What possibilities physical play between the adult and their child can contain is a continuous exploration, an unlimited experimentation.

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Here are some observations found

The best form of learning is experience, and failure is a key aspect of this process; let the child encounter everything, while minimally protecting them; allow the child to fall as much as possible, for it has a crucial impact; aim to understand where they could really get hurt and interfere specifically; the rest is mithin the range of important experimentation.  

  • As adults often cuddle or hold, the child becomes accustomed to being passive, and feeling heavy; instead, when the child is the one responsible for being off the ground, then they are active, holding themselves, and aware of the possibilities available to them on the bodily terrain of the adult.

  • When the adult refrains from using their hands to keep the child on their body, they develop motor skills by finding new angles and positions to stop the little one from slipping off; the ability to sense and receive information through the skin is awakened, so one becomes acutely aware of the child’s exact location on themselves, the manner in which the child is staying in place and the position that they are in, be it upside down or on their side.

  • Adults tend to act on the child—pick up, turn over, and so on—although the environment is stimulating enough for them to discover what deserves their attention; the desire to create a “pleasant encounter” causes one to work in a very narrow manner that focuses on a specific goal and misses out on other opportunities out there; instead practice setting the child’s interests apart from the experience that the adult wants them to have.

  • Dancing together places the roles of adult and child on an equal footing; each has the freedom to choose their next move and nothing is forced upon the other; the child develops their independence with the support of the parent, allowing for a more open physical movement.

 

Here you can read a little conversational interview with me and my colleague Jenny Döll. With thanks to Kindaling. And below

 

HOW THE IDEA WAS BORN?

It began from the attention garnered by a short video (above) captured by chance by Aaron Brando during the Ibiza Contact Festival in 2011. In it, ContaKids founder Itay Yatuv is seen with his daughter, Sophie. While on her way to bed in her pyjamas, with mommy and her pacifier, she ran into a tent where her father was participating in a movement jam session. 

The footage of the toddler girl thoroughly enjoying the interaction with Itay aroused much curiosity about how parents can increase physical contact with their kids, and also unwittingly invited them to jump into the happy waters of play and free dance with their little offspring.

In the past three years, Itay worked on developing the methodology that he calls ContaKids, designing it for children aged from two to four and their parents, to share dance and physical play based on various foundations of Contact Improvisation. Through leading dozens of after-school programmes, he has motivated parent-child pairings to roll and jump—around and on each other— and helped them learn to breathe, listen, make choices and compromise, together.

The response from the parents and children who have participated has been wonderful and encouraging to Itay. It has also been a inspiring learning experience, far beyond his expectations when he began it all.

Itay Yatuv is the founder of Contakids – my teacher. Artistic director of the Hakvutza Dance School in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Itay has been practicing and internationally teaching Contact Improvisation for over 10 years to professional and amateur dancers. He trained as a contemporary dancer in New York, Italy and Israel. Choreographing independently, Itay has lead many international projects of improvisational performances.