“Breathing Roots: Multicultural Traditions in Modern Expressive Arts Therapy,” the 7th International Expressive Arts Therapy Festival Conference and Regional Symposium of IEATA, organized and presented by the Russian Association of Expressive Arts Therapy, took place in Moscow, June 1-3, 2018.

In all cultures from the very old times people used to turn to the arts in sadness and joy. They sang, danced, made special paintings and performed rituals. In the contemporary society many ancient traditions are already forgotten or cannot be used in all forms. We hope that intermodal expressive arts can bring a new life and revive old traditions in new forms.

We remain on the territory of Expressive arts that is a contemporary social practice on the border of psychotherapy and arts, it is very multicultural and passionate division. In the contemporary urban world people are separated from the authentic rhythms of the Earth, from the Nature, from their bodies, from each other and from their roots, but overwhelmed with information and oppressed by the philosophy of consumption. Expressive arts therapy suggests making connections with ourselves, with others and our roots.

During this International Festival we related to the wisdom of ancients and modern traditions of different cultures and fulfilled it with the new breathing of EXA practice. In our Festival in Moscow we hosted the EXA facilitators from India, Hong Kong, Ireland, UK, and different regions of Russia. It was a great exchange of approaches and tastes of EXA from different cultures. In our Festival participants had a chance to connect with different art forms in the context of EXA: Russian circle dance and lullabies, Indian mehendi, Irish storytelling, traditional making of the Japanese ceremonial teacups (chawans), traditional making of the Venice carnival masks, traditional Yakut ritual of wellbeing, Chinese painting and exploring Tao from dance, etc.

We were very glad to be a part of this meaningful celebration of the growing Expressive arts community in Moscow. Next Festival will take place in Moscow 31 May -2 June 2019. You are very welcome to be a part of this Festival! Explore Russian Soul!

“Atmosphere of Festival was really warm family like, and at the same time very bright and intense! In each master class I received new experience contact with myself, very using knowledge and diving in unique expressive arts process”.


First president of Association Expressive Arts Therapy Russia, REAT, PhD, head of post graduate program of EXAt  by Moscow State University of Psychology and Pedagogy.

Varvara V. Sidorova

For participation please contact exatfest@gmail.com, varvarasi@mail.ru


Be Water in Moscow, fed back of conductor workshop from Hong Kong Lai Ka Kit.


First above, it was indeed my pleasure and honor to join the symposium in Moscow. The workshops were not only multi-cultural but also highly cultural-sensitive through the solid deliveries of the facilitators. Among these interesting exchange, I had delivered the workshop “Be Water: a metaphor to explore the theme of goodness in Tao philosophy.” In accordance to the two movements of Tao, my objective was twofold: to respond to one’s awareness and to enjoy the sense of home-coming. Overall, many of the participants reported that they had experienced a deeply grounded and fluidly unfolding of the consciousness. Some of the responses from the group were recorded below. Personally, as the facilitator, I had a compassionately satisfying experience. For one thing, I did feel like coming home to the Nature, i.e. my natural self could be seen and loved and validated. On the other hand, the movements of water from the participants had brought new awareness to me. Since the days I had been back to Hong Kong, I had these new gifts from Russia that I had been pondering on the possible responses to them. For example, how about fire? In fact, one participant showed me a drawing of fire and water together. She reminded me of the friendship between the two in our bodies. “How to slow down in a busy city such as Moscow?” A lady asked me this question and I responded, “We live here [in my heart] but not there. We may make space here to cultivate the sense of home-coming. That will bring us to the Nature.” The interplay between the awareness and responses led me to precious new inquires.

In a nutshell, the non-judgmental attitude (i.e. the basis of the non-violent movement as wu-wei in Tao philosophy) of the participants had drawn us altogether for a time of goodness and Beauty.


Responses from the participants in Russian/English translation:

 “Ka Kit created space  of simplicity,  spice, where was enough the small things: touching, breathing, movement by hand. This simplicity made me fell relax and created feels of protection. I was very glad to hear worgan  music, during rithuals with water, make spice waster. Intermodal transfers was very soft and I had sensation, what modality , what I going to is very right and help me feel  experience taking and receiving more deep. Calmness of each stage of workshop make me calm inside and I was not worried about time, facilitator was keeping  the time”.


 “ I feel gratitude to Ka Kit, for giving enough time for each sections of workshop, I had a possibility to test  “Now enough for me, I finished” it was like after eating testy food in lovely place.”


“Thank you very much for  this experience, Ka Kit, on this master class,  I realized, that therapy by different arts it is my! Was sensation, what water can give answer on each questions. And when I made picture n the end was sharing it with my colleague, I realized, what I had already answer.  Wonderful experience, I felt inner harmony.”

Workshop «Be Water: a metaphor to explore the theme of goodness in Tao philosophy» of Lai Ka Kit – for me was about how simple thing, simple act could make you think about the course, the rhythm of your life.. I learned with the leader of workshop, who was from Eastern culture, to be calm, flexible, tolerant, listen to my sensations. I reflected on the properties of water.

Krupa Javery (India)


Sacred Art Therapy: Henna & Healing

It was an honor to bring art rituals from my practice in India to Russia. Varvara and I met when she attended the Create & Connect: Expressive Arts Therapy symposium I organized in Auroville, south India in February 2016. So we came full circle to build even more bridges in this conference in Moscow!

I offered a workshop which included a collective mandala, guided meditation, and drawing on paper and with henna cones, as well as a brief presentation about my work in India. The henna process aimed to help participants connect to their bodies and develop personal symbols for self-care and healing. It is a method I have developed out of art therapy and the traditional art form of henna, honoring and adapting a ritual for insight and awareness. It was especially touching to see how many of the participants engaged so easily with the new materials and with sincere openness, and how the journey awakened their own connections to their roots. Varvara and I will collaborate in the future to explore the rich intersection between expressive arts in both of our cultures! The conference was alive with breathing roots from each corner of the world, and helped me understand how to navigate closer to the universal source of our creative power as human beings.


Responses from the participants in Russian/English translation:

 “I  am exiting! I never things, what I will be able to draw a lotoc, without any preparation. For me was really difficult to stop myself from drawing on my arm. Miracle!”


Wonderful facilitator and master class, I would like more.”

Space, was created by Krupa Javery was very deep and in the same time very fresh and light. After meditation was sensation  as after sleeping on the nature, I felt myself very relaxed and not tired. It was important ritual in the beginning of workshop, I felt  myself with other in the room. It was our own created spice and feels very safe. It was not easy for me draw by henna, but very interesting, I feel very pleasant to draw on my body and now this piece of drawing still with me.  Before , when I tried to draw on my body like grim, made me feel resistance, but henna with her natural colors and nice smell was pleasant for me.  I felt myself part of rithual, connected with nature and connected me with roots very ancient one, may be very one root, what one for all human creatures. It was also very important for me to know more about Krupas work in India, it was help me also to make my own steps, feeling support from international community of Expressive arts therapist. Thank you very much for spice and knowledge!


Vered and Boaz Zur (Ireland)

We were happy and delighted to be invited to take part in the Moscow 7th Conference in June 2018. The conference title was “Breathing Roots” Multicultural Tradition in Modern Expressive Arts Therapy.

We were very excited to join the pre-conference and to facilitate the first workshop that connects and addresses the title “Breathing Roots”.  We are a couple, Boaz and Vered Zur, founders of Expressive Arts Ireland. We love traveling around the world and we just finished a tour in Asia, where we spent time engaging with local people, breathing the roots and culture around the Far East, collecting local stories from people and communities and facilitating different workshops. Russia, a country that is somewhat between Asia and Europe, offered us a wonderful experience, bridging between different cultures and different nature. A special stop before heading back to Ireland. It was our first time to visit Russia and to connect with the beautiful rich culture. We experienced in Moscow a wonderful EXA warm community with so many kind-hearted creative people.


We offered 2 workshops.

  1. A day workshop: Engaging the Arts of Storytelling with the intermodal Expressive Arts Therapy. 
  2. 3 hours masterclass workshop : Creative ways of working with memories and transformation with EXA approach. 

In the first workshop we welcomed a lovely group, all the participants were very engaged with the workshop and the room was full of creative amazing stories. We shared stories and tools that can assist the participants to create meaningful stories and performing them. We created an individual process that helped people to create storyboards and hero paths, using clay and branches with imagination to support the creative process. In the end of the session, each group shared their story and performed. The room was full with creative and playful energy. We shared how we work in a therapeutic session and how the storytelling can be done with the use of drama, movement, props, music and more than one teller. The group experienced the work with storytelling and how powerful a storytelling tool can be in life and in therapy.


In the second workshop working with memories, we had a very special and powerful workshop. Each person shared his or her first memory.


Working with memories through the intermodal expressive arts helping us to hear and witness personal stories. Your story is part of my story, my story is part of society’s reflection. We are all together. Using imagination, creative writing, visual arts, drama, collage and movement to share the beautiful powerful memories. The participants were motivated to explore and engage with this approach and we will be delighted to share this experience again in the nearest future.


Thanks to all the participants who opened their hearts and received the group support. It was wonderful to be together in that experience. Thanks especially too to Varvara Sidorova for hosting us.


I would like to say about workshop “Creative way of working with the memory and transformation” of Boaz and Vered Zur:
Vered told us, once she asked her son tell about his childhood and his story was surprise for her because she remembers another things about her son’s childhood. Memories of events from the past are ambiguous and variable, and people can transform memories. Thanks Boaz and Vered for courage to work with emotional memories of every participant of workshop, for heartwarming Vered’s story and laconic but emotional Boaz’s story of the beginning of their relationship (it was interesting to know two versions – one from her, another one – from him), thanks for safety atmosphere and new wonderful experience!

Very soft and supportive space created by Vered and Boas Zur. Diving in a memory was soft and simple  and almost did not notice, when work was started. I felt carry abou me and support from facilitators. In spite of many people in room and not so many space in the room, I feel comfortable, facilitators was like a guides. It was exiting and pleasant for me to participate in group  performance with observers, it was very special atmosphere of presence and stillness.  For me was important to receive feedback unverbaly. It was beautiful experience, thank you Boas and Vered!


I like very much   playful atmosphere of workshop, I liked work as  a team. But very important, what already in evening I realized positive   change in my life after work with memory, one person, who bring me a lot of  problem in past asked me forgive him, he told, what he suddenly remember everythings and to be aware about his past actions.

I was lucky to attend the workshop held by Vered and Boaz Zur and dedicated to storytelling. I can hardly overestimate the power of their personalities and professionalism and how it impacted me. It was a magical process and I was eager to be able to learn as much as I can. The workshop turned out to be an endless source of inspiration on how to organize group work and how to facilitate deep inner work for all participants.

The Authors: Varvara V. Sidororva (Russia), Lai Ka Kit (Hong Kong), 
Krupa Javery (India), Vered and Boaz Zur (Ireland)