Wriggle Dance Theatre create theatrical dance performances for young children and their grown-ups. Their latest production, Squidge, is an interactive dance performance with live music and digital projection, which takes a light-hearted look at our sense of touch and how it influences our everyday lives. At the heart of their show is a tale of friendship, compromise and how each and every one of us needs touch to make us feel alive! We hosted an interview with Lucy Knight, Co-Director of Wriggle Dance Theatre to find out more about who they are and what Squidge is about.
Interview with Lucy Knight, Co-Director of Wriggle Dance Theatre
Who are you, how did you start dancing and how did Wriggle come about?
I am Co-Director of Wriggle Dance Theatre. I started dancing at the age of 5 at my local dance school, and then by age 16, went on to do professional training at London Studio Centre and The London Contemporary Dance School.
I met the other Wriggle Co-Director Kath when we both worked at NorthantsDance, which at the time was a dance agency based within Northamptonshire County Council. We both had young children at the time and so felt passionate about making high-quality work for young audiences. We started by making a show with our children and then went on to develop both our performance and outreach programme of work over the last 12 years with Wriggle becoming a registered charity in 2010.
What is your latest show about, and how is it different?
‘Squidge’ is a fun interactive dance performance with live music and digital projection, which takes a light-hearted look at our sense of touch and how it influences our everyday lives. At the heart of the show is a tale of friendship, compromise and how each and every one of us needs touch to make us feel alive!
It is different because audiences sit in their own special seating area where they can explore magical light-up boxes, full of exciting textures for little hands which delight and tickle the senses. This idea came about from the Covid pandemic as we were devising the show during this period. It gave the option to keep audiences separate and socially distanced from each other if these restrictions were necessary and allowed our work to still be interactive. It has enabled us to find a new way of interacting with the audience and for Squidge to feel very immersive and engaging for the families.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy researching and devising our performance work. This is a process that can take up to a couple of years and involves initially brainstorming some ideas around our chosen theme, followed by some time in the studio with performers, to test out these ideas. Wriggle co-creates the work with our target audiences, and so go through a process of taking initial ideas to the children and families, by visiting schools, children’s centres and libraries etc, to try out elements and to ask for their input and ideas. This then is fed into the work and we would then go back to the studio to finally devise the show.
How do you see your role in the dance community?
Wriggle has toured nationally 3 shows for young children and families, as well as devised and toured many works for non-theatre spaces. We have become a highly respected company for this work and see our role to make engaging, high quality and accessible work for young children and families and to ensure our work reaches underserved and hard to reach audiences. We also have developed strong partnerships with on the ground organisations in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, where the majority of our education and outreach work takes place, to ensure we can target families who may not otherwise have access to our work.
What’s the funniest thing to ever happen during one of your shows?
There is a lot of slime featured in Squidge, so having a mind of its own, it is the constant source of many funny moments! Sometimes it is slimier than others and can fly all over the stage, splatting the performers in an unplanned way!
Did the pandemic pose any challenges or change how you delivered your work?
Yes, we had funding for several projects when the pandemic hit, and so had to re-think how we delivered these. We took most of our work online, and some of our performance work was postponed. We did make a new show in the pandemic though, specifically for touring to older people’s doorsteps, who had become isolated in their homes. We also developed a whole series of ‘Wriggle at Home’ videos through our YouTube channel
What’s in store for the rest of 2022 and further ahead for Wriggle?
During the Autumn we are also touring an interactive film of Squidge to schools, theatres and rural touring venues where the audience still sit in the interactive seating areas and there is 1 performer facilitating some interactive elements through the film. We are also developing some resources for schools based on the themes of Squidge which will be a combination of filmed and written CPD tools for teachers. And further ahead? Well, the next show is in the thinking stages….
Where can I watch Wriggle Dance Theatre?
If you’d like to catch Wriggle Dance Theatre in action, you can immerse yourself in their experience at Warwick Arts Centre from the 29th – 31st May 2022. Children aged 3-8 years and their grown-ups will sit in their own special seating area where you can explore magical light-up boxes, full of exciting textures for little hands which will delight and tickle your senses. One to get you wriggling! For tickets and more information, see: https://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/squidge-presented-by-wriggle-dance-theatre-2460/
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