Children's festival set to take flight

Digital butterflies, golden starlings, poetry trails and street dancing feature in the city's big event for young people, reports Ian Soutar

THE 2010 Sheffield Children's Festival, jam packed with more than 50 events, performances and exhibitions taking place across the city, gets under way this weekend.

Created by children for children, with the support of Sheffield City Council and sponsors Vinci Education, it will enliven the city with poetry trails, life-size bunnies, dancing in the streets, digital butter?ies, a ?ock of golden starlings and a huge building-size digital portrait over the next three weeks.

There will be a programme of free weekend events for families at city centre locations starting with Chance to Dance, the free dance festival hitting the streets of Sheffield for the tenth year running.

On Saturday more than 60 performances including belly dancing, street,

classical, African, tango, jazz, salsa and tap, will take place every half-hour from 11.15am to 4.15pm in Tudor Square, Barker's Pool, the Peace Gardens, the Winter Garden, Leopold Square and the Upper Chapel forecourt.

A special attraction will be three performances by Sheffield's own tango champion Bill Newby, who with partner Nicky Parsons won the UK Tango Championship in February.

The event will climax with the traditional mass grand finale in the Peace Gardens at 4.15pm.

There's more dance on Tuesday when Funny Bones present DanSence and Go! in the City Hall Ballroom. There will be morning and afternoon shows of the two-part 50-minute performance brought to Sheffield by Danceworks UK.

DanSence is choreographed by Enrique Cabrera and explores the five senses through an interactive dance experience for young audiences featuring newly commissioned music, costumes adorned with plastic spoons and buckets filled with water that soaks the dancers (and the audience).

Go!, choreographed by Luca Silvestrini, is an imaginative and energetic piece of dance theatre based on the theme of sport. The performers move from one sporting discipline to another, facing victories and defeats, competitions and challenges and the audience is called to support and take sides.

Pocket Universe is a free one-day event on Sunday for children and families, organised by Lovebytes and presenting work by a host of internationally acclaimed artists including Mira Calix, Christophe Charles, Taylor Deupree, Evol, Goodie--pal, Hecker, Ryoji Ikeda, Francisco Lpez,Tom Betts, Mehmet Akten, Pete Hellicar, Joel Gethin Lewis and guest curators SND.

Based on the notion that thanks to modern technology we have the universe in our pockets, Pocket Universe explores themes of science and science fiction, parallel universes, interactive media, robots, mobile technology and hand-held devices.

In another Lovebytes enterprise, thousands of butterflies will come to life in a magical exhibition devised by artist Tom Betts and schoolchildren across Sheffield.

The butterflies have been created by 1,000 children aged four to 11 out of card and craft materials during workshops. Combining traditional arts and crafts with modern technology, the children took part in a 'creative production line', where they coded each butterfly with an individual tag.

Flutter will be on show at the Millennium Gallery on Saturday and Sunday, during which children will be able to scan the butterflies using a QR scanner, allowing them to join the animated 'flutter' projected into a giant butterfly net.

A free drop-in craft workshop takes place at the Millennium Gallery on Saturday morning, when children will make insects and then watch how they come to life using computer technology.

Another 1,000 youngsters have helped to create another dazzling spectacle, Flock of Golden Starlings, in a project with Art in the Park which will be on display in Shef?eld Cathedral from Wednesday.

Local poets have been working with schools to create haiku poems to be exhibited as a trail through the city centre starting on The Moor and ?nishing at Bank Street Arts, who are co-ordinating the project.

Future festival attractions include Close Up, an enormous banner on the side of Park Hill Flats showing a huge image of one child made up of tiny photos of pupils from 15 schools from Arbourthorne, Manor and Darnall who have been working with photographer and ?lmmaker Esther Johnson, a performance programme at the Montgomery Theatre, Library Theatre and the City Hall and the Lord Mayor's Parade on July 3 with this year's theme The Nations of the World Cup.

- FORMER Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, one of the best-known figures in the children's book world, is making an appearance at an event organised in conjunction with Off the Shelf.

His award-winning and much-loved work includes We're Going On a Bear Hunt and Don't Put Mustard in the Custard and he is renowned for his entertaining and inspirational talks. His performance on Wednesday June 23 at 1.30pm at the Crucible Theatre is suitable for children aged seven to 12 years – and there is the chance for a school to win a class ticket (maximum 40), if they are quick.

Simply answer the following question: On which date does the Sheffield Children's Festival 2010 start?

Send your answer to Off the Shelf Festival of Writing and Reading, Arts Service, Central Library, Surrey Street, Sheffield S1 1XZ or e-mail offtheshelf@sheffield.gov.uk

The deadline for entries is 1pm on Monday, June 14. The winning school will be the first correct entry drawn and will be informed the following day.