Winter Olympics-Inspired Movement

While my studio is in the process of getting buried under a foot of snow, I figured I would spend my surprise free time planning some olympics-inspired creative movement for tomorrow’s classes.

Pass The Torch – Traveling

You could pass an imaginary torch or a “real” prop (as simple as an orange scarf).  Have your dancers spread out around the room.  When the dancer has the “torch”, them must dance the torch to the next person and then sit down to indicate they already had a turn.  The final dancer brings the torch to the designated “torch lighting station” (could be teacher, or spot in the room).

Pass The Torch – Stationary

Spread out in a line or a circle close enough to touch another person’s out stretched hand.  Begin to pass the torch using different levels and different body parts until it reaches the end.  If you are using a prop, see how far the class can pass it without dropping.

The Slowest Bobsled Race Ever Won

Connect your dancers into teams of 2, 3 or 4 dancers and have them sit one in front of each other in a straddle (like a caterpiller).  Have them hold onto each other at the shoulders or hips so that they are connected.

The goal is to move as a unit over a certain distance (we used tape lines about 5-6 feet apart).  Give them time to practice–they will learn quickly they have to work as a team to move without becoming disconnected!

Line up your “bobsleds” and the first group to completely cross the finish wins.  Disqualify any team that separates.

Variations:  Try a whole-class bobsled!  Or backwards or sideways bobsled race!

Ice & Snow Improv

Adapt usual creative movement exercises to be set at the olympics.

Suggested Musical Tracks

Have you been watching the olympics?  Have you done any lessons based on the olympics?  Is anyone else ready for spring?!

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Happy New Year & My Favorite Smoothie

IMG_5672Happy New Year, people of the Internet!  Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  Mine was filled with traveling and family and friends and a nice break from the studio.

A lot of us make resolutions this time of year that have to do with healthier living, eating better, and creating habits to lead to wellness.  I’ve been wanting to share my favorite smoothie with you all for a while and I thought this was the perfect time!

My first instinct in the morning is to grab some cereal or toast or something bread-y and this is a quick alternative that still tastes good and starts my mornings off with some fruit.  Hope you enjoy it!
Here’s what you’ll need:

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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?

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!

Halloween Playlist

Looking for some new songs to add to your Halloween playlist?  Here are some suggestions to spice up your playlist.

All links open in iTunes – The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate

Tap


dancing pumpkinSuperstition – Stevie Wonder
– classic with a moderate tempo

Love Potion No. 9 – The Clovers

Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

Devil With the Blue Dress On – Mitch Ryder – keeps those toes a-tapping

Headless Horseman – Kay Starr – tells the story of the Headless Horseman in a cheery sort of way

Little Demon – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins– a fun 50’s rock-sounding tune

Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical

Howl – Florence + The Machine

I Put a Spell On You – From “Hocus Pocus” soundtrack, or Nina Simone, and the cover by She & Him is particularly haunting

Howlin’ for You – The Black Keys – we’ve been using this for across the floor combinations in my jazz classes this week – works good for turns and battements

Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You) – Aqualung – a melancholy melody in 3/4 time

Other Fun Songs

Dinner With Drac, Pt 1 – John Zacherle

What’s A Girl To Do – Bat For Lashes – basically the plot to Twilight summed up in a song

Grim Grinning Ghosts Remix – (link opens to YouTube – couldn’t find a link) could maybe use this for hip hop?

And of course, you have to add The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) – Ylvis just for fun!

Looking for more ideas?

Check Out My Interview at Maria’s Movers

recital nutcase

I was so excited when Maria invited me to be a part of her “Creating With Kids” interview project!  Her goal is to interview 52 children’s dance teachers this year and I have loved reading the other interviews, especially those who don’t work in the traditional studio setting.

You can read my interview over at her blog – Maria’s Movers

And check out all her great creative ideas while you’re there! 🙂

Thanks again Maria for inviting me to participate in your project!

Western Week Day #3: Into the Sunset

For Day #3 of our Western Week Dance Camp we are learning more new dance steps and finishing up our sunsets!

Day #3 Agenda

8:50-9:00am – Parent Drop-off / Student Sign-in
9:00-9:30am – Warm-up – we made Negative Space Statues
9:30-10:00am – Jazz Dance class – adding on to our dances
10:00-10:45am – Craft –
10:45-11:00am – Snack Time
11:00-11:45am – Tap Class – reviewing yesterday’s dance
11:45-12:00pm – Games / Cool-down – we made an obstacle course

Day #3 Crafts: Cowboy Sunsets (Part 2) & Bead Pins

Part Two of Cowboy Sunsets:

Yesterday we made the “sunset” portion of the craft and had to let the coffee filters dry overnight.

Adding dye to the coffee filters

Prep Work for today’s craft: Cutting out the rims of paper plates

Today we will make and decorate the frames.  Here is our set-up for today’s portion of the craft:

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