The JABADAO approach

Innovation in supporting physical play - with people of all ages and energies

The starting point


We humans live in our bodies.

Everything we do, we do in our bodies.

We are just fancy mammals.


Movement is our first (and most direct) language; and our body is our first home.

The brain's primary purpose, it would seem, is to organise complex movement.


And yet, in the West, we manage to spectacularly ignore this.

We vastly favour the education of our fabulous intellects and miss the need to educate - equally - our capacity to notice and draw on the bodily stir - the stream of physical sensations that flow through us every second of every day; the sensations that tell us who and how we are; that map our relationship with everything in the world.


JABADAO practitioners start with the body -  finding out what changes for the better when we do.

We are  dancers, body workers, acrobats, physical players.

People who start with the expressive body, because somewhere along the line this was sidelined

(along with lots of human capacity and wellbeing).



'Movement Play' ...

is a term we use to name what we do. We notice that other people are beginning to use this name too. This is what we mean by it.  Back in 1998 It took us a ludicrous amount of time to come up with, given that is sounds so simple. We wanted something that identified a practice that is about the core of a dance experience, some of the excitement of a sporting activity, and - most of all - is all about full-bodied, whole hearted human EMBODIED physicality. It had to mean goal-free, with a different set of skills ad techniques involve - and most importantly, created-in-the-moment-exrepssive-physical-play that people of any age might engage in. It had to include a wide range of different kinds of movement - it might be very energetic or very calm, usually a sociable, interactive thing. And actually - tricky to capture this one - with a loving quality even when the play is pokey. It is always about life in every limb. It's ultimate aim is ease, or perhaps happiness. When it informs performance work- because we do that too - it is about trying things out for the first time, challenge, mischief, care, failure ... and seeing the mechanics in action, both physical and social. 

life in every limb ... 

all our lives

Our practice

We draw on a substantial body of knowledge about movement developed by developmental 

movement specialists, dancers, acrobats, circus performers, play specialists, sports people and movement therapists.

None of this is simple to describe, because it isn't part of mainstream learning or experience.  Watch the work and it is all pretty easy. Verbalise it and things get tricky. Here is our best attempt. Jargon alert - some of the words  used here (because its hard to find others) may feel difficult and distant.


we are interested in sensory-motor experience, (the bodily stir) for its own sake - not just as a way of improving rational, intellectual or sporting aims.


physically expressive play: our practice is substantially different from creative dance or adult-led sport or activities. It is about the human desire and ability to play; to interact with each other (and the world around) in loads of different ways - tender, mischevious, boisterous, gentle - wallowing in the experience this generates. We laugh a lot. We throw each other challenges and respond in kind. It's never the same twice.


we learn from movement improvisation techniques drawn from dance practices: spontaneous, unfolding movement interaction, generated in the moment in response to internal and external stimuli. From sports partners we learn about how to build strength and fitness -  and lots of games.


kinaesthetic empathy: technical jargon for that ability we have to tune in and respond sensitively and respectfully to each others' movement communication. In practice it is nothing difficult - everyone does it (a little) all the time. Kinesthetic empathy is another, ordinary, human capacity that  happens in energy and movement (rather than words) and is generally hidden in our society. We get it out into the open and make good use of it.


embodied learning: the capacity to notice and make use of body stuff (sensation, emotion, movement and image) as an important part of the learning process - posing and solving problems, generating further information, coming to understanding, using that new understanding in subsequent learning situations. 


embodied living: feeling life in every limb in everything you do. Feeling body confident -  not like you have to say you have two left feet when someone asks you to dance. Feeling great in your own skin. Being a body - not just having one to get your brain about to the next thing on your schedule.

and let's be clear, there is something about loving interaction that is at the core of everything we do.  This  gets lost, all the time, in many contexts. It is difficult to talk about and stay/feel 'professional'. But it is the stuff of life, it alters everything and we will always find ways of making it important. (And, at the same time, we completely acknowledge and uphold  the vital role of safeguarding.)