Review: Baby Space At The Artground

There are plenty of art and culture events and programmes for young children in Singapore, given the greater interest amongst parents in exposing their little ones to the arts. However, if you are looking for something for your kid who is just past 12 months or younger, your options are limited in Singapore. That’s why we were pleased to learn that The Artground, Singapore’s newest arts space for children was staging a version of Baby Space, a show that is produced with pre-walking little ones in mind.

Baby Space was developed by Sweden-based artist, Dalijia Acin Thelander, who specialises in crafting works that engage young audiences, and it is an intimate and immersive choreographed installation that fuses dance, music and visual arts. The show has been performed around the world, including China, Japan, Denmark and Poland, and many babies have been enthralled by the ethereal like performance.

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We were lucky enough to score a spot in one of the performances during the first run of the show and before we entered the performance space, we were told to take note of the following points:
1. Only babies who are not able to walk yet were allowed into the performance – this is to prevent any accidents from happening as walkers might start romping around the space.
2. Each performance accommodates a maximum of 12 babies, and each baby should be accompanied by just one adult. Space is limited inside the performance space so any more people in the space would not be optimal for everyone to enjoy the performance.
3. Be prepared to do a thorough wipe down of you and your baby’s hands and feet, and adults have to put on paper booties. Once you enter the space itself, you’ll understand why.

Once everyone was ready with paper booties and all, the doors to the performance stage were finally open and in front of us was a pristine white space that had a dreamlike quality to it. From top to bottom, everything was covered in a white stretchy material that divided the room into two, one with a tent like structure with holes and the other, a room with white tulle fabric hanging down, as if it were mimicking white fluffy clouds. There were also white cushion like objects of various shapes that mummies and daddies promptly took to letting their little ones rest on.

After one last briefing, a lithing yet soothing music was played, signalling the start of the performance. Two dancers clothed in white emerged and moved gracefully to the melody, engaging not just one another, but also the little ones that surrounded them through simple movements, such as “linking” the audience members together through touch points or picking up the soft white cushions to attract their attention. As the music changed, so did the movements, but there were always purposeful actions that were used to engage the babies at the show.

You would have thought that a 20-minute long performance would surely see some babies breaking out in cries, but there was none of that during the show we attended. Perhaps it was the soothing music or the tinted lighting, but though not every single mini audience member was engaged all the time, no one cried throughout the entire time. In fact, the dancers did mention before the performance started that it was ok to let the children not have their full attention on the dancers at all time as the point was to let the little ones respond to the piece in their own way. That said, there weren’t too many moments where the babies didn’t have their eyes on the dancers.

After the performance, babies and adults alike were welcome to explore the entire installation, and we made a beeline for the other room with the “tent”. The kids enjoyed exploring the space and climbing through the various holes and space they could. You might say that the adults enjoyed it more, lying on the soft cushioned flooring and listening to the light background music. We weren’t just the only grown ups that were really enjoying the space as most of our fellow mummy audience members were lingering around and told us that they were surprised that their usually fidgety babies were engaged for as long as they were and were really smiley throughout the entire performance.

Overall, Baby Space was a really unique experience that we fell in love with, and with his senses so heightened during the performance, our baby fell promptly asleep as soon as we started the journey home.

Baby Space is a multisensory installation designed for babies 16 months and under, where contemporary dance, music, poetry and visual art meld together to form an immersive encounter with the arts. The 2017 run of the show has ended, but it will be back in 2018. Click here to be updated with the latest details of Baby Space performances in Singapore.

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