Provocations for Dance and Risky Play Podcast

Provocations for Dance and Risky Play Podcast

Provocations for dance and risky play in early childhood and care settings Podcast

Dance and physical activity programmes in early childhood education and care settings are very often prescriptive, teacher or media-led, events that resemble militaristic approaches to physical development. Research conducted by Dr Jennifer Nikolai and Associate Professor Andrew Gibbons (AUT University, Auckland New Zealand) challenged this tradition and explored the benefits of alternative approaches to dance and physical activity. The researchers share “a central concern regarding the ways in which children’s experiences of their bodies and learning through, with and about their movement may be prescribed by a particular attention to a developmental and technical paradigm in early childhood dance research and practice” (Gibbons & Nikolai, 2019, p. 2).

Drawing upon findings from the research, this podcast explores the contribution of dance theory and practice to children’s risky play in early childhood education and care settings. Concepts of body awareness and movement efficiency support teachers in their aims to provide a holistic, embodied, adaptive and inclusive curriculum. Teachers' observation and awareness of individual movement preferences in children creatively supports each child’s risk-taking in jumping, pushing, falling, rolling and climbing. The objective of the research project is to support confident movers with their bodies, relating to themselves and their environments through participatory workshops that reveal and challenge assumptions about body, movement, dance and risk.

Nikolai and Gibbons will conduct a lecture demonstration. The project takes into account dance elements in relationship to self, others and materials including: centre of gravity, breath, postural alignment, tactile awareness and cross lateral movement, balance and counter-balance for educators and learners to apply in a range of settings. These elements are woven into the strands and principles of Te Whariki, the early childhood curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research proposes that dance offers significant potential to support and enhance 'risky play' opportunities in daily activities experienced by children, supported by their early childhood centre community.

The session concludes with reflective, methodological considerations towards future research practice. Participatory approaches to research with early childhood teachers will be considered supporting research aims and design, as shared between teachers and researchers.

The recording is of a webinar presented by ESSA on 28 August 2020.

Presented by Dr Jennifer Nikolai & Associate Professor Andrew Gibbons

Jennifer Nikolai is a dance scholar, choreographer, and Senior Lecturer, located in the School of Sport and Recreation at Auckland University of Technology, in New Zealand. Her research traverses a range of collaborative art practices, including dance and camera dramaturgy, dance as we age and dance as 'risky play'. She is currently engaged in research projects in Canada and New Zealand. Jennifer teaches Contemporary Issues and Leadership in Sport and Recreation and supervises Masters and PhD students in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Te Ara Poutama (Maori Development), and the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies.

Andrew Gibbons is an early childhood teacher educator and Associate Professor at the School of Education. He has worked in journalism, in the social services in England and in early childhood education in Auckland. He has published widely on topics including the early childhood teaching profession, Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood education policy, approaches to early childhood curriculum, health and wellbeing in early childhood, the philosophy of education, and the role of technology in education.

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Any Accredited Exercise Scientist and Accredited Exercise Physiologists.


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