Never one for being good in my own company, I need other people, or a busy environment in which to feel free to play with movement. A piece I'm currently rehearsing for involves the use of, among other things, a pool of water, and lighting a bowl of lighter fluid. And it’s great fun. The power I felt from being 'allowed' to simply play with these elements took me by surprise.

It's rare that, as adults, we're given such opportunities, and I think that it's a privilege that dancers are afforded more than others. It’s taken for granted, expected, that children will and must play: it aids social development, dexterity, and, in the words of Einstein, ‘play is the highest form of research’. So when is it that things change, and why? At some point we become to cool to play, perhaps we feel we’ve researched enough, and that we know all we want to know. I for one hope I never feel that way!

As well as playing with fire and water, I’ve recently been playing at being a woodland creature throughout summer festivals, and at being part of a human living room. The uncertain glee in a child’s voice when invited to sit on our sofa made of bodies was wonderful to hear: ‘Am I really allowed to sit? But it’s not really a chair!?’ She sat, she had a biscuit (from the human coffee table), and all was well.

A key part of a Dance Movement Therapist’s work is encouraging play, and in the short time that I studied this I gained a huge amount of knowledge and insight about myself, and how I relate to other people and the environment around me. All from moving, exploring and playing with the props / tools / toys that we were provided with.

I consider improvisation to be a form of play, but as it’s often very structured and goal- orientated, I think the sense of freedom can be lost. I think as performers, we’re extremely lucky to have the opportunity to freely explore a movement, a piece of music, a prop or a subject matter, and that as part of a creative process, this should not be used simply as an introduction or a way to get started, but should be constantly revisited and researched. We’re also free to play dress up, to become other characters and encourage the imagination of our audience to join us, which is of course a key reason why Joe Public wants to go to the theatre: everyone wants to be able to experience something ‘other’.

My car boot is currently stocked with, among other things, a Barbie skateboard, thousands of ping-pong balls and a bag of sand. These things have been used, and will be again, to encourage playfulness in dancers young and old, of many years’ experience or of none, and the results both artistic and experiential are great and, I’m sure, a hundred times better than if I just taught some new moves.

So don’t be a grownup. OK, be a grownup, but be a grownup who can play. If it’s good enough for Einstein…