Monday, 10 July 2017

Dramaturgy and Friends: Caroline Bowditch @ Edfringe 2017

Caroline Bowditch & Company presents

4 – 27 Aug
Dance Base (Venue 22) 14–16 Grassmarket

The inquisitive snail is going on an adventure. Join Snigel and friends as they dance and play, in the undergrowth uncovering secret treasures. Acclaimed dancer and choreographer Caroline Bowditch presents her first work for children, Snigel and Friends.

A collaboration with Designer Laura Hook, Snigel and Friends invites children aged 0-1 and their adults into Snigel the snail’s cosy home underneath the leafy canopy; a colourful and sensory world where Snigel’s insect friends come to visit.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

For the last few years I have become aware of the demand for interesting work for young audiences. I also realised that very little, if any, work being made for young audiences includes visibly disabled performers. I have made this piece to start to address this issue.

I had had an idea about transforming myself into a massive snail and my motorised wheelchair being covered in a snail shell that could move through crowds at festivals and events. The idea of being a snail had emerged from the fact that in my chair I glide, I don’t have a footfall so it seemed like a natural connection.

I proposed this idea to my Co-collaborator and designer, Laura Hook, and she was up for the challenge. We went on join up with musician Zac Scott to create ‘The Adventures of Snigel’ which was recently previewed at the opening weekend of the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival.

Recognising that a more static piece was also needed, I started to ask children in my life what they thought snails did inside their shells. This was the original title for ‘Snigel and Friends’.

Snigel and Friends is a piece for under 1 year olds and invites audience members to join us in a magical undergrowth were we play, sing songs and do dances. It’s colourful and interactive show that has been well received by the audiences that experienced it’s premiere at Tramway’s recent Family Day.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

I think it’s a brilliant platform to begin to have potentially difficult or uncomfortable conversations. To inform, to raise and brooch issues. I think, as an artist, I’m always amazed at the emotional impact performance can have on audience members, even ones that weren’t intended.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I think I’ve always been a bit of a show-off. But actually living with a very visible disability, as a wheelchair user, I’ve always been looked/stared at. I think often performing is a way for disabled people to be in control of what people see.
Performance is also an incredible platform to get a message across to an audience and, potentially change perceptions and thinking.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We played a lot!!

We did a lot of playing with the type of toys that under 2’s play with. We watched lots of nature videos of the creatures in the show to really watch how they move and then applied this learning to our movement.

We shared the songs that we remembered from our childhood and then made our own songs.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is the first time that I have ever made work specifically for a young audience so a lot of it was really new.

I’ve work with several new collaborators on this project, including Laura Hook who created a beautiful design for the show, and several artists that I’ve worked with before, like Welly O’Brien who also performed in Falling in Love with Frida.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

A welcoming and cozy space where beautiful and magical things happen.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

One of the most important elements of our making process was the input from the members of our ‘baby board’ – a group of parents and babies from our target audience. The ‘Baby Board’ came into rehearsals weekly which provided us with the opportunity to share with them what we’d been working on and watch how their wee ones responded.
It was the baby board who were instrumental in helping us determine the age group for the piece.

Using dance, song and live music by Zac Scott, and featuring dancers Welly O’Brien, Alex McCabe and Caroline, Snigel has adventures with the help of their insect friends, whilst playing games and uncovering secret treasures. This will be the third year that Caroline has presented work at Dance Base for the Fringe following the award-winning Falling in Love with Frida in 2014 and 2015.

It will also be Caroline’s second year in the prestigious Made in Scotland Showcase, a curated programme promoting high quality dance, theatre and music produced in Scotland. Snigel and Friends and the accompanying promenade work for under 5’s, The Adventures of Snigel which will tour in Summer / Autumn 2017, will be Caroline’s final work made in the UK as she prepares for her own adventure back to her native Australia where she will be based from the end of this year.

“Scotland has been such a rich and nurturing environment for me to develop and grow as an artist. I’m proud of the work that I have created here and will continue to promote Scotland as one of the best places to be an artist, wherever I am in the world. Although my base will shift back to Australia in December many connections will remain here.”
Purposefully making these new works to increase awareness of different bodytypes to young children, Snigel and Friends is a rare example of work for children made and performed by a mixture of disabled and non-disabled artists.

Created by Caroline Bowditch and Laura Hook
Choreography by Caroline Bowditch in collaboration with the dancers
Designer: Laura HookCostume Design: Jenny Lööf
Original Music and live musician: Zac Scott
Stage Manager: Freya Gosnold
The cast includes: Caroline Bowditch, Welly O’Brien, Alex McCabe with musician Zac Scott. Please note that castings may vary throughout the Fringe run.

Snigel and Friends is part of the Made in Scotland Showcase 2017.

About Dance Base:

Dance Base is Scotland’s National Centre for Dance, situated in Edinburgh, and encourages and celebrates the potential for dance in everyone. Providing classes and workshops for the community, masterclasses and residencies for professional dancers, and an extensive programme of outreach work, Dance Base reaches out to inspire wellbeing and creativity, and cultivates a future for dance in local, national and international communities. Dance Base is a Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO).

Dance Base’s festival programme is curated by Artistic Director, Morag Deyes, MBE.

Dance Base’s Festival 2017 programme has 21 shows from 12 countries including Scotland, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Argentina, Canada, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Palestine, South Korea and Taiwan.

During the Festival, Dance Base supports performers and visiting companies in Edinburgh with a special programme of classes and workshops.

It offers a high-class venue for professionals to rehearse, a space for their practice and low-cost studio hire.

Throughout the year, the £7m dance facility is visited over 50,000 times, for 130+ different classes and workshops. Alongside this, Dance Base’s professional programme exists to support and nurture professional dancers and their work at all levels through classes, workshops, and a programme of residencies.

Dance Base was recently accepted as a member of the European Dancehouse Network (EDN). With its acceptance as a full member of EDN, Dance Base is making history for dance in Scotland as it is the first Scottish dance house to be accepted to the network; opening opportunities for Scottish dance artists.

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