The company was established in 1997 by Susana García and Nigel Warrack and grew out of a desire to create new dance with live music for children that is exciting and fun, performed in a European style, influenced by non-European cultures.
From 1997-2006 we toured various shows in England under the Arts Council England National Touring Programme in Theatres, Schools and unconventional venues including prisons and hospices as well as village halls with the National Rural Touring Programme.
We ran several projects in South India and Sri Lanka with the British Council, with former pupils of the late Professor G Sankara Pillai; with Suhruth Nataka Kalari, a rural children's theatre in Kerala; in Nambikkai, a centre for young deaf adults in Tamil Nadu, in rural areas and Dalit tribal zones (formerly known as “untouchables”) with the Trichur School of Drama and also at Eso Natak Shikri in Kolkata (Calcutta).
From 2007-2012 we toured under EU Culture Programme with Travelling people in UK, Romania, Italy, Slovenia, Finland, Turkey and Jordan.
In 2012 we launched the Baby Lion London programme, working with children, young people, older people and Travellers in West London (Kensington, Hammersmith and Westminster) under the BIG Reaching Communities Programme. This programme has been expanded as Baby Lion Reloaded to include Brent and Ealing in 2017.
Almost immediately after this new programme was set up in June 2017, our community was horrified to witness the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower, 400 metres from our home, offices and studio. We have been working in this community for over 20 years with local children, some of whom have grown up and still participate as volunteers, teaching assistants or performers. Some of the children we work with were in the tower that terrible night but they escaped and are safe. Some of their teachers, friends and family members did not. Our community was remarkable, with a selfless outpouring of compassion, kindness and material help from people of every background imaginable. People affected by Grenfell are now a priority for our work in West London. As reported on the James O’Brien show for LBC (link to clip), the breakdance sessions, trapeze lessons, classical music master classes have a positive impact on the mental health crisis that we are all facing in this area.
Currently, we have two programmes with the Creative Europe Programme of the EU: Give Music a Future, organised by European Music Competitions for Youth and Bite My Skype organised by The Flying Gorillas with Kokemo (Helsinki, Finland) BTMusikEvi (Istanbul, Turkey) Le Nuvole (Naples, Italy) and Fundatia Philadelphia Transylvania (Rural Transylvania, Romania). You can find out more about the EU Culture Programme page of this website.
In all Flying Gorillas shows, the performance is preceded by a workshop in which up to 30 children learn, devise and rehearse the exciting finale. They sit in the front row of the theatre then zoom on stage to perform alongside the professional cast.
“One of the world’s leading children’s theatre companies” The Hindu, India
“A dazzling blend of virtuosity and wit” Buenos Aires Herald, Argentina
“Outstanding and uncompromising quality for kids” The Evening Standard, London
“Our patience has completely snapped at such cultural absurdities” Nigel Farage, European Parliament in Strasbourg
"Why are you called The Flying Gorillas?"
Our first ever project was in 1997, in a tribal community in Misiones, Northern Argentina. Artistic Director Susana García, a native Argentinian, secured an invitation through the Department of Ecology to visit the Comunidad Aboriginal Guaranié Tamandua. The Cacique (Chief) Dionysius Duarte gave us permission to study children's games, songs and rituals. Middlesex University provided a research grant and we set off with with 6 Performing Arts students to live and work in the community for six weeks. The chief gave us the name ... "Flying" for the imagination and "Gorillas" for strength.
The resulting performance was called "Tango Argumentino", which premièred at Riverside Studios, London and toured UK, mainland Europe, Asia, South America and Oceania to critical acclaim by everyone except Mr Nigel Farage, who described it as "a cultural absurdity".