Interview: Dansema artistic director Birutė Banevičiūtė – 'Everywhere we perform, the kids don't want to leave the stage afterwards'

Lithuanian dance company Dansema discovered that the best way to make work for babies and toddlers, is to echo their curiosity

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Fringe interview: Dansema – 'Everywhere we perform, the kids don't want to leave the stage afterwards'

Immersive dance and theatre continues to be in vogue – which puts Dansema and its artistic director, Birutė Banevičiūtė, at the vanguard of live performance in her native Lithuania. But when she founded the company in 2007, Dansema was the first in the country to create contemporary dance theatre of any kind for babies and small children.

'We had strong ballet and folk dance traditions,' says Banevičiūtė, citing Cinderella, Snow White and folk dance performed by children as examples. 'But there was no contemporary dance for young audiences.'

Featuring a bright circus setting, and aimed at tots up to age 3, the interactive solo Colourful Games grew out of a strategic creation process. 'I noticed that very small children don't know how to use the props we use in the performance – ribbons, hula hoops, balls, clown noses. Instead they explore them – putting them in the mouth, throwing them on the floor or crawling inside.

'So I decided to explore those things as if I myself didn't know how to use them culturally. We play with things, and challenge ourselves and our audiences to explore objects in various ways.'

As Banevičiūtė sums up, 'Everywhere we perform, the kids don't want to leave the stage space afterwards.' Why? 'Because we understand each other.'

Zoo, 8–20 Aug (not 14), 10.45am, £5. Previews 5 & 6 Aug, £5.

Colourful Games

Dansema Dance Theatre Games are more than just fun for babies and small children, taking up most of their time in the first years of their life. By playing, they explore and learn about themselves and the surrounding world: to sit and crawl, climb and jump, grasp and drop, catch and kick, smile and frown, share and…

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