Questions and Dancers at the Lilian Baylis Studio
Questions and Dancers, at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio, was a special one-off event featuring the work of new choreographers and young dancers for children and adults alike. Both works were commissioned by the Choreography for Children Award 2014, produced by Sadler’s Wells, Company of Angels, The Place and LCDS in partnership with MOKO Dance.
The first act was I am 8 by new talent Sally Marie, who has been nominated for the Critic’s Circle National Dance Award for new talent. It weaved children’s personal stories, featuring a handful of 21-year-old dancers recreating their eight-year-old selves, focusing on things that concern children: a solemn farewell to a beloved stuffed panda, and the feelings surrounding being left out of playground games. There were quotes from real eight-year-olds, such as what they wanted to be when they grew up (“A millionaire. Then a billionaire”), secrets (“I don’t learn anything at school”) and wishes (“I want to ride a camel”). It captured the uncertainty of childhood, where each small setback feels cataclysmic to the little person.
The second act, In There, There Stranger, was choreographed by John Ross, winner of the New Adventures Choreographer Award. Things got much weirder: a girl disappears into a labyrinthine world through her washing machine while doing her laundry. This world included dancers in black morph suits writhing surreally around the girl. At one point, one of the morph suits donned flippers and a mask to pretend to be a French penguin, while another morph suit danced in a cowboy hat for a piece called Wool Wash.
Kids do love the surreal and absurd, perhaps more so than adults, so this may have expanded their minds, or possibly just freaked them out. The kids in the audience were suitably bemused: invited to provide input during a Q&A session, one commented “that was weird”. The Q&A session was rather intense, as lots of children wanted to have their say, though it was lovely to see young people engaged creatively. The fact that it featured little children doing what they wanted to do and expressing themselves means it cannot be any bad thing. An enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Questions and Dancers was a one-off event at Lilian Bayliss Studio, for further information about future events visit here.