AS EVERY sweet manufacturer knows, bright colours have a magnetic effect on small children. They draw the eye, suggest fun and excitement, and make a clear statement to little ones: “This is for you.”
The Adventures of Isabel
Designer Claire Halleran was well aware of this when she created the set for The Adventures of Isabel, Smallpetitklein’s enjoyable dance show for young audiences. Walking on to the stage (as we’re all encouraged to do) was like entering another world, filled with sailing boats, pretend grass, little benches and lots and lots of colour.
Instantly, the potentially strange and scary world of the theatre was made to feel safe and unthreatening for the two- and three-year-olds surrounding me. It also created a sense of belonging which meant any invitations to join in were readily accepted by almost all.
Jumping up to run around the space, pretending to be birds, frogs or horses, the utter glee on the children’s faces was priceless. What’s crucial here, however, is that although this sounds like a merry morning at toddler group, there was much more at play.
Thomas Small’s choreography, and the dancers’ excellent execution, make this a truly accessible introduction to contemporary dance. Swooping and twirling around the set, their dynamic movements depict characters and situations from a range of poetry and song lyrics.
If there’s a downside, it’s the lack of a structured narrative arc – far from essential in dance, but useful here to carry older children less keen to join in toddler antics.