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National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation

Week 3: Re-Imagining Our Future(s)

The National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation is a collaboration between Pangea World Theater and Art2Action Inc.

The Institute provides a unique experience for theater artists to collaborate and share methodologies of directing and ensemble creation in an environment with special emphasis on non-Western techniques and social justice. The Institute is committed to supporting the professional development and exchange among artists of color, 2SLGBTQ+ and women directors.

Last year, we had prepared all year to convene again in July 2020. Unfortunately, these plans, like so many, were dashed by the onset of COVID-19.

We were humbled to see the outpouring of sadness from NIDEC participants last Spring as we informed them that the 2020 Institute would no longer be held in person. It impressed upon us the need for peer learning and community building in our field, especially among directors of color. That is why we made the decision to move the Institute online.

Starting with the Black Directors Roundtable in October 2020, Pangea and Art2Action have produced monthly online panels and workshops. While we deeply miss meeting in person, we are proud to continue serving the NIDEC Community even through the Global Pandemic.

You can see all of our online NIDEC events here. If you watched them happen in real-time, feel free to share these videos with your artistic collaborators!

Each Institute we have convened has had a profound effect on us, and how we conduct our work today. Here are some snapshots of our NIDEC journey throughout the years…

2012 Pilot Institute

Participants in the 2012 Pilot Intensive Photo by Luminous Concepts, at Intermedia Arts, 2012

The 2010-12 pilot phase included field-wide dialogues, collaborative planning, documentation, and professional exchange among leading directors and ensemble artists in the field. This two-year pilot process ignited and deepened field-wide dialogues on the needs of women directors and artists of color. It has, in turn, informed and shaped the proposed Institute, to create a secure foundation for the successful launch of a replicable program.

Key activities included roundtables at partner convenings nationally (2010-11), a pre-conference hosted by the University of South Florida Department of Theatre in association with the National Performance Network Annual Meeting in Tampa (2011), and a one-week residential Pilot Intensive at Pangea World Theater in Minneapolis (2012), to develop the structure, content, and curriculum, prior to the projected public launch of the Institute.

2015 Indigenous Artists Gathering and Professional Peer Exchange

In 2015, we launched the second phase of the National Institute program. In March 2015, we co-convened a 4-day Indigenous Artists Gathering, organized to address the lack and need for a national network of First Nations artists working in theatre and/or contemporary performance. In August 2015, another week-long Professional Peer Exchange was held in Minneapolis.

2017 Professional Peer Exchange and NextGen Institute

In July 2017, we embarked upon a month-long journey with leading artists in our field, as well as emerging artists ready to grow into leadership. The program included an Indigenous Artists Pre-Conference for First Nations participants who served as faculty and advisors; a Professional Peer Exchange for our faculty and invited guests, including professional development workshops and curriculum design; and the first-ever Next Generation Artists Institute for emerging practitioners!

2018 First Peoples Pre-Conference and Mentorship Institute

In July 2018, Pangea welcomed local, national, and international directors and director mentees to Minneapolis for the fourth incarnation of the institute. As we reflected upon the last Institute, which was structured as a cohort of emerging artist applicants led by a faculty of experienced directors, we realized that this model replicated white, colonial teaching structures.

We made a choice to move to a mentor-mentee based model, in which every invited guest would also bring a mentee of their choosing. This structure expresses our commitment to the values of trust and relationality. The mentor-mentee relationship is sacred in many of our cultures. This new structure reflects how most of us actually learned our craft. It provides a built-in means of sustaining the practices and skills gained in the Institute, when a mentor-mentee team can bring them back to their own community.

Once we experimented with this model, we knew this was the right path for NIDEC.

2019 First Peoples Pre-Conference and Mentorship Institute

The 2019 Mentorship Institute built on and drew from previous Professional Peer Exchanges, Indigenous Artist Gatherings, Next Generation Institute, and the first Mentorship Institute, held 2012-18. It included Master Artists from around the U.S. and across the world, including First Nations Artists of Turtle Island, and their invited mentees — emerging artists of any age, from those just graduating from academic programs, to working professionals who are emerging in a new area of practice, as Directors.

2020 Virtual Institute

November 20-22 2020, we produced the Virtual Directing Institute. This Institute included panels, master classes, morning movement, and workshops. Approximately half the programs were available to the public via livestream hosted by HowlRound, and the other half were exclusively available to past NIDEC participants who registered for the event using HopIn.

You can still see all the publicly streamed workshops and discussions from the Virtual Institute here on HowlRound.


When you make a contribution to Pangea, you invest in a one-of-a-kind educational theater institution that has a profound effect on so many artists’ lives.


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