A World of Dance for York's Young People
“To bring the arts to children is the greatest gift we can give them, and the greatest benefit to us all.”
~ Jamila Gavin, children’s author
With your help, we want to invite York’s young minds into the rich world of dance theatre, as active spectators and as participants; we want to honour their right to experience and enjoy the benefits of this particular art form.
Dance theatre not only entertains; it sparks the imagination, provides tools for expression, and increases our ability to empathise. Now, more than ever, we need a rising generation which is equipped with these skills and abilities.
Here, we are asking for financial support in order to begin the research and development phase of our first project – a piece of dance theatre inspired by the French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns’ glorious musical suite, ‘Carnival of the Animals’.
With the combined expertise of our cast of dancers, choreographers and writers, we aim to create an exciting and original piece, which is the perfect introduction to dance theatre for children and their families.
A letter from Hayley Del Harrison, Founder and Artistic Director of DEL Dance Theatre, a professional dance company based in the City of York in North Yorkshire:
Thank you for taking the time to understand the vision of DEL Dance Theatre and our reasons for seeking funding. I hope the information here will not only encourage you to help fund our first project, but to do it with confidence – and a glint in your eye!
If, after reading the information below, you still have questions lingering in your mind, please do not hesitate to post a comment and we will endeavour to provide an answer at the earliest opportunity.
With best wishes,
Why our children need dance theatre
Above all else, it is the RIGHT of children and young people to have access to the arts, as stipulated in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
“Every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”
The benefits of theatre for children and young people are well-documented, and there is an extensive body of work relating to the specific benefits of dance theatre for these audiences. Of particular relevance is the concept of ‘kinesthetic empathy’:
“Spectators of dance experience kinesthetic empathy when, even while sitting still, they feel they are participating in the movements they observe, and experience related feelings and ideas.” ~ Watching Dance
Dancing into the future
As dramatist and theatre essayist, Lauren Gunderson, writes in the Huffington Post, “Theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring. Kids need this kind of practice even more than adults do. This is going to be their planet and they’ve got more time to apply that empathy and make a difference.”
The arts, including dance, also open up young minds to non-verbal forms of expression, which allow them to engage in meaningful dialogue, regardless of their age, education or background. People often underestimate the power of music, art and dance and how they can provide new ways of expressing what one sees, hears and feels.
Dance theatre in York
For a relatively small city, York has a thriving arts scene, with both visiting and local artists contributing to what’s on offer. But home-grown dance theatre – for children, in particular - isn’t well represented. We aim to fill that gap.
We are also keen to draw on the talent and skills of so-called ‘mature’ dancers living in the area (these people should be cherished, not side-lined!), and provide opportunities for them to share their experience and knowledge. These professionals have had extensive dance and theatre careers that have taken them all over the world. For us to be able to bring them together and create a company of eclectic talent is very exciting.
Nurturing local talent
As our company grows, we would also like to be able to offer opportunities to local dance students and graduates. By allowing them to be involved with a professional company and experience guest teachers and coaching from company dancers, we aim to give these promising young artists something to aspire to and access easily.
Our first project
The plan for our artistic programme is to begin with The Carnival of the Animals, inspired by the musical suite by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. As this is for a family audience we would like to blend a variety of dance styles into the piece, all of which can be extracted from the slightly unconventional original music from 1886.
We’re thrilled to have secured Philip Goulding as dramaturge on our creative team. Philip is an award-winning playwright, lyricist, librettist and has written stage plays as well as for TV and radio.
Although the title might suggest a tale that is merely about dancing animals, Philip has helped us to see other possibilities and we’ve been working with him on developing a charming storyline to weave through the existing musical score – the perfect introduction to dance theatre for children.
Share our journey!
We love our city, and like many Yorkshire people we’re immensely proud of both our county and our roots. So we want to bring Yorkshire people along with us on our journey - to share our passion and help further our company goals. That would be just wonderful.
There’s a real sense of community in York and people have already started to support us in kind in so many ways - with studio space for rehearsals and professional photographers offering their services for our PR material, for example. It’s really touching.
We like that everyone can have a role to play in helping the company to grow and flourish. From the professional dancers involved in our work, to the people who enjoy watching dance and want us to succeed.-From the local artists and musicians who want to collaborate with us, to the local schools and parents who want more dance and theatre opportunities for their children. And, of course, our investors - the people who wish to support us financially.
All these people matter to us - we couldn’t do it without them, and we really wouldn’t want to. We’re a team - a Yorkshire Team!