For many companies creating work for young people, children are central to the creative process. This can take many forms, from inviting children and their families into the rehearsal room, to showing young audiences sections of the work as it develops and incorporating their feedback. For their new dance show, Getting Dressed, Second Hand Dance’s approach is to meet regularly with children from Dunkirk Primary School in Nottingham, to develop and play with ideas about dance, colour, fabric and movement.
Getting Dressed is all about clothes – their look and feel, the pressure to pick ‘fashionable’ items, even the task of putting them on. The idea for the show came from Director and Choreographer Rosie Heafford who drew inspiration from “watching the acrobatics performed when adults and children get dressed, whether it be balancing on one leg to put a shoe on or reaching around to grab that illusive side of the coat.” From there, she considered the role of clothes in a young person’s life: “Getting dressed by yourself is a huge milestone as a child as it shows independence, technical capability, maturity and the identity we choose to present to the wider world. This show subtly challenges some of the conventions, peer pressures and popular culture influences children encounter when starting school.”
The production’s creative team will meet with the children from Dunkirk Primary over six weekly sessions, with Nottingham Lakeside Arts hosting the workshops in the Djanogly Theatre. Lakeside Arts has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to children’s theatre, with a regular programme of productions for young people, and their annual international children’s theatre and dance festival. The venue’s director, Shona Powell OBE, is delighted to facilitate the children’s participation in developing the piece, noting that some of their natural qualities are invaluable to the creative process: “Children are both honest critics and enthusiastic participants, and I’ve no doubt that working alongside the dancers, composers, and choreographer they will arrive at something very special indeed.” Lakeside Arts will also hold the first performance of Get Dressed on February 14th, before it embarks on a national tour this Spring.
The children’s input will not just be limited to their ideas, with some children’s voices featuring in the finished show, with its 80s inspired electronic soundscape. And don’t worry – the workshops aren’t the only chance for children to get involved in the production. Following each performance, there will be an opportunity to ‘Stay & Play’ with the clothes featured in the show, encouraging the audience to dress up and try something different.
Getting Dressed is for ages 4+. To find out more about the show, including tour dates and details, visit www.gettingdresseddance.com
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