By Engagement Consultant Claire Venus and her son Leander Venus, aged 8.
In the heart of a bustling outdoor festival this month, we settled in to watch an extraordinary dance show inspired by football called Jumpers for Goalposts.
Taking place in a ‘pop-up’ venue called ‘The Pant House’ field in Felton, Northumberland as part of a summer tour, Meta4 Dance presented the show on a beautiful summer afternoon.
Seven dancers from Meta4 Dance took centre stage, blending the vibrant world of football with the expressive realm of dance. Amongst the crowd of families and retired folk, artists and festival go-ers was an eight year old boy. Jumpers for Goalposts seamlessly merged the world of football with the art of movement. The performers, adorned in colourful football jerseys, took the stage with boundless energy, captivating the audience's attention from the very first beat.
The grassy stage came alive with dynamic choreography, pulsating rhythms, and a visual spectacle that effortlessly fused the love of dance and the spirit of football. The performance was truly exceptional not least because of its interactive and inclusive nature. The dancers skillfully engaged the audience, creating a sense of unity and playful connection.
We found ourselves fully immersed in the experience, my son was clapping, cheering, and even volunteered to join in the choreography in a post-show workshop.
“I learnt all the skills, new skills like rainbow flicks” Leander aged 8
The show's vibrant atmosphere enveloped him and his 'football mad' friends. As he watched the performers gracefully mimic football movements and tell a story full of character through dance, he discovered a profound resonance with their artistry.
The precision of their footwork, the fluidity of their movements, and the power behind their leaps spoke directly to the possibility he wanted to feel in his own body. A world outside of the learning inside a classroom.
The structured choreography in the workshop provided him with a sense of focus and purpose, while the expressive nature of dance allowed him to consider self-expression through stylised movement for the first time.
"I thought it was really cool and exciting to be there. I've never seen anything like that before." Jacob aged 10.
Art has the remarkable power to transcend barriers and ignite a passion.
Through the captivating dance show Jumpers for Goalposts, Leander, a neurodivergent little boy who struggles with his academic subjects discovered the transformative power of movement.
The show's fusion of football and dance created a bridge between his love for the sport and his newfound passion for artistic expression through dance and he is looking forward to joining the company for weekly workshops at our local arts venue and exploring new ways around self expression. Arts experiences start a catalytic reaction in audience members and as his mum I am delighted Leander is interested and curious about the world which has brought me so much joy over my career.
Community Classes - https://meta4dance.com/community-classes
Jumpers for Goalposts Tour - https://meta4dance.com/upcoming-events
About Meta4 in their own words
Meta4 Dance Company are based in rural Northumberland. Set up in 2018 by Charlie Dunne and Lily Horgan, Meta4 is a community-based company with inclusion at its heart.
Meta4 Dance Company’s two aims are:
· Touring high-quality dance opportunities to young people with learning disabilities.
· To bring high-quality dance opportunities into rural locations and communities to break down locational barriers, by speaking and learning from the locals we work with.
Both directors have lived experience with the company's aims. Therefore we believe transparency, inclusion and a welcoming environment are key to communities' involvement in contemporary dance.
When we started the company we discussed how dance can be used as a metaphor as it's defined as "A thing that is representative or symbolic of something else".
Charlie, one of our directors, is also severely dyslexic, and he finds reading words that sound the way they look much easier to read! So we settled with Meta4 - spoken (met-a-for).
Follow up artwork
I asked Leander and his friend to draw a response to their experience. Here are their artworks;