My belief, based on many hours of spending time through my artistic, education and peri-natal infant mental health work with babies and very young children, is that they have skills that are ideally showcased through a live performance. This is because they are curious, observant, in tune with the rhythms of communication and hard-wired to seek out connection with the adults around them and with each other.
This belief is supported by recent developments in cognitive science, which have transformed the way we view babies and very young children from being ‘blank slates’ to powerful agents in their own lives, with the support of their secure adults.
In her book ‘The Philosophical Baby’ (2009. New York: Picador), American cognitive scientist Alison Gopnik argues ‘for a new view of … fundamental philosophical ideas (such as imagination, truth, consciousness, identity, love and morality) based on babies and a new view of babies based on these philosophical ideas.’
Similarly, the goals of my company’s dance work are as follows – we are looking for new ways of making performance, which meet and communicate with very young children, and a new view of very young children based on the wonderful ways in which they respond to these performance works.
– Sally Chance
Seashore is a 40-minute
piece of dance-theatre, presented with live music.
The title of the work comes from Tagore’s dark and exquisite poem On the seashore of endless worlds. At first glance the seashore provides an accessible, if not ubiquitous, imaginative world. Even children whose home is not near the sea are routinely offered picture books, play themes and TV shows situated at the beach.
However, Seashore confines itself to the more nuanced world of the poem and the idea of the shore as a liminal world between land and sea, beauty and risk and (childhood) play and (adult) work. The company recognises that the word seashore conjures many different things in children’s imaginations, depending on their location, life experience and disposition. Seashore’s leading metaphorical images are abstract and relational, with potential resonance for families in multiple settings:
- "Footprints in the sand" to represent the ebb and flow of the parent-child relationship, constantly refreshed like the daily restoration of the shore by the rise and fall of the tide
- Land as ‘order’ and ocean as ‘chaos’ and that having one foot in each, whether as child or adult, is exciting and creative.
Photo credit: Sia Duff
“Sally Chance’s ode to the ocean connects and calms its young audience, while giving the grown-ups some welcome relief”