Working with South East Dance Dramaturg in Residence Lou Cope, early years specialists Skye Reynolds and Hannah Lefeuvre, early years producer Gina Westbrook, and choreographer Rosie Heafford, Artistic Director of Second Hand Dance, they received professional training and development to work up their ideas for new dance performances for under fives.
During a sharing day in Feb 2020, two artists were selected by the commissioning circle, made up of 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, to create new dance works with children in Yorkshire, Suffolk and Norfolk and for a national tour.
Navigating lockdowns and new ways of working artists George Fellows, Co-Artistic Director of Four Hands, and artist and performer Takeshi Matsumoto persevered to create two stunning new works.
Setting out to validate the wide range of emotions that a child can experience, George Fellows created it’s ok with children across Yorkshire and focused on themes of mental health, care and attachment amongst young children and their carers. Read a conversation between George and Professor Angela Pickard. Watch the trailer for it’s ok here.
Drawing on his experience growing up in Japan, artist and performer Takeshi Matsumo worked 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 result was Club Origami, a critically acclaimed piece of dance which has gone on to tour internationally. Read a conversation between Takeshi and Professor Angela Pickard. Watch the trailer for Club Origami here.
Between July 2021-May 2022 both shows toured to nurseries and early years settings, and national and regional venues and festivals, reaching audiences of more than 3000 people, and receiving glowing reviews from parents and critics.
Reactions from parents ranged from ‘Beautiful! A moment to breathe’ and ‘Nuanced, sensitive performances’ to ‘It was joyful. So captivating and playing on children’s curiosity’.
The Guardian’s Dance Critic Lindsey Winship described Club Origami as: ‘full of imagination, creativity springing from an empty page.’ Read the full review here.