Julia Nickerson

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HomeArtistsJulia Nickerson

Julia has worked as a teaching artist for over a decade internationally, in New York City, and now in the Twin Cities. She obtained her master’s degree in Applied Theater in 2018 from the City University of New York’s School of Professional Studies and has worked with arts organizations such as Lincoln Center Theater, the New York City Children’s Theater, the Creative Arts Team and Girls Leadership creating active and culturally responsive programming for a wide range of populations. In 2017, she co-designed and presented “Acting up: Applied Theatre Tools for Engaging in Conversations around Race” at the American Alliance for Theater and Education Conference. Locally she has engaged with arts organizations such as the History Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, and has acted in a number of productions through the University of Minnesota.

Julia is passionate about using theater to build community, further the goals of the participants, and work towards a more equitable world. She is honored to be invited into participants’ journeys of self reflection, critical thinking, and artistic expression.

More About the Artist

Using theater games and activities, Julia designs participant-centered curriculum to support the goals of the community she is working with. She prioritizes building community and finding joy while working towards those goals. A few examples of her work include: supporting non-native speakers of English to develop their language skills through performance, encouraging young women to step into their power through role-play, engaging in conversations around race and privilege through applied theater activities, and working towards advancing literacy skills through theater games.

Julia is multilingual (bilingual in Spanish and English).

Program Offerings


Let’s Play! An Interactive Drama Experience for English Language Learners

Over the course of 10 to 20 sessions, students explore plot and character through improvisation, movement, and voice, culminating with an in-class performance of an adapted work they are currently studying in the classroom. Through their engagement in theater, students achieve greater fluency and confidence in speaking and obtain tools for self-expression and collaboration. Additionally, while developing the script, students are encouraged to make text-to-self connections with the goal of deepening their engagement with the material.

This residency uses storytelling and interactive theater techniques to support participants in making meaning about their lives and the world around them. The facilitator and participants co-create a space of agency where participants feel empowered to incorporate their individual and social identities, develop positive relationships, explore creativity through physicality, and have fun. A performance at the end of this residency is optional.

Acting Up: Devising Original Theater with Young People

Culminating in a short informal performance, participants are invited to explore the world around them through the creation of original theater pieces. Through structured activities and games, the themes and content are developed and shaped by the participants. By the end of the experience, participants have a stronger sense of ensemble and develop their skills of expressing what is important to them through the artistic medium of theater. The length of this residency is flexible with an ideal of at least 10 sessions.


“I was so incredibly impressed by our instructor Julia. She is a strong, empathetic and brilliant young woman – I discovered that I have a new found hope for the future and our leaders if they are anything like Julia.”

Participant in Girls Leadership workshop

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COMPAS is an arts education nonprofit that puts creativity in the hands of Minnesotans, regardless of their age, background, or skills. Based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, COMPAS teaching artists deliver creative experiences and arts programming across Minnesota.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.