Come one, come all! We’re just a couple of days away from the launch of ŻiguŻajg’s ninth edition, and oh boy are we excited. The ŻiguŻajg International Arts Festival for Children and Young People is set to include 10 days of exciting performances and activities for children of all ages (even those young at heart) across disciplines such as theatre, music, and dance.
We caught up with some familiar faces from across the arts in Malta who have little ones of their own to discuss the importance of the arts for kids and all things ŻiguŻajg.
Malta’s favourite pop-star mama Ira Losco has dedicated her life to music
And so naturally her little boy Harry has grown up surrounded by it. But Ira has made it a point to make sure her little one is exposed to the arts as often as possible, and not just because his mother’s a singer.
“I find it extremely important, especially in a country like ours which has always been obsessed with academic achievement. Whilst I find it is important to take studies seriously, I find it crucial to expose our younger and future generation to the arts. I’m looking forward to visiting with Harry this year because he absolutely loves music, singing, poetry, theatre and anything artistic. It would be wonderful to spend time with him enjoying the arts at ŻiguŻajg.”
Alan Paris is a prominent player in the local theatre scene
Taking centre-stage for many years now, Alan has a very passionate love for the performing arts. And thanks to ŻiguŻajg, he gets to share that love with his kids every year.
“Our kids have been exposed to theatre from a very young age. Live storytelling feeds and exercises their imagination. Nothing beats it. We take the kids every year.”
The variety of performances at ŻiguŻajg crosses a super vast range of styles, disciplines, themes and subjects.
“The festival puts the kids in a room with people performing right there, in front of them. This gives the kids the chance to think ‘You know what? I could do that?’ (even after watching acrobats!).”
And another super-star mummy Clare Agius also gives the arts very high importance in her kids’ upbringing
As a presenter, many of the skills passed on through performance training are essential when it comes to Clare’s career. She considers arts and culture a part of what she calls ‘soft teachings’ that will ensure us humans “grow up to be different from machines”.
“We must ensure our children have access to these valuable experiences because it is through them and other soft skills that the human spirit can survive and make something good out of their lives.”
Her kids enjoy watching performances from all disciplines and styles, and when a piece of art truly grasps them, they feel mesmerised.
“I recently took them to watch a dance performance, it was contemporary dance and no other kids were there. They were captivated and for an hour they did not move. They even amazed me! Music is still their favourite, I feel, but they have watched theatre pieces, especially with puppetry and shadow theatre, that engaged them.”
And finally, heart-throb dad Ben Camille and baby Elle love to get their wiggle on
She might still be really little, but Ben and Elle love to spend some quality time listening to music together.
“Elle loves music and we love singing and dancing together! Elle loves to dance (or rather wiggle her head like one of those bobbleheads people put on their dashboards) when she hears music or simply listens to someone sing or whistle. It’s so cute!”
As an actor, Ben understands the importance of the performing arts in education.
The 9th edition of ŻiguŻajg Festival features 21 projects and 12 creative forms
Some of the best art companies from Malta and all around the globe will settle in Valletta, Floriana and Gozo for ten days of celebration, art, and culture. From dance and mime, shadow puppetry and visual arts, to street performances and live music, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
You can check out the full festival programme here, as well as a map of all the venues and information on tickets and timings. And be sure to follow their Facebook page to keep up with everything going on.