Meet The Wiggles!

Blue Wiggle Anthony Page and first female Wiggle Emma Watkins

The Wiggles lineup
The Wiggles lineup: Anthony Field (blue), Emma Watkins (yellow), Simon Pryce (red), and Lachlan Gillespie (purple). The Wiggles

If you have been a parent to a toddler or a preschooler any time over the past two decades, it's likely you are familiar with The Wiggles, a preschool music super group from Australia that has not only dominated the children's music charts, but has spawned a television series; countless DVDs, CDs, and merchandise; and dozens of world tours.

Originally formed in 1991 by four friends and early childhood education students Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page, and Jeff Fatt (original member Phillip Wilcher left after the first album was recorded), the group, which identifies their bandmates by colors, now features a lineup of Field (Blue Wiggle), Emma Watkins (Yellow Wiggle and the first female Wiggle), Simon Pryce (Red Wiggle), and Lachlan Gillespie (Purple Wiggle).

I recently spoke to Blue Wiggle Anthony Field and Yellow Wiggle Emma Watkins about what it means to be a Wiggle, why they think the preschool years are so special, and what it means to be part of a worldwide phenomena.

Favorite Wiggles song:
Emma: The only female Wiggle in the group's history says that her favorite song changes all the time, although she's partial to "We're Dancing with Wags the Dog."
Anthony: The only "original" Wiggle of the group says he's partial to "Rock-a-Bye Your Bear," calling it a lovely song. "My children always enjoyed it," he said, sharing that it always used to cause purple Wiggle Jeff to fall asleep.

What they love best about the preschool years:
Anthony says it's the enthusiasm that little ones show about the world around them that appeal to him the most. "They are interested in everything," the Blue Wiggle said. "When you are young, the world is exciting! As we get older, we get jaded."
For Emma, she says it's the honesty that comes from small children that she enjoys the most.

"I see in our shows from having children in our audience," she says. "When they are engaged, they are with you. If you aren't doing something they like or singing they right song, they turn away!" (laughs).

Favorite country to tour as a Wiggle:
That's a hard one for the Yellow Wiggle, who says she loves seeing the differences in every country.

"I really like the U.K. though, I find it it so different to our (Australian) culture! And I love seeing all the architecture there. Plus the English children have such funny accents! (laughs again)
Anthony: "I love Asia in Hong Kong and mainland China. The children respond to dancing and action and it is so culturally different from the Western world." He said he also loves to travel throughout the United States and Canada, adding that he is grateful that they get to visit as many states as they do. "This is the best job that is not a job!

On hour their backgrounds in education make them better Wiggles:
Anthony was a preschool teacher and studied early childhood education at Macquarie University in Sydney before becoming a Wiggle. He said the key behind a lot of the Wiggles songs is to empower children and making them feel like they have a place in the world.
Emma taught dancing before joining The Wiggles (before becoming the Yellow Wiggle she was Fairy Larissa, Wags the Dog, Dorothy the Dinosaur, and a Wiggly Dancer).

"I loved teaching," she said. "Kids are so cute and so funny." She said those experiences definitely help her when she is interacting with kids now.

On why keeping kids active is so important to the Wiggles:
Anthony: "It's definitely more and more of challenge for parents. It's important to get kids away from the array of screens -- iPods, iPhones, smartphones. We want to encourage them to be active and eat foods in a fun way. If we can encourage that, then we are doing a good job," said the Blue Wiggle. 

Anthony on how things have changed over the past two decades:
"The big change is that it used to be that children would sit in front of the tv and maybe get up and dance," said the Blue Wiggle. "These days, kids have little phones and things, so they can be just sitting there with their heads forward, twiddling their thumbs. So the challenge is to motivate them to get out, take a walk in the park, smell the roses. Children are still the same -- they are brilliant. But this day and age is definitely more challenging for parents."

Emma on being a fan of the Wiggles growing up:
"I'm 23 and the Wiggles are 22, so I'm part of the original fan group!" The Yellow Wiggle said there is a DVD that was filmed in Sydney of a Wiggles live show. There is a cut away shot of her and her sister in matching dresses. "It's come circle!," she laughs.

Emma and Anthony on why having a female Wiggle is so important:
"The essential thing is that all Wiggles are role models, whether they are male or female. So for me, to be able to be a positive influence to children around the world is a privilege," Emma said, noting that characters such as Dorothy the Dinosaur does a great job of being a positive role model. Anthony said that when the group started they had no idea it would turn into such a worldwide phenomena. "I was a preschool teacher!," he laughed, adding that if they had know that the group was going to be so big, they probably would have had a female Wiggle from the very beginning.

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