Candy Alternatives for Halloween Class

As Halloween approaches, we often do special activities at my studio or allow students to wear costumes.  Many teachers like to reward their classes with a special treat, which historically has been candy.  I feel that as dance teachers, we have a responsibility to celebrate healthy choices and I like to search out alternatives to candy–especially with all of the food-allergies and preferences that my students have.

Coloring Pages
Such an easy and low-cost “treat”


Glow Bracelets
This is my choice for this year – trying something new and potentially something that they kids can take with them on Halloween.  I found glow bracelets on Amazon for $8.79 for 100 bracelets, so for under $20 I was able to get enough to cover my 16 weekly classes.

Stickers, Stamps & Temporary Tattoos
My elementary-aged kids love stickers, stamps and tattoos.  Not sure if their parents love them as much, but its fun to do a grab-bag of these items.

Rolls of 500 Halloween Stickers:  $9.99
72 Glitter Halloween Temporary Tattoos: $5.50
24 Halloween Stamps:  $7.95

 

“Haunted House” Class Picture
This one is fun to do with the older kids or students who love social media… the “Haunted House” class picture – take a group picture but tell your students to make a face like they are going through a haunted house – leads to lots of funny faces!

Slap on a filter/background and send to your students and watch them share 🙂

More Ideas For Those Blessed in the Craftiness Department (THANK YOU PINTEREST)

Do you do something special with your classes for Halloween?  Do you hand out any treats?  Share in the comments!

Dance Games, Part 1

Do your dancers ask to play games in dance class or request something “fun”?

As hard as I try to keep class engaging and entertaining, many of my recreational classes still ask for “games” to play.  Often, I will turn to creative movement exercises and label them as “games”.  I also like to throw in some vocabulary builders.  If you’re looking for some new ideas for dance games, here are some alternatives to Freeze Dance (although if you like Freeze Dance, here are a few these variations on Freeze Dance).

When I started gathering ideas for this post and putting together this list, I discovered a bunch of new games.  There are simply too many for one post, so I will spread them out in a few different posts. This post will cover games for Terminology and Vocabulary Review.

Terminology & Vocabulary Review

tap-flashcardsDance Quiz

Basic vocabulary review.  Here are few ideas to keep it interesting:
  • Pick-a-card:  Write down terminology or combinations of steps on note cards.  For younger students, you could draw positions or help them read it.  One at a time, have a dancer pick a card and they must do that step.  For younger students, they get to be the teacher in the front of the room and demonstrate the step while everyone else practices.
  • The Line-Up:  Students stand in a line in the back of the studio.  Starting with the first person, teacher gives them a dance step.  If they do it correctly, they get to move up one step.  If they don’t know it, they pass and the next person gets the same step until someone knows it. Continue down the line with a new term, going back to the beginning of the line when you run out of dancers.  Goal is to get to the front line (we usually play 3 steps).
  • The Line-Up, fast version: I play this version with larger classes. Students stand in a line (facing away from the mirror to discourage peeking) and all close their eyes.  Teacher says a vocabulary step and every does it in place (keeping eyes closed).  Dance teacher taps anyone who is doing it correctly on the shoulder and they get to move up one step. We usually open our eyes at this point and I pick someone to demonstrate what the step was.  Repeat process. Keep going until someone moves all the way up to the front line.
  • Truth or Dare: Teacher asks dancer, “Truth or Dare?”.  When dancer says “truth”, ask terminology questions (how many sounds in a shuffle hop step, which direction is upstage).  For “dare”, they must demonstrate a specific dance step.  You can add “double dare”, which would be a harder dance step.

Roll The Dice


You will need some large foam dice.  Leave one plain (with dots or numbers) and the other add terminology (I used masking tape so that I could change the words for different classes).

For some classes its simple: skip, hop, jump, leap, shuffle, flap, maxi ford, buffalo and for the older classes more complicated, glissade pas de chat, pirouette, jete etc!


Here is how we use them:

  • Dice Quiz:   Have a child roll the movement dice and the number dice and they have to do that many repetitions of the step. If they don’t know the step you can call them out, and see who is left standing, or let them all remain. My kids love it and it’s a great way to test vocabulary.
  • Dice Choreography:  Have each child roll the pair of dice and use the steps to create a dance in succession (two shuffles, four flaps, one buffalo). Sometimes it turns out great and is a very inventive way of creating choreography and other times it’s silly or extremely difficult to transition but it’s still a fun challenge.   You can expand on this idea for tap, by creating rules for rhythm.  For example, we play where every sound must have one count (so shuffle step would be “1 2 3”), and the kids had to figure out what count we ended on.  You can also add “hold” to one side of the dice, so they will need to count “holds” in the combination.

Dance Pie

(or Cake, or Pizza…or whatever you want to make!  Maybe a salad or smoothie? Cornucopia?)I like to use this with age 3-8 year olds in my tap classes – lots of creative movement.  We create a dance recipe using steps as ingredients.

  1. Form a circle and roll out the dough – we usually roll our arms like in Patty Cake or stomp on the ground in tap (for pie or pizza… maybe grease the pan for cakes?)
  2. Ask for a dance step we can add to the pie. Ask how many and what foot to start with.
  3. Dance the step all together and “lift up” the ingredients and throw them in the pie (I like to make different steps heavier or lighter… some are sweet, some are sour, some must be sprinkled, some must be tossed – it adds to the fun!)
  4. Repeat until your “pie” is full!
  5. We march (or another traveling step) around in the circle to mix the pie together, roll the dough on top and pop it in the oven – have to work all together to lift such a heavy pie
  6. Wait.. then eat!  Sometimes we count to 8 or do another activity while it’s “baking”, then take it out and eat it up to make sure we remember all of our steps.

Creative Movement: The Name DanceHot Potato / Pass The Beanbag

Form a circle standing or sitting.  Pass the beanbag (or stuffed animal) until the music stops.  Whoever it stops on must do their favorite dance step.  Or you can have the teacher assign them a step.
 
Sometimes we play where they have to keep doing the step until the next person gets stopped with the beanbag.

The Airplane Game

Ages 3-6, Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques:

“Chasse chasse,

bourree bourree,

clap clap clap, clap clap clap

running like an airplane, running like an airplane

make a shape, make a shape”


Each time, replace the dance terms/clapping with whatever other dance terms you’d like to practice. Once they get the hang of it, you can add in directions (tip toe to the right or dance in a circle).

Here is an instrumental version of Frere Jacques in case you’re not a singer 🙂

Dance Baseball – see this post for full explanation

Sources:

Do you have any “games” or activities do you play to review vocabulary?

Shhhhh… *spritz spritz*

Quiet Spray

“Quiet Spray” – found at The Lemonade Stand blog.  As they suggest: …spray the ROOM to signal children to get quiet.  Or you can just leave the bottle empty.  Mine love the mist in the air….I do not condone spraying a child!  As much as you might want to!  Ha!”

I thought this was a cute idea, even though I don’t have too much trouble with talking in classes (knock on wood…), but every so ofter there is a class that is just the right mixture of personalities to create the chit-chatty class.  Sometimes it only takes one or two chatterboxes to make you want to reach for the quiet spray…especially in my high school classes 🙂

On second thought, maybe I should make some interchangeable labels:

“Pointe-Your-Toes Spray”
“Choreography Cleaner”
“Insta-Turnout”
“Dance Bills-B-Gone”
“Spotting Spray” (NOT to remove spots, but to add spotting to turns!)

Any others you can think of for when you’re having “one of those days”?

Autumn Leaf Creative Movement Dance

leavesI wanted to share an autumn leaf dance I’ve been exploring with my younger classes.  It was inspired by a fewdifferentposts from fellow dance bloggers and my recent acquisition of scarves!

We danced this dance in my youngest ballet classes (ages 5 and 6) through my intermediate ballet and modern classes (ages 9-12) and they all enjoyed it.

After all, who doesn’t like dancing with scarves!?

Autumn Leaf Creative Movement

This dance can be as structured or as open as you’d like to make it.

Scarves (links to Amazon)

Optional Props:  Dance scarves (I purchased these 27″ square ones from Amazon and they are holding up pretty well considering we’ve been using them almost weekly in about 10 classes a week.  They are nice and big and come in a nice variety of colors. The edges are starting to fray slightly, but I expected that.)

Skills:  Spatial awareness, working with a group, telling a story, improvisation

Music:  We used Vivaldi’s Autumn Allegro (The Four Seasons) & for the older classes closer to Halloween switched to a spookier-sounding song – we used Sayuri’s Theme.  Links open in iTunes, DB is an iTunes affiliate

We divided our class into Tree dancers, Wind dancers and Leaf dancers.  The scarves made it easy as I was able to group dancers by color (red and orange were Leaves, green and yellow were Trees, blue and purple were Wind).

General movements:

Trees – tall and straight, limbs moving and shaking in the wind.  For ballet classes, they moved through different ballet arm positions, modern class was freer movements, the scarf held in one or two hands like a leaf.

Wind – flow-y and blow-y, lots of traveling.  We used chasses, bourees, gallops, ballet runs, and turns, with the scarf circling overhead

Leaves – going between slow and still movements to fast and big movements.  We used skipping, hop scotch, and turns, scarf dancing along with them.

Formation & Travel Patterns:

To start, the Leaves gathered in a pile in the center of the room (sitting or kneeling together).  Trees stood in a circle around them.  Wind stood in a line “offstage”.  I usually appointed a leader (or had my assistant lead) for the Wind so that they would move in a line, like “follow the leader” – it helped them not get so wild.

Blue = Wind dancers, Red = Leaf dancers, Green = Tree dancers

The “Story”:  I would narrate this over top of the music, occasionally changing it up (the options I can remember in parentheses).  I also think it would work well with Maria’s creative movement falling leaves poem.  After a few times, I would give fewer and fewer cues and with the older kids we did it without talking.

Once upon a time, deep in the woods (middle of a meadow, spooky Halloween forest, etc) was a wonderful circle of tall, tall trees.  

The trees were straight and tall from their roots (in 1st position for ballet) and stretched their branches up to the sun.  

Then one day, the wind began to blow (motion for wind dancers to enter – they would do their movement traveling around the room) and the trees‘ branches began to shake.  

The leaves began to dance all around (cue for Leaf dancers to get up and come out of the circle).  They danced this way, and that way and twirled and whirled with the wind!  

At this point I would send Wind back offstage, (“The wind went away, back from where it came… and the leaves drifted slowly back to their tree grove and trees protected them” – trees would reach hands in the middle to cover leaves) or open it up to creative movement, which is what I would usually do towards the end of our class (all the forest began to move around and dance together).

Repeat and switch roles!

Other ideas we played with during group dance:

  • Incorporate steps from class, using the scarf (“they balance’d this way and balance’d that way”)
  • Have all dancers just dance with their arms and the scarf
  • Observer how the scarf moves and imitate it with their bodies
  • Float slowly to the ground like a falling leaf
  • Toss the scarf in the air during their creative dancing

Does anyone else have a fun scarf dance or exercise?  Do you do a fall dance?  I hope you enjoyed ours!

Dance Baseball

This is a fun dance game that my students love playing in class.  I hesitate to call it a “game” because I try to make a lot of our exercises in class fun, and it also is a good review of technique.  Either way, the kids see it as a game and they love playing, so I like to save it for special times of the year.

As a side note, one of my 7 year olds who started playing softball in the spring was so proud that she was the only one on her softball team that year who knew how the game worked because we had played “ballet baseball” in class…wasn’t exactly what I was hoping she would learn from ballet class, but hey at least she learned something!

Dance Baseball

Ages 7 & Up (dancers need a basic understanding of baseball/softball)

Class:  Adaptable to any style of class where the students have learned specific technique skills that they can be called upon to remember.  I will use a beginning ballet class in my description below.

My ballerinas lined up to play (purple cone is 1st base)

Set-Up:  Designate bases around the room (we use the traditional diamond shape, but your dance baseball field can have as many bases as you like).  I usually use small cones, but little rugs or tape mark would work.  The pitcher (usually that’s me) stands in the middle.

The Goal: The whole class is one team and their goal is to get as many “runs” around the bases as a class as they can against the pitcher, who’s goal is to stump them and get them “out”.

How we play:  The first dancer comes “up to bat” (steps up to home plate) and I “pitch” them a dance step (2nd position demi plie). If they can do it, they move (we bourree) to first base.

The second dancer steps up to home plate and I “pitch” them a different step (degagé).  If they can do it, they move to first base and the first dancer moves to second.  If the do not know the step or do it incorrectly, the team has an “out”.  Depending on the age, I will give hints or three tries to the dancer who is up.  If I’m able to stump someone, I keep using the same step until someone gets it.

This continues and if dancers know the step, they all move up one base, eventually getting all the way back home and earning a “run”.

We play to three outs and count up the runs.  We try to beat our highest score as a class the next time we play.

Stealing a base in ballet baseball

Advanced Dance Baseball:  “Stealing bases”

With my tweens and teens, I allow “base stealing”.  The pitcher holds a beanbag and dancers may attempt to steal a base by tiptoeing… however if they try to steal a base, I can toss the beanbag at them to try to get them out.  This usually causes lots of giggles since I have pretty bad aim ☺

Just remind them that they are in dance class, not a field, so no running (or sliding).  Sometimes I allow multiple people on the bases – modify the rules as you see fit!

I hope you like our fun alternative to reviewing dance steps – make it your own!  Play ball!

Lyrical & Modern "Shoes" – Do You Wear Them?

I prefer bare feet for my modern and contemporary classes, but lately my students have been wearing FootUndeez or Dance Paws (the ones with stripes, polka dots, sparkles, etc) to class. I feel like an old lady but I tell them “when I was your age, those shoes didn’t exist and we toughened our feet by dancing barefoot. We we proud of our callouses”. In college, we were not allowed to wear them and quickly adapted to dancing on marley barefoot.

Then my students laugh at me and pull on their rainbow colored modern “shoe” over their tender, un-calloused feet.  So here’s my question to you, dear reader:

What do YOU wear on your feet to modern / lyrical class?  

Or if you’re a teacher – what do you allow your students to wear in class?  For performance?

If you’re not sure of what I’m talking about, they are little shoes that slip on over your toes and just over the ball of your foot to reduce friction and help with turns.

As a teacher, I allow my recreational students to wear them in class and in recital, but they must be skin-toned for the recital.  And they must make a choice – whatever they plan to wear for the show, they must wear for class.

For my competitive students, I do not allow the to wear them for modern dances and for lyrical, I make a decision on the day of competition based on the surface of the stage. For slippery stages, they go barefoot.

As a dancer, I don’t like the feeling of things between my toes while I dance.  I have a wide foot and the “Pawz” and “FootUndeez” cut off the circulation to my pinkie toe – does anyone else have that problem?  I think I might like the half-ballet shoe (top row, middle), but for now I will remain shoeless.

Marketing for New Season

I can't believe that our studio's opening day is less than four weeks away!  Our last summer intensive starts this Monday and then we have a break before starting up in September.

This is a list of what I do to market my studio, including the failed ad attempts – hopefully it will help someone!

FREE – The best advertising is free in my opinion!

  • Internet Presence:  Make sure your studio shows up when you search "dance near ZIP CODE" on Google! Update or add your studio to Google Places, Bing, Yahoo, etc.  Check out this post for a way to see if your business is visible.
  • Facebook:  If you don't have a Facebook page yet, get one!  Post on your studio's facebook wall at least once a week if not multiple times.  For extra credit, mix up your posts between photos, videos and regular "Classes start soon – not too late to register!"
  • Twitter:  If you have a large Twitter following, that may be the way to go.
  • Email:  Keep an email list of everyone who has ever asked for information for classes.  Send email blasts once a month or so.
  • Demo Classes: Offer free demonstration classes and see if you can get them listed in local community calendars or websites.

Continued after the jump…
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