Since 2016, I have been offering dance sessions to children and young people within the Royal Hospital for Sick Children (RHSC) in Edinburgh, assisting in the recuperation of the children's physical and emotional wellbeing. I had no idea what a profound impact these children and young people would have on my own perspective on life, nor how inspired I would be by those I met.
Glimpsing Air Pockets; an immersive, multi-sensory dance theatre production was created as a poetic response from these many beautiful encounters. The project sought to provide high quality creative experiences for children within hospital and to strengthen the relationship between dance and the arts-and-health sector in Scotland.
The creative process for the production was a collaboration with Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC). Working with children and families from the RHSC, patients were invited to create and inspire elements within the choreography, set design, music composition, projection mapping, filmography and voice commands, to be experienced by the immersive audience within the final performance.
ECHC integrated the workshops into their Arts Programme’s Easter Holiday activities. These workshops were each delivered in playrooms and by bedsides. Each session was uniquely adapted for the child or young person we were working with. For each element the artists were bringing into the hospital workshops, it was wonderful to see how the children, young people and families developed, adapted or completely changed and inspired what was created. Feedback was received from the artists delivering the workshops that it was incredible to witness and experience this. What had been created by the children and young people had completely surpassed our original expectations. The contributions that were created within the workshops, then directly influenced and inspired the development of the production in July 2019.
Glimpsing Air Pockets premiered as part of Dance Base's award-winning Edinburgh's Festival Fringe programme 2019. It was then performed at Central Hall in October and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in November.
The project was supported by Creative Scotland, Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity, Curious Seed and Dance Base.
Image by Simon M Scott