Announcing our first Little Big Dance Touring Artists

In the midst of a devastating time for the arts and cultural sector, we’re pleased to be able to share the good news that George Fellows and Takeshi Matsumoto have been selected as our very first Little Big Dance Touring Artists.

George and Takeshi are two of four artists who have been taking part in Little Big Dance, the major three-year national initiative we launched in November 2019 in partnership with DanceEast, Take Art and Yorkshire Dance and with more than £371,000 investment from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England.

Since November 2019 all four artists have been using new learning about the developmental milestones that impact on very young children’s engagement with art to shape new work under the guidance of early years specialists, choreographers and a dramaturg.

In collaboration with under five-year-olds at Early Years settings in areas of the country with little or no access to the arts, they’ve been gathering and testing ideas for new dance works designed specifically with them and their families in mind.

At a sharing day on 28 February two of the four were selected to go on to production and a two-month national tour later this year:

Takeshi Matsumoto’s piece Club Origami is an immersive participatory performance for families with children aged 2+. Combining origami making, dance, fashion and live music Club Origami invites us to enter a world alive with animism - where spirits inhabit objects, natural phenomena, animals and humans.

Takeshi says: “It’s wonderful to work with children at an age when they are still free from social norms and rules, when they are full of spontaneity and playfulness. Testing ideas with them is to collaborate with and be inspired by them. Becoming a Little Big Dance Touring Artist means that I am lucky enough to continue exploring how placing children's participation at the heart of the creative process can open new doors for my practice.”

Four Hands will be taking their as yet untitled work to production under the direction of George Fellows. A work that challenges the boundaries of children’s theatre, the piece draws attention to issues surrounding mental health and the childhood experience. At times quiet and tentative and at other times an explosion of pure joy, this unique work acknowledges and validates the depth and intensity of the emotional landscape of young children and their carers. 

“It’s be wonderful to have had the opportunity to dig deep into the subject matter of this work,” says George. “I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with some incredible artists and, through the support of the Little Big Dance team, have begun a process that feels exciting and profound. I’m looking forward to developing the work for the forthcoming tours and collaborating with a design team that will enhance the process that we have begun.”

Cath James, Artistic Director at South East Dance says: “It was a delight to see how all four ideas have evolved but we were particularly taken with George and Takeshi’s approach. These are bold and brave works for very young children that will challenge everyone’s perceptions of what a brilliant dance performance for early years looks like.

“We’re absolutely committed to supporting these artists financially through this difficult time to ensure they’re able to create this work so that it can be shared with under-fives and their families once this period of uncertainty passes.”

The dates and venues for the first Little Big Dance national tour will be announced later this year.

See here for more information on the project

Little Big Dance is also supported by Dance Umbrella, Birmingham Hippodrome, Strike a Light Festival, and English National Ballet School.

© Takeshi Matsumoto sharing early ideas for his work with under-five-year-olds. Image: Summer Dean
Announcing our first Little Big Dance Touring Artists