The Play Lab Series: Hear from Our Families!

Wondering about our Play Lab series? 


Play Labs are research-based spaces for very young children and their caregivers to create with artists at the Lawrence Arts Center. Each session, we collaborate with 1-6 year olds in order to develop original music, art, choreography, and ideas for our Theatre and Dance for the Very Young performances. All of the material we create in the Play Labs directly inspires our productions for this age range.

But…we’d rather you hear about the Play Lab series from caregivers who bring their young people back again and again to participate in these innovative sessions. Yvonne Klinksick (YK, left in photo) and Meg Jamieson (MJ, right in photo) describe their experiences below!

Our Play Labs occur three times per year alongside our Theatre and Dance for the Very Young season. Stay tuned to see what we’ve got in store for fall 2019 AND check out our final event of the season, Baby Disco: a daytime dance party for 0-6 year olds this Saturday, April 6th, 2019.



How would you describe a Play Lab to someone who has never been a part of one?

YK: Play labs are a great opportunity to hand the reins over to your child and be a partner with them exploring dance, music, and art. It is such a fun and unique bonding experience and so interesting to see what your child chooses to connect with. There are no explicit instructions, no talking per se, so it’s an hour lead by the child. 

YK’s Child, Éabha: You dance however you want, you can play around. There’s not a lot of talking. You can do whatever moves you want. That is so, so cool! Big thumbs up mostly about dancing!! Your parents could spin you around or slide you around! And there’s art too if you want. 

MJ: I would say that Play Lab is a chance to interact with your own child in directed play. To see how your child, and yourself, responds to music, to paint, to a space that is not determined by an overt story or requirements, but by the planned events designed for imaginative play in that space.


What has your child explored in the Play Lab series? What have you noticed about their experiences? 

YK: It’s been interesting seeing the difference in how our children engaged based on their ages. At the start they were hesitant- was it really ok to paint Mamó or themselves or do any moves they wanted? But then they really started to notice their own power in movement by seeing the adult dancers mimic their moves and by feeling the freedom to create however they wanted on any canvas including Mamó! 

MJ: Ayelle loves the dancing most of all the Play Labs. She has loved leading the adults (not just me) in a dance, having her moves followed. 


What is the most exciting thing about participating in a Play Lab as an adult/caregiver?

YK: The opportunity to run with “yes!” So many times our kids are constrained by rules and structures even with dance and art classes, so it is a fantastic opportunity to support their own expression!  It is a great way of passing power to your child and letting them be the boss of their moves and art. It’s also a really good check in on how sometimes as adults we can be restrained by what constitutes a “right” move or “good” art and there is such joy and freedom to be learned from how our children embrace their own style and moves. By being lead in non verbal ways it also adds a deeper bonding to the session. I love seeing their faces light up when their moves are reproduced by the adult dancers- it’s a body conversation that feeds confidence and fun. 

MJ: It’s really joyous and freeing to not have a place to go or to have to rush playing with Ayelle. It’s great to be back in the non-verbal space I shared with her for so long–lots of communication, but not necessarily a lot of words. 


You’ve brought your young person to multiple Play Labs, what keeps bringing you back?

YK: Firstly, they want to come back- the labs had a big impact on them from being able to break a taboo of who is in charge, test out all their moves, to being able to paint on me, to being very special time together. There is a closeness that stays with us after the class- we’d do it every week if we could! As an adult it is a fun opportunity to embrace the energy and creativity they have, to support their voices and to learn to be more free in our own expression. 

MJ: We’ve always played a lot–I try to give it more time. 


Is there anything else you want us to know?

YK: This is the only class Éabha has requested to take again!

MJ: I love the teachers–and the space, and the idea of learning from my child and other people’s children.