Little Big Dance is a major three-year national initiative created by South East Dance in partnership with Take Art, DanceEast and Yorkshire Dance, with more than £371,000 investment from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England.
The programme supports choreographers and dancers to make captivating and diverse work for and with under-fives and their families, particularly those from marginalised backgrounds with little or no access to the arts. We want to revolutionise the way early years dance is recognised and to support more high quality dance work for the under-fives.
The voice of the child is at the heart of the creative process. Throughout the two 18 month cycles over three years, eight commissioned works will be developed, with four scaled for production in regional venues. Little Big Dance will support eight dance artists to gain valuable skills by working in a variety of pre-school settings in areas of England with little or no access to the arts.
Little Big Dance is also supported by Dance Umbrella, Birmingham Hippodrome, Strike a Light Festival and English National Ballet School.
With the guidance of choreographers, producers and dramaturges who specialise in working with very young children, Little Big Dance will support eight dance artists to gain valuable skills by working in a variety of pre-school settings in areas of England with little or no access to the arts.
Using their new skills and experience, the artists will be asked to create and pitch an idea for a new touring work to a Commissioning Circle that includes the Artistic Directors of Dance Umbrella, Edinburgh International Children’s Festival,The Birmingham Hippodrome and the Executive Director of Starcatchers.
Four of the ideas will be selected for production and will go on to tour nationally to venues and pre-school settings, whilst the development of the remaining four will go on to be supported by the partners.
We know that dance can enhance physical and cognitive development; build confidence and creative expression; and offer young children living with neurodiversity entirely new ways to communicate with their peers. We also know that very young audiences are often overlooked, despite evidence suggesting that children who take part in the arts from a young age are more likely to continue to reap the health and wellbeing benefits into adulthood.