This series of improvised performances across public spaces and hospital wards were Alder Hey in the Park’s inaugural dance performance.
“The concept of birds taking flight, just as our hospital community took flight into the new surroundings, runs throughout the performances. Small Things performed four dances in total, in different locations of the hospital. Beautiful and poignant, quirky and characterful, the performances captivated our patients and their families as well as many of the healthcare professionals. Creating site-specific dance performances in an acute paediatric hospital is not without its challenges but Small Things sensitivity and understanding of both the building and the people who use it, made this a highly successful venture and something Alder Hey would like to develop further.” Vicky Charnock, Art Co-ordinator
Invisible Duets was an interdisciplinary, audience responsive, performance installation. It included live dance performance, film projection, visual art and sound. It was inspired and created with children on the neuromedical ward at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.
The films were created with children with acquired brain injury or neurological conditions. The approach to movement and filming is improvised and child centred, supporting the interest and energy of the participant in an unfolding duet.
The films were shared in an intimate way by the performers, using hand held mini projectors.
Performances took place on the hospital ward, in Belfast Lyric Theatre and Chichester University’s ‘Somatics and Technology’ Conference. We were also invited to perform for the launch of the hospitals new research facility.
Dancers; Lisa Dowler and Cath Hawkins, Lisa Dowler and Children on Neuromedical ward (film), Costume and visual art; Paula Hampson, Film; June Gersten Roberts, Soundscore; Philip Jeck, Cello; Georgina Aasgaard.
This film and performance installation explored our embedded interconnectedness to one another and the earth, generating work which resonates deeply with the place in which it was created.
The film was created in a coastal area on the Lleyn Peninsula with three dancers, their two children, aged three and six and a dog. The plasticity of the children to their environment and their experience of nature and landscape was integral to the creative process and much value was placed on their contribution.
This project toured to the North West, Wales and North Yorkshire in 2009.
An offshoot entitled ‘A Moment in Time’, was developed by Lisa Dowler, Paula Hampson and their daughters and performed at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool in 2010. This improvised performance was in relation to an exhibition by female artists exploring motherhood and nature.
Performers: Lisa Dowler, Paula Hampson, Cath Hawkins, Siena Dowler-Mercer, Niamh Mcardle, Jess the dog. Film: June GerstenRoberts
ELaTIon Performance series 2018-19
Funded by BBC Children in Need, this series of improvised performances takes place biannually. In June 2018 our first improvised tour took place on Renal Dialysis, 1C Cardiac, 3A surgical and 4B Neuromedical.
Feedback from a parent of long term patient, "It was lovely, you all gave us the chance once more to enjoy moments with our daughter. Having been in this building for a long time you help us to remember that it's possible to smile, play and share with everyone our feelings. And this is possible because of all of you! Gracias!"
Staff feedback, "Fabulous! My patient really enjoyed it, her heart rate decreased whilst the dancers performed to music."
"Very moving, lovely dancing. My daughter was in a trance!"
"The music and dance turned a hospital visit into a really happy time. We all enjoyed it-a great experience!"
Performers: Georgina Aasgaard (Cello), Lisa Dowler (dance), Louise Gibbons (dance), Sam Hickey (dance), Henry Horrell (violin)
Directed by Lisa Dowler.
Images by Leila Romaya.
Do You Live Here?
Victoria Baths, Manchester & the Walk the Plank Ship, Liverpool.
Victoria Baths images by Sarah Spanton www.waymarking.org.uk
Walk the Plank Ship film by Dan Williams www.moonmanmedia.co.uk
A wide ranging project that spanned a number of sites and settings and two years of creative, participatory and performance activity. This sought to explore how attempting to inhabit a place, to get to know it well affected creative responses to it.
This led to a site sensitive collaboration of visual art and movement inspired by Victoria Baths in 2005.
“You created a wonderland in the Baths” Audience member.
Following this, in June 2006, sell-out performances took audiences on an unusual journey through the secret, derelict places of this Edwardian swimming pool palace to discover the fading traces of those who lived, worked, bathed, swam, washed and danced there.
“Beautiful piece-really complex in all it encompassed. Very evocative and really gave us a feel for this place.” Audience member.
Also in 2006 Small Things inhabited the Walk the Plank Theatre Ship. This led to a sharing, including film by Dan Williams.
“It brought the space alive with movement, voice and fantastic use of props.” Audience member.
This work continued into early 2007 as Lisa Dowler and Cath Hawkins explored Lewis’s department store, Liverpool.
Artists involved in these projects included; Cath Hawkins, Lisa Dowler (devising and performance), Sophie Zadeh (visual art), Sarah Astbury (costume) and Chris Spriggs (singing teacher).
Participatory projects included; three reception class groups from Rolls Crescent Primary and Sandilands Infants Schools, Manchester visiting Victoria Baths and exploring creative responses to this experience; a project on the Walk the Plank Ship with young refugee and asylum seekers from the Haven Project, Liverpool (DVD’s were created to document these projects) and a ship visit from Reactivate, a dance company for learning disabled adults from Warrington; workshops with the Canal Boat Adventure Project for disaffected young people and the Bridgewater Day Centre for adults with additional needs, Runcorn.
“I really enjoyed it and would like to do it again.” Participant.
This project was funded and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Awards for All, DIGM, MDI, PH Holt Charitable Trust, Architecture Week 2005 & 2006, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the Victoria Baths Trust and Walk the Plank.
The Lowry, Salford
Began as a solo project by Cath Hawkins, “Small Things” about exploring performance in every day places, improvisation and small objects on a trolley, supported by the Zion Arts Centre, Manchester and The Lowry, Salford, North West Arts and DIGM.
“Fascinating”…..”It’s like found art, found objects”…..”Musical objects lost in phrasing, stillness, action, a soft Kaleidoscope”…..”She is a good dancer but a bit daft”…..”Gets one thinking and thinking again.”
“Up-country” followed, and the founding of the Small Things Dance Collective to create a dance performance sensitive to places and situations around and about what was then a new, striking silver building. An improvised clutter of manic movement and small things in different sizes, landscapes and viewpoints was created by Cath Hawkins, Lisa Dowler and a specially formed group of eight young women from the Leigh area. The audience followed the performance around the outside and inside of the building. The sounds of the area were recorded with Jenny McCabe and Bryony Rogers captured the event on film. Dance, visual artists, volunteers, the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh and also Yr 6 pupils of nearby St Luke’s Primary School also made valuable contributions to the project.