The Red Shoes Project (2008-13) is an artistic and theoretical research project about theatre for the very young. The theatre event (not the artwork in itself) has been studied through three different art settings, following methods and research design from the field of artistic research. The researcher has been the artistic director, and has developed the performances along with an article-based thesis.
The project was concerned with development of musical communication and interplay with the youngest children within the performance setting. The children was given opportunity to play and interact with the performers during the shows, and the research aimed at developing knowledge about forms of interaction and improvisation between artists and children.
De Røde Skoene [the red shoes] (2008) was a dance theatre performance for 1-year olds, Rød Sko Savnet [red shoe missing] (2011) was an art installation for 0-3 year-olds, and Mamma Danser [mum´s dancing] (2011) was an improvised dance concert, also for 0-3 year-olds. All of these productions had red shoes as a connecting theme and playful artistic material. The dramaturgic structure in the three different performances shifted between the traditional common focus from spectators towards the stage, each spectator´s individual focus and the affective multi-focus of the whole event.
A scientific research project generally presupposes a clear focus, a delimited research question and a reflected perspective as essential for the result, whilst the more intuitive and improvised choices inherent in the artistic process can yield another type of knowledge. An interpretative, an instrumental and a performative research perspective are applied to provide a comprehensive picture of the research process. The author concludes that these research perspectives together are helpful methodologies and that the project demonstrates the possibility of creating artistic experiences in reciprocal interaction and improvisation between performers and children.