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Planting seeds & reflecting on the last year...

Updated: May 22

Over in a flash, 2023 has been the first full year of Sonrisa Arts and its been a super busy one... One show for older adults, Rewind:1970's created and toured alongside workshops with older vulnerable adults, back on the road touring with trio show, Very Much Alive! with Sonrisa - the band, two weekly Live Well & Dance with Parkinsons classes and a weekly movement to music class for Arts & Dementia Warwickshire project for Arts Uplift, plus, a big research & development project, Dance in the Dark, to create a new touring show for early years.


Dance in the Dark workshop in a childrens centre

And breathe.....phew!!!!!!


I started the year with mixed feelings, a new venture and an empty slate as 2022 saw the end of Wriggle Dance Theatre where I'd been co-director for over 10 years. This was a chance to start again and to think about what I wanted to do in the future, which felt scary but also exciting.


My passion for creating work for children and families was still very much alive, as well as my interest in dance and music. I wanted to see what might be possible if I explored my practice as a muscian and dancer together and also to continue the journey of making work as a director, rather than a performer.


My drive and ambition was strong and the energy levels were good but I needed feeding...

In January 2023 an opportunity to be part of Little Big Dance Artist Lab at South East Dance in Brighton. I was thrilled that my appliation to be one of the 12 selected internationl group of artists was successful. I spent a week in the studio with 11 other amazing dance artists who came from all over the world, Denmark to Australia, their incredible dance CV's and experience humbled me and I felt honoured to have been selected. The week was faciliated by Dramaturg, Lou Cope, Choreographer, Koen De Preter and Early Years Dance Specialist Hannah Lefeuvre. We danced, we played, we discussed, we shared generously everything we knew and wanted to discover about making dance for Early Years. One of the highlights of the week was inviting a group of early years children into the studio to take part in a non-verbal workshop, facilitated by all of us! It was a magical child led process where we all danced together, the children led, we copied, we offered provocations and for a whole hour we explored and played. There were no rules that were not allowed to be broken, just a loose structure for the workshop. I came away from this inspiring week with the seed of an idea for a new show which I felt very excited about. 


Fast forward to the summer and another exciting CPD opportunity dropped into my lap. I was also keen to explore how I could bring together my two artistic practices as a musician and dancer, which up until now had felt quite separate. In July, I stepped out of my comfort zone to take part in, Magic Acorns, Early Years Incubate with Helena Rodrigues of Companhia de Música Teatral. With music at the root of Helena’s approach, she creates immersive experiences which she defines as “opening the gates on communicative musicality”, with physical theatre, somatic education and free play at its core. Over two days we explored listening, silence, voice and movement to awaken "organic musicianship", connect with ourselves and embrace an awareness of "intuitive caring". I felt utterly inspired and re-energised by the experience and came away bursting with ideas and a renewed confidence to introduce more sound and music into my dance practice.


Meanwhile, I had been beavering away at my desk, a necessary evil, writing funding applications to Arts Council and other local funding pots, as well as getting out there and meeting people, making connections so that I could make it happen. I couldn't believe it when I eventually discovered that all the hard work had paid off and the icing on the cake, Arts Council England wanted to support my work and I'd also been successful in getting funding locally so that I could engage with children and families in schools and the community.


Dance in the Dark was a rich, intense and hugely rewarding process which saw me work with 3 performers, a composer, a dramaturg, a set/costume designer, lighting designer, sound designer and film maker to help me document the process. Co-creation was very much woven into the whole project with workshops, devising in the studio and sharing of ideas. The project culminated with a sharing to an invited audience of children and industry experts at Midlands Arts Centre.


R&D Mini-documentary of the process by InfuseDANCE


Research and development has just finished for Dance in the Dark and I am thrilled with how the project has gone. I've manged to hold on to old collaboarators, as well as find incredible new collaborators which has resulted in me being able to realise my vision for a new show for children and families, and, I love it!


After a super productive and busy year, its once again time to rest and reflect, but one things for sure, the momentum has not dropped, creativity continues to ooze from every pore and the future looks bright.

Performers, Ayesha Fazal & Selene Travaglia from Dance in the Dark R&D

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