Serious Play

Posted on 09/17/13

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

“Children at play are not playing about.  Their games should be seen as their most serious minded activity.”  These words of 16th century French essayist Montaigne were never more evidenced than in this seasons Toddler series.  This morning I watched a bit of Alisa’s parent-child dance class.  Tiny, determined boys and girls strode into the dance studio and immediately tracked down the biggest prop they could find.  Soon, every child was carrying at least one very large item: physio balls, yoga blocks, big drums, etc.  Discovering and placing items was important business.  I watched parents of these powerful two year olds wondering where to put their energy and attention.  It is probably not typical for them to have nothing to do but witness the manifestation of their child’s intention. Yet, at its core, that is what we ask parents to learn to do as they bring their children to our studio.  We ask them to watch their children grow from fully attached beings who cannot transport themselves through space without adult help, to low-level motorized crawlers and waddlers, to purposeful toddlers; at each level exhibiting a new level of independence—yet still needing parental support.  Alisa skillfully scaffolds this evolving interdependent dance by writing up the key concepts, guiding parent observation and narrating what she sees.  It is my hope that these early collaborative dance experiences set the parents up to champion the child’s journey as dancemaker and performer.  How can the parent learn to see the child’s intention in movement and encourage both more risk and more clarity? How do parents appraise the appropriate challenges of a particular class or program? What does rigor look like in creativity and dancemaking?  These questions are guiding my work right now in many areas: parent communication, professional learning and writing my new booklet with the working title, the Rigor of Creativity. (preedy)


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