Monday, October 17, 2011

This Baby Life

Presented at Art Play, Melbourne
October 13 -16, 2011
Created by Sally Chance

As we enter the warm, light filled space at ArtPlay, surrounded by mums and babies seated on soft pastel rugs, a sense of community is instantly established. Gentle music plays in the background, people smile and murmur. It’s a good place to be, the energy is positive and gentle.

And when Heather Frahn begins to sing, simple syllables and baby-like vocalisations in a lilting melody, it becomes clear that this experience will be about more than just warmth and light and comfort, it will also be very beautiful.

Created by Adelaide-based artist Sally Chance, This [Baby] Life is a half-hour of gently immersive, quietly playful art for babies aged four months to eighteen months. The babies are free to crawl and totter around the space, or remain closely snuggled with their carer. Adventurous little ones may find themselves playing peekaboo with a friendly adult, or having a blanket swirled through the air above their heads.

There’s nothing sudden or frightening or boisterous here, just gorgeous music and pleasant dance, performed by a trio of friendly grown-ups.

Dancers Tuula Roppola and Stephen Noonan crawl about the space, making eye contact with their young audience and mirroring the babies’ actions. Some children find it quite fascinating, to have a big person nearby who moves just like themselves. The crawling action flows into a floor-based movement sequence, set to Frahn’s wonderful instrumental sounds.

Mandola, melodic steel drums and a caxixi shaker combined with amplified voice allow for a variety of sounds and tonal colours, while keeping the music simple and soothing. The familiar melody of Row Row Row Your Boat is used several times, cocooning the young audience in familiarity while also coaxing them into a new environment. At an energetic moment, egg-shaped rattles are offered to the little people so that they can join in the bouncy music making.

As the final sleepy notes subside, there’s no rush to leave the room. That gentle energy remains, as do the performers and the instruments, allowing time for play and conversation and thanks giving for such a thoughtfully devised, nurturing experience.

1 comment:

  1. This would have been a cool experience. Too bad I wasn't able to come.