Back in the 1990s, in a rapidly growing collaboration with the early years sector, the JABADAO team of movement specialists was trying to work out how we could make our best contribution.
There are many ways to work with human movement. Between us we had backgrounds in dance, developmental movement, therapy, play, arts and education (special and mainstream) and we were very clear that each has its own specific aims, value and professional boundaries.
As we worked our way towards something that was clearly emerging as a new approach, we were not interested in making some kind of soup from the different approaches, but something with clear aims and boundaries of its own.
We had the inevitable debates about what to call it.
It seems crazy now, but settling on the words Movement Play took a long time, much heartache and even a few tears. For a while that’s what we called what we did. Movement Play with capital letters. Back then, it wasn't a phrase in common usage - although it sounds as if it must have been, doesn’t it?
There was a lot of soul searching around the capital letters. Children indulge in movement play as a completely natural part of their lives. We were not trying to own movement play, copyright it and make it into an education program. It’s an essential part of babies and children’s lives, and as such, it belongs to each and every child. Not to us.
But we were/are trying to make movement play more noticeable as a thing - and to understand it more fully. So capital letters seem to be a useful part of that process, to indicate a focus.
A name is also about clarifying thinking and identifying an essence; as other physical approaches have done and continue to do - Physical Literacy, Creative Dance, Brain Gym, Write Dance, Sensory Integration, Modern Educational Dance (now very much old-fashioned Educational Dance, but modern back in the 1960s), Infant Massage …. so many.
We loved the ordinariness of Movement Play. We were/are pursuing something about the ordinary, everyday movement that children do to build their bodies, themselves.
The Developmental word was added a couple of years later, as we needed to represent an additional element which grew within the work as we explored the neuroscience of physical development more. And also because we increasingly drew on our own background in developmental movement theory as an underpinning.
Actually, it’s a bit of a mouthful and many people stumble over it, going for Development Movement Play, (rather than Developmental) which truly gives it a hiccup in the middle. Apologies!
It quickly became DMP amongst those of us involved in the early development - many, many early years practitioners as well as the small JABADAO team.
We heartily recommend this as a shortened version, but lets not loose sight of those important words, Developmental Movement Play, each a focus for our pedagogical concurns.