Created by choreographer Hélène Langevin, this playful work is ideal for four to 10-year olds, but as Amélie Gauthier, executive director with Bouge de là points out, it’s really for everybody. “We get great reactions from parents and grandparents as well,” says Gauthier. “They get it too and really enjoy the show.” The show encourages physical involvement and ‘The 26 Letter Dance’ also challenges children’s imaginations and encourages creativity.
While on a tour of British Columbia in 2011, Langevin came up with the idea to create a dance where words would drive the performance. Inspired by children’s ABC books that she found in libraries, Langevin was ready to work with dancers to bring her alphabet-dance to life by 2014. Her idea was to present to the audience how to discover words through dancing and acting – to make words visible. So, the dancers begin with A and work their way through the alphabet to Z. “Since the show premiered in 2016, we’ve done almost 250 performances,” says Gauthier. “’The 26 Letter Dance’ has even done performances in China and the Chinese children reacted in the same place that other audiences reacted. That says to me that dance really is a universal language.”
Before each performance, children learn a bit of choreography so they can react with different scenes. Gauthier says it’s interesting to see how children react to different aspects of the performance. “There are 16 scenes in the show and it’s fun to see what the children get up and dance to,” she says. “Each letter gets a distinct response.” The show is not just dance, but theatre as well. “Sometimes there are hidden words that start with the letter of the scene,” says Gauthier, “and the children have to work out what is going on – it’s not only a good intellectual challenge, but highly entertaining for everyone.” And it’s entertaining for the performers as well. “Our dancers get a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment out of each of the performance,” says Gauthier. “They love the positive energy they get from the audience.”
This will be the first time that ‘The 26 Letter Dance’ has performed at the Shenkman Arts Centre and Gauthier says they are looking forward to it. “Right after our November show in Ottawa the troupe is off to Mexico,” says Gauthier. Bouge de là is preparing a version of the show in Spanish. “You have to think about how words translate in each language, so it’s appropriate. We don’t want any rude mistakes,” laughs Gauthier. View ‘The 26 Letter Dance’ video at www.bougedela.org and find out more.
‘The 26 Letter Dance’ will be presented in the Richcraft Theatre on Saturday, November 2. Get your tickets early as this show is going to sell out quickly. Visit www.shenkmanarts.ca for ticket information.