Watch a Toddler Imitate a Dancer at the Peabody Essex Museum
For 101 days, dancers from BoSoma Dance Company are performing as “moving sculptures” in the Peabody Essex Museum’s Rodin: Transforming Sculpture exhibit. But last week, one emotionally inspiring modern gestural performance was briefly interrupted for a different kind of emotionally inspiring experience.
During her PEM visit, two-year-old Callia Range was immediately inspired by the Rodin exhibit, and was particularly mesmerized by the dancing of performer Jessica Rose Flynn. So much so that she kicked off her shoes and joined in.
“I was totally blown away by the fact that she had the confidence to come up to me,” says Flynn. “It was unexpected because as the Rodin dancers, we’re supposed to be so into ourselves and kind of pretend that we’re all alone in the room.”
Instead of continuing her performance as usual, Flynn began dancing in a way that Callia could imitate. When Flynn sat on the ground and put her feet in the air, so did Callia. The two twirled and stretched in sync for the next seven minutes or so.
“I was trying my hardest not to cry because she was so cute,” says Flynn. “It was amazing. Every single second of it.”
Callia’s mother Laura instinctually pulled out her camera and started filming. The tiny dancer, who stopped museum visitors and staff in their tracks, has also captured the heart of the internet. Range posted the video of Callia and Flynn on Facebook, which has garnered more than 60,000 views as of Friday afternoon.
“This moment is all the sweeter because just over a year ago, Callia was diagnosed with gross motor delays and was hardly moving at all—barely even rolling at 10 months old,” says Range. “She’s been working hard with an occupational therapist this year and it’s a dream come true for me to see her confident and enjoying moving her body like this.”
Flynn expressed surprise when Range informed her of Callia’s diagnosis, explaining she would have never guessed since Callia’s movements blended so well with her own.
“I think it says something about how every kid should get into some form of art early on,” says Flynn. “The arts can help so much in development, growing up, and creating a personality.”
Flynn, who just turned 18, says she’s been dancing since she was Callia’s age and hopes Callia will continue to do what inspires her.
In a statement, the PEM explained the goal of interspersing trained dancers among Rodin’s sculptures was to inspire this type of interactivity. But museum staffers never anticipated Callia’s touching moment, adding that her experience “underscores the universal power of art to transform and unlock creative expression within us all.”