The choreographer, dance educator and social sciences PhD Birutė Banevičiūtė (b. 1967) has put on over 20 contemporary dance performances for children and adults and has created choreography for stage plays.
Banevičiūtė studied at Vilnius University, where she qualified as a biology and chemistry lecturer in 1990. She also studied a wide range of contemporary dance techniques, improvisation and composition, and dance education, in the USA, the UK, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Poland, and at various seminars in Lithuania. In 2009, Banevičiūtė defended her PhD thesis in social sciences (education studies) entitled ‘Developing Dance Skills in Early Adolescence’. Between 2006-2016, she taught at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences. Currently, she holds seminars for dancers as a visiting lecturer at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, as well as various educational seminars for dancers, dance teachers and choreographers in Lithuania and abroad.
In 2007, Banevičiūtė was the first dance professional in Lithuania to create professional contemporary dance performances for children. She founded the dance theatre Dansema, and still works as its artistic director. The only professional contemporary dance theatre for children and youth in Lithuania, it creates work for different age groups, even for babies. There are currently eight dance performances by Banevičiūtė in the theatre’s repertoire, created specifically with little members of the audience in mind. In 2016, her performance for 6-36 month-olds under the title Colourful Games (Spalvoti žaidimai) was awarded the Golden Cross of the Stage in the category of theatre for children and youth.
The dance theatre Dansema often tours not only in Lithuania but also abroad and has performed at festivals and on stage in Belgium, China, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Sweden, the UK, Ukraine and the USA.
The years 2019-2020 were especially productive for Banevičiūtė: two new dance performances for babies were added to Dansema’s repertoire and three to programmes of other theatres. In 2019, together with Dansema dancers, she created the mono performances Meadow (Pievelė, for 6-18 months old babies) and Watchmaker (Laikrodininkas, for 8-18 months old babies), and together with Ukrainian actors, the performance Tick Tock (Tik Tak, for 8-18 months old babies). In 2020, Kaunas State Puppet Theatre hosted the premiere of the interactive movement performance Little Worlds (Pasaulėliai) for 10-24-month-old infants, and together with Germany-based dancers Raimonda Gudavičiūtė and Verena Kutschera created the performance Forest (Miškas) for 8-24-month-old babies, which premiered at the Gallus Theatre in Frankfurt in March 2020.
One of the latest performances for infants created at Banevičiūtė’s dance theatre Dansema is Watchmaker (Laikrodininkas, 2019). It is an interactive musical performance for children from 8 to 18 months. The performance balances between concreteness and abstraction. Although the performance is obviously inspired by a clock, its mechanism and details, it is not a story about the creation of the clock mechanism or its creator. In fact, it is not a story at all, but rather a game with a stage partner – a Watchmaker embodied alternately by Mantas Stabačinskas or Marius Pinigis (although the set design features quite a few clocks). The little ones start connecting the world into a systems only at about 15 months, so the Watchmaker’s invitation to explore separate details still offers a lot of joy to the little viewers. Banevičiūtė’s
dance performances, which take into account the stages of infants’ and children’s development and its nuances, are characterised by gentle involvement, original, subtle musical background and attention to and respect for the youngest of audiences.