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Ways Of Knowing: New Dance and the importance of movement, creativity and learning for young children

INHABIT is Bluecoat’s three year programme of new & improvised dance with Liverpool Improvisation Collective, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

This February, as part of INHABIT Bluecoat will be hosting Ways of Knowing; an event organised by dance artist Paula Hampson which will explore and celebrate the creative, curious nature of children.

 Paula Hampson, has been working as a dance performer, maker and teacher for nearly thirty years and through this event she hopes to inspire, provoke and offer different perspectives on the fundamentals and alternative ways of learning.

Paula explained what inspired her to bring the event together:

“In 2017 I created a new solo work Wonder which touches on the importance of play, curiosity and observation and reflects the innocence and playfulness of shared inquiry. The piece integrates film footage of my son, movement, sound and visuals. 

Ways of Knowing is a progression of this work and an opportunity to show Wonder in a different context, giving new opportunities to open up rich dialogue and exchange practice with others. I have invited 3 contributors with a shared interest in learning and education whom I have known for several years in different capacities. 

As a parent of two children I have witnessed first-hand and engaged with the challenges and impact that the current education system is placing upon the health and well-being of young children.”

Ways of Knowing is a full day event for parents, carers, teachers and artists that will reflect INHABIT’s values of authenticity, celebration of the independent dancer and the importance of non-dance specialists in creating new works that appeal to a wide variety of people; from those who are new to the art form to dance specialists.

The day will involve a full line up of talks, workshop and performances in collaboration with fellow dance artists, educators and performers including Catherine Starky, Sarah Black and Grace Surman.

 Catherine Starky is an Early Years Consultant who specialises in emergent curricula and holistic education. As part of Ways of Knowing Catherine will be presenting a background of her work as an educator and facilitator using emergent styles of teaching, including the Reggio Emilia approach. Catherine aims to explore some possibilities for maintaining wonder and curiosity in children’s education and in teaching, despite an increasingly pressurised education system.

Sarah Black is a dancer, installation artist and educator, lecturing at Liverpool Hope University. During the course of the day, Sarah will present a paper that outlines her role as the mother-artist making performance art with her children, examining ideas surrounding art making as an extension of mothering and a projection of care; values which reflect her ideological and ethical practice as an artist. 

With over 20 years’ experience of making solo and collaborative work, Grace Surman’s practice circulates around the realms of performance, live art, theatre and choreography. As part of Ways of Knowing, Grace will present and then discuss her new work created in collaboration with Merrick Surman and Gary Winters - Would You Rather Be Lost. In this piece, Grace intends to catch the particular physicality of father and son at their given ages, but also home in on the unrelenting love between parent and child.

Paula Hampson will be performing WONDER, which was previously performed at Bluecoat in July as part of the Abacus exhibition for children. The piece stems from Paula’s particular interest in learning and education and draws on her personal experiences and those of her nine year old son. The work encapsulates what it means to be a child; to play and to be curious.

Paula invites parents, carers and teachers to share ideas about movement, creativity and learning for children. The presentations, workshop, discussion and performances hope to inspire and offer time to contemplate and reflect upon creative Ways of Knowing.   

Ways of Knowing will take place on Saturday 3rd February, 10am - 6pm


Image credit: Katrina Shock


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