An invitation to Echo Echo Parent and Toddler classes – creative movement and play for pre-school children

Echo Echo Full Size (16)

Our parent and toddler classes are ongoing through to June 2016. They aren’t every week and you can come to one, some or all of them.

They are for adults and children aged 4 and under.

The classes offer a lot of freedom to play in movement and, naturally, through this play to develop physical co-ordination, strength and confidence as well as communication abilities. The classes are a great way to introduce your child to joining in with group activities and sharing time and space with others.

Every person’s early movement experience, from womb through birth and into early childhood is fundamentally interactive; a series of duets with mother, other close adults and gradually with other children. In these classes we begin from that fundamental intimacy, we emphasise movement relationships between the adults and the children and give a chance for the parents to remember the pleasure of playing, exploring and expressing oneself in movement, and for the children to enjoy their parents in a time and space that allows their connection to be the focus without distractions of practical tasks, toys or screens. The classes include some copying and some time in a circle, we spin, slide roll, run and they always involve direct physical contact between parent and child; rolling together, climbing, lifting and so on.

We have a very organic sense of discipline and we allow all the participants to find their way through the class as they feel. Generally we have noticed that if the adults do the class fully the children will find their way in and out according to their own attention spans.

We use a variety of music which includes African, Cuban, folk, singer songwriter and gentle electronica.

The classes are normally taught by Echo Echo artistic director, Steve Batts, who has many years of experience of teaching children and adults. Usually he is joined by his four year old daughter Dara who co-teaches with him, showing ways to do the dances and moves together.

If you think you’d enjoy this please do come along to try it out. If you’d like to find out more before coming don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to have a chat.


Echo Echo Parent & Toddler classes

With Steve Batts and Dara

Saturdays 2.30pm – 3.30pm

Continues 30th April; 14th, 21st May; 4th, 18th June

Cost £6/class

Parent feedback from previous Echo Echo Parent & Toddler classes

“My son’s confidence has really benefited, he loves dancing and the big open space to enjoy it.”

“Love being with my child in an open friendly and fun filled environment.“

“I was so afraid to go out with a two year old who is full of beans. Here there is no judgement. Fantastic. Thanks.”

“Approach was perfect for the age group – allowing the kids to join in or out when they needed to.”


Images by Patrick Duddy Photography

Echo Echo Technical Workshop in ‘Sound and Lighting Techniques for Theatre’

Recently we carried out a workshop at Echo Echo in ‘Sound and Lighting Techniques for Theatre’ as part of Kabosh/Libraries NI Workshops event and led by our very own technical manager, Barry Davis.

The workshop covered a multitude of technical theatre skills through a practical hands-on approach, such as: proper setup of a PA system; gain structure and feedback elimination; stage etiquette and working with musicians; lighting equipment, lighting design and cue building.

Here is some feedback from the participants:

“Very friendly, calm and knowledgeable – we were encouraged to ask questions and use the equipment ourselves.”

“Really good, simple, casual, conversational so it was good to ask questions.”

“The information about sound and setting up a PA, including practical info about how to deal with feedback and working with eq was very useful.”

Following the success of this event we are hoping to develop these workshops in the future, and would encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in technical theatre, or who has an interest in sound and lighting to contact us regarding further workshops.

Reflections of Echo Echo Associate Artistic Director, Ayesha Mailey


Tonya Sheina and Ayesha Mailey perform at Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement

Last month on 24th March we had a lovely lunchtime performance in our studio theatre. It’s something we want to do regularly again and we’ve pencilled in another date in May – details coming soon.  These performances give us an opportunity to focus on a particular theme or interest and present it as a short piece for an audience. Within the ensemble there are always lots of creative ideas floating around. Some of these ideas can be realised into projects whereas others never get a chance to flourish for various reasons such as time, money or resources. But performances like these can happen fairly easily and it gives us a chance to cook some of our ideas. We have dancers who love to dance and create together, a beautiful space and wonderful hard working staff.

When I began writing this entry for the blog I thought I wanted to reflect on the lunchtime performance we did in March. I wanted to write about how we created this work as an ensemble. We didn’t have one director. We were all the choreographers, performers and directors of the piece. We collaborated. But as I began writing about our working methods and the concepts of our Artistic Director, Steve Batts, I thought I’d rather write about how Steve and Ursula Laeubli made it possible for us, in the ensemble, to collaborate and to create these lunchtime performances and everything else we do at Echo Echo.

Steve and Ursula founded Echo Echo in 1991 and moved the company to Derry 1997. I was one of their first students at the age of seventeen. I was so inspired by them. I remember standing in a circle doing a breathing exercise and I knew somehow I had found my place and my people. I’ve grown up in the company and I watched Steve and Ursula work ridiculously hard to create the environment that we have today. I know one of their dreams was to have a home for Echo Echo and an ensemble of dancers and it was mine too. We had different versions of this over the years but they were never quite right. At one point I was the only ensemble member actually living in Derry! I was lonely. I needed people to dance and create with. Now after many years and a few false starts we have one. We have an amazing facility to create and perform in. We also have a technician that makes our production dreams come true. We can create work a lot easier that we could a few years ago.  The rest of our present ensemble were also students of Steve and Ursula. They opened the door to this world for all of us, provided training, space and mentoring. They made it possible for us to work professionally and allowed us to have the confidence in our own ability.

We’re so lucky to have Steve as our Artistic Director at Echo Echo. He’s got over thirty years of experience developing dance, theatre and movement projects in Northern Ireland and abroad. He has a unique way of looking at dance and theatre that is inspiring to many. Much of what he says (and he says a lot! It’s quite a gift he has!!!) just makes good theatre sense. For me, when he talks about a concept or process, he has an amazing way of describing what you, in retrospect already know but didn’t realise you knew and what you could never communicate so articulately anyway. Emily Welther, who is a long term collaborator of Echo Echo and based in Germany, said to me once “every time I do a project with Steve I feel like I’m getting an education”.  We have all learned and continue to learn so much from him.

Steve has always encouraged us to dedicate time to our own artistic development and practice by having studio time alone and with others and making space to reflect, write, read and observe. His work has given us an amazing ground to create our choreographic projects. We couldn’t have made Open House, Ludo Lusi Lusum, Lost in Frost, our solo works or individual projects if Steve hadn’t put in an enormous amount of time and effort into developing a shared movement world with us. Our lunchtime performances and all the work we do have this ground underneath it.


There are lots of artistic desires and creative ideas floating about the Echo Echo ether. We work hard to realise these but we don’t get to do all the projects we want. Like many artists we don’t make much money. We could always do lots of things better but we’re committed to learning, growing and evolving as an ensemble. Steve and Ursula made this possible. With the anniversary of Ursula’s death days away I wonder what she would think about what we are doing. I hope she wouldn’t mind our persistent lateness, messiness and that sometimes we leave half-living/dead flowers in a vase. I hope she would see that little by little we are working to create something special and that it’s all being so well taken care of by Steve and supported amazingly by Ailbe, Anna and Barry.

Ayesha Mailey, Echo Echo Associate Artistic Director

Echo Echo shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Culture in North West Business Awards

The shortlist for the 2016 North West Business Awards managed by Chamber of Commerce and City Centre Initiative were announced today.

Echo Echo is pleased to be shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Culture category along with our good friends and colleagues at Earagail Arts Festival, City of Derry Choral Festival and UV Arts.

We are happy to see that In Your Space have been nominated for Best Tourism Event for the brilliant Carnival of Colours too.

You can read the full list of categories and shortlisted companies here. Best of luck to all the finalists.

Here is a reminder of a just a few highlights from the last year in Echo Echo:

LUDO LUSI LUSUM at Echo Echo Studios (June) and Baby Day Belfast (September)




BODY WISDOM – Performances inspired by W.B.Yeats, continuing weekly sessions, performance at Echo Echo Festival Open Studio, development of a new work with Steve Batts and Echo Echo Ensemble, shortlisted for an EPIC Award 2016


ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE PROGRAMME at Echo Echo Studios welcomed local, national and international artists including: Oona Doherty, Maria Svensson, Lihi Shivak and James King, Jusztina Hermann and Robert Peoples, Caitriona McLaughlin and Immram company, Nick Bryson and company


PRIMARY SCHOOLS DANCE DEVELOPMENT – Echo Echo worked with 15 local primary schools and hundreds of local schoolchildren on participation programmes supported by Derry and Strabane District Council, the Ernest Cook Trust and others


Some wonderful moments among many, many more artistic projects and events throughout 2015/16.

With thanks as always to the artists, staff, volunteers, audiences, participants, funders and partners who make Echo Echo’s work possible.

Ailbe Beirne, Company Manager