New national dance programme launched for working with pre-school children

Applications are now open for Little Big Dance, offering dance artists specialist support to develop high quality touring dance work with and for under five year olds – an age group historically overlooked and undervalued in the arts. Little Big Dance is a major three-year national initiative created by South East Dance in partnership with DanceEast, Take Art and Yorkshire Dance with more than £371,000 investment from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England.

With the guidance of choreographers, producers and dramaturges who specialise in working with young children, Little Big Dance will support 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, 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 another four will go on to be supported by the Little Big Dance partners. Evaluation will be carried out by Canterbury Christchurch University’s Dr Angela Pickard, who will contribute to a set of tools forming a best practice blueprint to support the dance sector in working with and for pre-school children.

Creating the opportunity for everyone to experience incredible arts and culture is hugely important – especially for children and young people. Creating that opportunity for children under five to work with professional artists and to experience work created specifically for them could have a huge impact on their confidence, health and creativity – now and in the future.