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”?
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Pumpkin Creative Movement

PumpkinsI read Maria’s great pumpkin patch creative movement idea and was inspired to try it in my classes this past week!  And check out this post at Maria’s Movers for even more ideas.

I teach two ages of creative movement – 4’s & 5’s and an older group of pre-modern students (ages 8-11).  Both loved the new activity!

The 4’s & 5’s

Growing Pumpkins

First we had a quick discussion about pumpkins:

  • What shape and color are they?
  • Where do they come from?
  • How they grow?
  • Can we eat them?
  • What’s inside a pumpkin?

We planted ourselves in the room and grew very, very slowly.  My assistants pretended to be farmers and people going pumpkin-picking and they inspected each pumpkin.

Our pumpkins rolled around the room for a bit and then we started over.  This time, the pumpkins were painted with happy, silly or scary faces.  They had fun making faces while they were pumpkins.

A Sea of Pumpkins...

Pumpkin-Picking

Next we changed roles and went pumpkin picking.  My studio is in a suburban area surrounded by farms, so many of the students were familiar with the idea of pumpkin picking. Our movements:

  • Tip toe through the rows
  • Jumping over pumpkins
  • We picked out our favorite pumpkins and brought them to the middle of the room to make a pumpkin pile
  • We repeated to find the heaviest, the tiniest, the fattest and the roundest pumpkins and carried, lifted, rolled, and pushed them into our pile
I also asked them what else they might see in a pumpkin patch and we saw:
  • Crows that flew, perched and caw’ed
  • Grass and corn that stood tall and waved in the wind
  • Creepy crawly bugs and worms
  • Scarecrows that stood very still and had stiff arms and legs
  • hayride that we all got on together and rode around the room to finish our exercise!
Pumpkin Carving Party

Ages 8-11: Beginning Modern / Creative Movement

I used these exercises as a warm-up.  It was a nice change for them and they seemed to enjoy it:

Growing Pumpkins

Surprisingly enough, we started the same way, but with less instruction.

  • Slow growing from a seed to long twisty and stretch vines that covered the floor (focus on moving slowly and stretching our bodies)
  • Growing big leaves and even a few flowers (continue stretching)
  • Growing a pumpkin (making a round shape)
  • Rolling around as a pumpkin1
  • Being carved to have a funny, silly, happy or scary face (some used just their faces, others used their whole body)
  • Being left out on the porch too long and rotting!

1 We have been learning rolls where we hold our ankles in the butterfly position (my modern instructor at college called these “UFO’s”… not sure of the ‘correct term’).

Pumpkin-Picking

I tried to incorporate our modern dance vocabulary into our movements:

1) Prancing: We didn’t want to get our shoes muddy, so we pranced through the rows (and hopped over pumpkins in our path).

2) Triplets:  We put boots on and squished the mud with our up-up-squish (down).

Pepitas (Toasted Pumpkin Seeds) 3of3We chose pumpkins and explored how it was like to move with our pumpkins (we are currently exploring weighted-movement, so this fit in perfectly).

We repeated this a few times with various sizes,  various ways to carry our pumpkins and then we found the Biggest Pumpkin Ever and tried to move it but it wouldn’t budge.

Pumpkin Carving

We decided to carve the Biggest Pumpkin Ever right there!  We cut the top off and climbed inside (it truly was a big pumpkin!).  Other movement ideas:

  • Scooping out the seeds and “gross stuff”, as my students put it
  • We had a little food fight by throwing the seed chunks as each other
  • We scraped around the inside, which was great spiraling movement
  • Climbing back out, we carved a large face in our pumpkin
  • Climbing back in, we pushed hard on the face parts to “pop” them out
  • Lighting a candle or light inside the pumpkin
Want even more pumpkin dance ideas? Check out Maria’s latest post with three more pumpkin movement ideas.

Have you done any fall-inspired activites with your classes?

Share in the comments!

Dance Imagery, Illustrated

Finally got around to posting this for the April Challenge – favorite Dance Imagery!

I was reading Moira’s response to the challenge about Irish Dance imagery (or lack thereof) and realized that all of my imagery happens when I teach modern, jazz or ballet… not too much in tap class.  I am going to pay attention in the next few months and see if I can’t come up with some tap imagery.

In the meantime, here are my favorite images, which all happen to be in ballet.  Probably because my youngest students are my ballet class and I try to use a lot of imagery to help concepts stay in their minds and bodies.  Enjoy… and please don’t laugh too much at my drawing skillz 🙂

Balloons on the ears!
Balloons tied to your ears:  To keep necks long, and ankles, knees, hips and shoulders over toes in releve, I ask my students to pretend they have balloons tied to their ears to keep them lifted up.

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April Blog Challenge: Dance Imagery

“Flip the pancake!” my ballet teacher used to say as we did our fouettes (jumps not turns).  “Pretend your pelvis is a bowl of soup… don’t spill the soup!” was another one of her favorite metaphors.

This month’s challenge is to share your favorite dance imagery–either sayings that you use as a dancer or teacher, or favorite visuals your teachers use.

Share a your dance sayings on your blog and then come back here and leave a comment with a link to your post so we can all share!

If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate!  Just leave a comment below.

Click here to see past blog challenges.

Teaching Tip: Sticky Tendus

I got this visual teaching tip from watching my ballet teacher’s preschool and Ballet 1 classes.

Her class was practicing tendu and the students had very slow and articulate feet during their parallel (preschool) and turned out (Ballet 1) tendus!  After class, I asked what her secret was and this is how she teaches tendu:

1.  Take out your imaginary piece of gum and chew it up so its really sticky (in the preschool class, everyone gets to say what flavor/color gum they are having)

2.  Take out some of your sticky gum and put it under your toes!  (An explanation of why we only do this with imaginary gum and never at home is also given at this point)

3.  With straight legs, try to slide the foot out… but the toes are very hard to move!  Finally we get all the way out and the gum pulls us back to the starting position.  Repeat while teacher says “sticky sticky (foot slides out) tendu (close)!”

4.  Repeat with the other foot.

As they progress during the year, the teacher only needs to say “sticky sticky tendu” and the students recall the sticky sensation and slow down while pushing through their toes.  I think this imagery would also benefit older students – after all, who doesn’t love a little silliness in their class every now and again?

Hope it helps you or your classes!  What teaching tips do you have for tendus?