Over the course of this pioneering three-year programme over two cycles, up to eight artists will be selected to work with children aged 0-5 years, in four areas of England with little or no access to the arts, to develop ideas for new touring dance works. All of the artists will pitch their ideas to a Commissioning Circle that includes the Artistic Directors of Dance Umbrella, Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, The Birmingham Hippodrome, the co-Artistic Director of Strike a Light Festival, Starcatchers, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and artists who specialise in making performances for children.
During cycle 1 in 2020 two artists have been commissioned to create new dance works with children in Yorkshire and for a national tour when the situation with COVID-19 restrictions allows. George Fellows, co-Artistic Director of Four Hands, is creating a new work with children across Yorkshire using a simple question as a starting point: “what would you like to say to the adult world and how would you like to use dance to say it?”.
Drawing on his experience growing up in Japan, artist and performer Takeshi Matsumo is working with children in Suffolk and Norfolk to explore origami and the concept of ‘animism’ – the belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.
The Little Big Dance programme features specialist support from South East Dance Dramaturg in Residence Lou Cope, early years specialists Skye Reynolds and Hannah Le Feuve, early years producer Gina Westbrook, and choreographer Rose Heafford, Artistic Director of Second Hand Dance.
Little Big Dance is being evaluated by Dr Angela Pickard from Canterbury Christchurch University, who was awarded the Dance Research Impact award by One Dance UK in 2019. Dr Pickard will contribute to a best practice toolkit to ensure the wider dance sector can benefit from what’s learned from the programme.
Little Big Dance is supported with more than £371,000 investment from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England; and by Leeds Dance Partnership, Dance Umbrella, Birmingham Hippodrome and Strike a Light Festival.