Children and war dance onto campus

By James Keller

While the University Theatre is typically filled with university drama, dance or music students, this weekend it will be taken over by a different breed of performers–some of whom are over 10 years removed.

"These kids work just as hard as adults," says Children in Dance organizer Emily Forrest, comparing the commitment and responsibilities of the children dancers to their adult counterparts. "But you can’t capture the same type of imagination from an adult. In that regard, there is more possibilities working with kids in dance. They just bring this creativity into the rehearsal process that adults can’t."

Their latest production, Martin the Warrior, is an adaptation of the book of the same name from the popular Red Wall series. It follows a group of freedom fighters who, after escaping from a tyrannical leader, try to organize an uprising. Despite the lack of detailed, spoken script–the production does feature some dialogue from the performers–Forrest feels that dance is still a very effective medium from which to tell a story.

"It’s very easy to tell stories in dance," she explains. "You can depict emotion, environment and mood, so it’s very easy to get a sense of character."

Even though the dancers range from 7-17 years of age, the creative process was much the same had the dancers been adults in a professional company. Working with professional choreographers, the dancers had lots of input and have added a lot to the performance.

"Since we’re working in the same manner, the only limitation is that they’re shorter," laughs Forrest.

Working with children performers, especially since the characters are personified rodents, might seem inaccessible for older audiences. However, Forrest points out that, especially in light of recent events, the themes are very universal–even to children when current world issues may seem very complicated.

"This particular story is so much about war," says Forrest. "All of the sudden the issues in the story are becoming parallel to issues in the world, so kids are relating to it. They’re seeing examples of justified and unjustified war and they’re seeing examples of the price of war."


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