingston Grand Theatre Local Arts has been one of the most touching for people. I was trying to find a way to include creative description for Blind and partially sighted folks — and anyone else who benefits from description — and not overwhelm other people by layering in so much access (i.e., captions, descriptions, and sign language on top of a song with lyrics). The result was a story-telling song that also created access. It felt very natural and many who have experienced it, whether sighted or not, have appreciated it. Several people shared that they cried. Others have called it radio circus and said they would listen to these songs on the radio. Watch an interview I gave about the process here.

What do you resolve to do in the coming year?

I don’t really make resolutions, but I hope to continue exploring the digital realm and creative access. I also hope to collaborate with many more people without having to travel — though I hope to travel again someday.

What will you stop doing in the coming year?

My goal is to work more with the concept of Crip Time. Recognizing that capitalist standard time does not work for everyone. I tend to take on too much and I don’t need to do it all. I want to give opportunities to others and really respect what is manageable.

What are your hopes for the coming year?

I hope that people can gather again and that we don’t forget the lessons we have learned. I hope that we remember digital options and remember that we can adapt pretty much everything. I hope this leads to less pressure and stress for everyone and that we can lean more on our communities for support and care. 


Unspoken moments of gratitude, unwritten messages of hope

Image description: GenGen, a dancer who has short pink hair, is posing for a photo mid-air. He is wearing a pink t-shirt and long pants with a blue outerwear top. He is covered in many colorful ribbons.

GenGen (Japan)
True Colors Fashion: The Future is Now!

An important lesson in 2021…

It was a year when I learned the importance of asking for help. It was very important to consult with the sign language interpreter through the whole process of creating for the Paralympic closing ceremony. With everyone wearing masks due to the pandemic, it was tough for me to understand what was going on and what people were saying. It was very reassuring to have a sign language interpreter.

How your art touched someone’s life in the past year…

At the True Colors Fashion show, I met various people with disabilities. I felt strongly that they are living their lives with ingenuity, individual perspectives and hope. Also, there were many scenes at the Paralympics where diversity was represented. The things that I used to feel ashamed of have faded away, and now I feel my burden has been lifted somehow. Now I can be grateful for being able to be myself. 

What would you like to achieve in the coming year?

I want to create an environment where people can get to know me better and further explore the range of possibilities available to me. I’d like to work towards creating a world where even hearing-impaired dancers can be active!

What will you stop doing in the coming year?

I want to stop wasting time worrying and instead devote myself to accomplishing what I want to do.

What are your hopes for the coming year?

I want to improve myself and dance boldly with the spirit of a tiger. I’m turning 29 this year, so I’m going to take a lot of action to make sure I don’t leave anything unfinished in my 20s.


Unspoken moments of gratitude, unwritten messages of hope

Image description: Putri Ariani, a singer, is wearing a black long sleeved top under a sleeveless black and white vest. She is wearing a white headscarf and a pair of black sunglasses.

Putri Ariani (Indonesia)
Singer, Indonesia’s Got Talent

You continued creating over the past year – how did you do it?
I put all my effort into creating as I never want my work to betray the results.

What are your plans for this year?

I will release a new album this year with a new concept. At the end of January, one of my new singles will be featured in a Valentine’s Day campaign for SilverQueen chocolate! In February, I’ll be releasing another single in collaboration with TikTok and the music streaming app, Resso, also for their Valentine’s Day campaign!

 What will you stop doing in the coming year?

I will stop overthinking and embrace positive thinking; stop being insecure and be grateful, and do what I want to do!

What are your hopes for the coming year?

Stop stereotyping the differently abled. Just give us a chance to perform, and enjoy our work.


Unspoken moments of gratitude, unwritten messages of hope

Image description: Riduan Zalani, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Nadi Singapura Ltd, is smiling for the camera with his arms crossed. He is wearing a long sleeved black top with a headscarf.

Riduan Zalani (Singapore)
Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Nadi Singapura Ltd

What kept you going in 2021?

We reminded every member about our plans and dreams as a team. We stayed determined, focused and honest, whilst adjusting to shifting scenarios and restrictions. I believe a positive mindset and environment kept us going and that the changes we needed to make start with the individual. We had to change our perception of life; what it means to be happy or successful. I found the tranquility of our hearts to be the most desirable. Internal peace is eternal bliss, and we are grateful for the blessings.

What was a highlight of 2021 for you?

2021 was a special year for Nadi Singapura. We reached a significant milestone, our 10th year together as a unit, and in conjunction with that, we released a commemorative 10th year USB thumbdrive packed with a decade worth of our music, including our latest albums — Pencak Orang Timur, 6 Music Scores, Nadi Singapura Sound Library, and more. It was our gift to everyone, our family, fans and followers. Despite the circumstances, we were able to  share our journey by having it archived in a physical medium. It’s incredible to look back at the processes and how we managed to pull it off despite the restrictions. I believe it was meaningful for each member of Nadi Singapura. 

What will you stop doing in the coming year?

I’ll remind myself not to sigh at challenges that seem hard to overcome. Each and every moment is there to mold you; to give you opportunities and a wealth of experiences. Live life full of gratitude and count your blessings.

What are your hopes for the coming year?

My hopes are that everyone will be given good health and that we all play our part in building a positive environment for everyone. Cherish and support the people in our lives!


Unspoken moments of gratitude, unwritten messages of hope

Image description: Stevens Chan, CEO of Dialogue Includes All and Arts Activist, is smiling with his hands behind his back. He is wearing a black collared shirt and a brown blazer over. He has on a pair of sunglasses.

Stevens Chan (Malaysia)
CEO, Dialogue Includes All and Arts Activist

What changes had to be made to the events you organized last year?

Covid -19 has certainly been disruptive for just about everyone’s life globally. In many ways, Covid has taught many of us about patience and resilience. As a special arts event organizer we have to pivot many of our plans from face-to-face to virtual. This certainly posed many uncharted challenges as the arts are experiential and to replicate that virtually sounded impossible in many ways. But art is also creatively expandable, and so for the past two Special Arts Festival, we focused on telling stories about the Differently Enabled community and also did podcasts interviewing the Special Artists about their stories of resilience. For the story-telling, we engaged with the multimedia and mass communications students from a local university to make short films about the different disabled people and tell their stories. What was interesting was that some of these short films were done virtually as Malaysia was then under lockdown and filming was not allowed. 

What did you learn from this?
I learned that when one puts their heart into creativity regardless of the external circumstances, innovative and inspiring arts are ignited — and that sparks hope!

How your art touched someone’s life in the past year…

In pivoting our Special Arts approach to include more students and the people from the differently enabled communities along with their families, we witnessed many unspoken silent moments of gratitude and appreciation. There have been so many unwritten messages of hope.

What do you resolve to do in the coming year?

For our 2022 Art Includes festival, we plan to do hybrid activities, meaning both face-to-face and virtual events focusing on experiential interaction both on and off-line. We plan to, with sponsors’ support, use AVR to enhance the Special Arts experience.

What are your hopes for the coming year?

I hope that we can all come out to interact, play and embrace each other safely and warmly again!

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True Colors Festival

TCF is a long-running international festival of performing arts. We celebrate diversity and inclusion, and embrace the fact that we are One World, One Family. We choose the arts as our platform, for its power to move, inspire and heal.

As a festival, TCF brings people together to generate exchanges, innovation and creativity; and transform the way we relate to each other.

Presented by The Nippon Foundation, TCF brings diverse artists and audiences together through concerts, documentaries, music videos, film screenings, children's programs, musicals, workshops and other activities. Since 2006, festivals have been organized in Southeast Asia and Japan, with more than 1,200 artists from more than 30 countries connecting with a global audience in more than 80 countries.

TCF invites you to journey with us, to enjoy, experience, share and spread our consciousness of being One World, One Family.

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