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Travel stop is a good game to improve balance. The participants move around the room in a way that relates to the class theme or using a travelling movement such as a gallop. When the teacher shouts stop and/or holds up a sign to signify stop, the participants hold a still position in a similar way to musical statues. The next stage of this game is to call out a position for participants to get into. For example, in an opposites theme you might ask them to make a low shape and the next time a high shape. This is where the balance comes in, state that they need to be on one leg or show them the balance position you want them to do.
This involves stimulating the receptors in the skin and is great for developing an inner ‘map’ of the body. Movements like rolling, crawling like a baby or a bear, army crawling, crab walking or being a worm or snake are great. All you need is an empty space like a dance studio or school hall!
Each year a member of The Right Step Dance Company warms up the Santa’s for their Fun Run and this year it was my turn!
I was extremely excited (and nervous) to do the warm up this year! I had seen various blogs, photos and videos from previous years and I loved seeing all the whole community come together for such a great event and cause.
When I arrived all, I could see where Santa’s of all shapes and sizes, some even included 4 legged Santa’s too! I then met Rebecca, Lawrence, Gaia (the youngest member of The Right Step, who came fully prepared in her uniform and Santa hat!) and our friend and photographer Nikki came along to support too.
Despite having some horrible rainy weather everyone was in such a happy mood. The DJ was playing some lively music and people were already up and dancing along. It was quite surreal seeing so many Santa’s in one place! The nerves had definitely started to kick in!
Then the DJ announced it was time for me to go on stage and warm up the lovely Santa’s! So up I went. The music started playing, and all the nerves disappeared! I began with ‘Moves like Jagger’ by Maroon 5 and I got them to sing ‘Moves like SANTA’ instead! Which went extremely well! Then as I looked out into to the crowd I saw a familiar face and I saw TRS Teacher, Clare, dancing along which was lovely to see her come along and support to!
Finally I finished off with a classic party dance… the Cha Cha Slide! Everyone got so involved and we had some lovely cha cha’s going on.
So afterwards they were ready and eager to go! Lead by the marching band they all set off through the town ready to start the race. We followed along and cheered the Santa’s as they all went past! Rebecca stayed and got some great photo’s and videos of the finish of the race!
I had an amazing time at the Santa Fun Run 2017, so thank you for having me and huge congratulations to the Rotary Club of Medway and to all the Santa’s for putting on such a fantastic event and raising money for a great cause!
Here’s the video!
By Georgie, TRS Teacher, Educating Dance Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator
This term at Miers Court Primary School I was working with reception class and their topic was “Life on a Farm”. What a great topic! The teachers had already asked me to do some sort of line dancing with the classes, which I was thrilled about!
But first off, we needed to do a warm up. We started off by walking around the room in various directions. In each of the corners there were 4 different animals; a cow, a sheep, a chicken and a horse! When I said an animal, the class had to go to that corner and do the action for that animal. We had galloping horses, skipping lambs, pecking chickens and some very slow movements for the cow! The children were great at really getting the movements of each animal, I almost forgot they were children! The chickens were definitely convincing!
Next onto the line dancing. I taught both groups 2 line dances, one was to 5, 6, 7, 8 by Steps. The children picked this up so quickly! And the upbeat music really helped them to get into the style of the movements. I then taught the “Fuzzy Duck Slide” as I thought this was very fitting to their farm theme. We performed this to a classic country song, “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus, and I must admit I was slightly stunned when some of the children new the song! They really enjoyed this song. So much so, they started to freestyle and play guitars etc. and it looked so good I kept it in for the show performance!
Lastly, in their groups they came up with a freeze frame based on a picture of a farm that I showed them. They looked really good! From there I gave each group a different animal (from the ones I used in the warm up) and asked them to create 4 movements for that animal. These classes had such creative minds and their movements were excellent. We put this altogether for our show.
Then came show day and the children had all dressed up. We had lots of farmers and lots of different animals, an elephant even appeared on our farm! They looked just perfect for the show. I am so proud of reception class, their performance was fantastic, they audience really enjoyed it and gave them a huge cheer. All the children left with huge smiles on their faces, and so they should after all that hard work!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Reception class at Miers Court Primary. They were an absolute pleasure!
Mayflower Care Home hold Active Armchairs, Circle Dance and Active Armchairs One to One sessions with TRS Teachers, Steph and Georgie. They enjoy the sessions so much that they wrote about them in their Winter 2016 Newsletter. They added lots of photos of Rebecca’s Circle Dance classes (currently delivered by Georgie) and described the dancing as a ‘great success’.
Keep up the great work Steph and Georgie!
To read the newsletter in more detail please click and zoom on the photo below…
On Monday we had our All Hands Meeting. We have one every six months and it’s a chance for the team to get together, find out what’s been happening in the company and to plan for its future. Each time we try to have something a bit extra and this time we learnt a bit about phonics!
TRS Teacher Alice used to work as a teaching assistant and in her role at school she learnt a lot about phonics. She was kind enough to share a little of this knowledge so that we could get some insight into what the children learn in class. The Educating Dance teachers (the TRS Teachers training in the TRS cross-curricular approach) also gained some ideas for their classes.
Phonics is an approach used by primary school teachers to teach reading and spelling. Pupils learn sounds of letters and groups of letters and are able to break words down so that they can work out how to write/read the words themselves. They learn quickly and gain independence. When I saw Alice using phonics in her dance class I thought it would be an excellent thing to share with the TRS Teachers. A chance for them to enhance pupils learning and make their classes flow well with what the dancers are already doing in school.
Alice shared the phonics sounds with us first (some are listed on the left). There are lots to learn. Not just the letters of the alphabet, but also the sounds as letters join together to create phonemes. It surprised the TRS Teachers that children learn so much in the process of learning to write and read. It works though!
Next we thought of some ideas for using phonics in class. Things like warm ups that involve phonemes that sound almost the same such as i, ie, igh etc. Perhaps the teacher could give a word containing one of these and the dancers could move to the space that represents the correct one. When we introduce keywords in cross-curricular dance we can now spell them out in a way that dancers will most relate to. Choreography often comes up in class and confuses everyone! This might make things easier. We also talked about the benefits of using phonics in our English cross-curricular classes such as Extended Sentences or during Book Week (the photo shows a BFG workshop during Book Week 2016).
We were left with many ideas and some new knowledge to put into practice! Thank you Alice for sharing. I look forward to the results.
On Monday the TRS team met for November’s All Hands Meeting. We have two a year and use them as an opportunity for the team to get together and discuss the company and ideas for its future. We always go around the table to introduce ourselves because there’s often a new teacher or two and not everyone knows each other well. This time we each shared a Magic Moment from or thought about TRS classes. Here are just a few (the ones I could write down quick enough!)…
When at Fort Horsted I was talking to Edith about my honeymoon and she asked me to smuggle her in my suitcase and take her with me. When I went back again after honeymoon she had a giggle fit. She thought it was so funny that she had asked to be smuggled in a suitcase!
Going to Victory House on a Friday afternoons makes my week complete. I have such a good time. One lady comes in to visit her brother at the time I’m there every week and joins in too.
When I first started at TRS I visited Byron Lodge with Rebecca and Steph. I met Rose. Every time I went in she remembered me and said ‘Oh, you’re back’ and made me feel welcome. More recently, at Mersham Primary, where I’ve been teaching cross-curricular Samba and carnival dance classes, one of the dancers said ‘I don’t want you to go, I want you to stay forever!’
At Warren Wood Academy we played a name game about what we did at the weekend and I told them about shopping for my sister’s wedding dress. After our break, the children had collected some leaves and threw them over me like confetti. I didn’t have the heart to explain it wasn’t my wedding, they were so sweet!
Last week I went to Winchester House with Steph. It was the first Active Armchairs session I’d seen and I’ve never been in a care home in my life. I was nervous and stood next to a nice lady most of the time. When Steph put on the song ‘Time of your life’, a resident, Mark, put his things aside and danced. He was so happy and it made my day.
Once I went to Montgomery Court and only Doff and Mary came to class. It was disappointing at first, they are such big characters that we giggled throughout the whole class. ‘Wonderful World’ is our signature song for cool down. I can’t get away without doing it. Doff now has a toy frog that sings the song. She brought it and it sung as we danced!
I went for a taster session at The Vale. The first session was amazing so I looked forward to the second. Gwen always sits up straight and proper, but when she dances she really shows her character and enjoys herself. There are always residents walking in and out of the room there. By the end there were a lot of people in the room, but instead of sitting down, they stood in the middle and danced! It was like a big party in the end.
We enjoyed hearing the Magic Moments so much that we’ve decided to make a big thing of it. There will be lots of Magic Moments going out on our Facebook page and we hope to make them a permanent addition! Check them out here… https://www.facebook.com/therightstepdc/
Nervousness is something that dancers are familiar with. The chances are that every dance teacher has experienced nervousness just before a performance. Back stage, sweaty palms, forgetting the first move, needing the loo when you only just went. Everyone experiences it differently and most dance teachers have learnt how to manage stage fright.
Nervousness as a community dance practitioner can be a very different thing. It might happen just before class or a new exercise (“oh no, what comes next!?”) It might be that the mountain of admin is the scary bit so it gets put aside (see Mountain Management). It might be driving nerves or what if? nerves. Whatever the cause there are things that can be done and I’ve put a few ideas here. I suffer from nervousness in a big way because I always think too much. These things have helped me, but it’s important to find what works for you as well.
The Deep Breath
Yes, we’ve heard it before. Take a deep breath before moving on. It works though. Last Thursday I sat at lunch with some other business owners. It was clear we were all having a stressful week for one reason or another and that meant everyone was a bit tense. I called upon my dance training, we sat up straight and lifted our arms as we took a deep breath in. As we slowly lowered and breathed out I noticed that my (very cooperative) colleagues were quite surprised. Conversation flowed more easily after that. The breathing moment made us happier.
Solve The Problem
Often we worry for a reason that can be solved. Perhaps you’re putting something off or think you have too much to do? Solve the problem and the nerves will go. You might feel proud of yourself too. If you feel there’s too much to do you could solve the problem with a list. Wonderful things that often show you there’s less to do than you think!
Do something different for a few moments. Perhaps you’re nervous because you’re thinking too much or because you have wound yourself up? A couple of minutes of distraction won’t hurt your schedule as much as dwelling on the nerves will so find the distraction technique that works for you. Some ideas…
A few yoga poses
Phone a friend (or fellow dance teacher)
Walk (not even out of the house, just to a different room will do!)
Get Some Sleep
Lack of sleep can cause a vicious circle of nerves and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. A really fantastic trick, one with scientific underpinning and that I believe in, is the 4-7-8. This can also help if you have a late evening class and find it difficult to wind down. Among other things the 4-7-8 slows your heart rate, clears your mind and relaxes you. Breath in for 4, hold it for 7 and breath out again for 8. Count slowly though! It’s tempting to breath more quickly than this, but don’t and you will be rewarded with sleep. There’s lots more information a quick Google away so have a read before you try it.
Whatever the cause of your nervousness it’s so important to choose a solution that fits you and your situation. And if nothing seems to work you can always embrace the nerves and use them to your advantage somehow. One things for sure, nerves tend to scare you into working harder and producing better results!
The final thing I’ve learnt… a lot of the time anxiety is formed from a combination of thinking to much and an over active imagination. With this knowledge it becomes (slightly) easier to reduce the nerves.
So next time you’re feeling anxious about something find something that works for you and try to combat it.
Steph went to St Andrew’s School and worked with Reception to Year 6. There stories were…
Year R – The Three Little Pigs
Year 1 – Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs
Year 2 – The Hedgehog
Year 3 – Bill’s New Frock
Year 4 – Charlotte’s Web
Year 5 – Kensuke’s Kingdom
Year 6 – The Railway Children
“We celebrate World Book Day every year and have a series of planned activities including dressing up, competitions and our Year 6 children prepare and share stories with our Pre-School and Infant classes. The themed dance sessions, linked to the books the children study in class, will provide cross-curricular links, bringing the books alive.”
Mrs Emma Steinmann Gilbert, St Andrew’s School Principal
In Year 6 the dancers used hankies to support siblings as they travelled to Yorkshire. Year 4 were welcomed into the room to find a giant spider web made of wool!
I went to see one of the Year 5 workshops, Kensuke’s Kingdom. Steph taught the class a phrase about waves and the pupils learnt how you can use a phrase lots of times in a dance, but tweak it each time to keep things interesting. They had blue material to use as the sea (I was reminded of Changes in the Current!)
TRS Teachers Sophie and Rebecca went to Greenvale Infant’s this week. I was lucky enough to visit on of the Year 2 BFG workshops. You can see the video of that below.
“It’s really nice to see the children do something different for World book week. All the children were really enthused about the story, and it was lovely to see how dance was used to look at the story without words or picture. It was great that every child was involved and dancing. When they went back to the class room, they were still moving like the monkey and crocodile.”
Mrs Whale, Head of English at Greenvale Infants School
I couldn’t wait to start planning for my sessions based on The BFG as this was one of my favourite books growing up and it still is! I decided there was no better way to start the session then sending the class into the actual story and put themselves in Sophies shoes! We lie asleep, trying not to make a sound and then the music starts with a crash and a bang! What’s that? We tip toe to the window to peer outside into the Witching Hour where we see the most horriblist and ugliest Giant of them all – The Fleshlumpeater! Children run and hide under their duvet (my parachute!), squealing with fright and excitement!
We then met the BFG and Sophie and came up with descriptive words for their characters, everything from what they look like down to their personality. As a class we put actions to each word and created a phrase for each character. The BFG had tall, big, bouncy movements while Sophie had tiny, creeping and delicate movements.
The favourite exercise of the session was undoubtedly The Dreamcatcher Game! In pairs, one dancer was The BFG and the other was a Dream. The BFG had to try and catch the dodging dream!
For group work we created a dream or a nightmare sequence, each group had to choose which one they wanted to create and from their starting position the rest of the group had to decide if they had created a lovely, floaty dream or a frightening nightmare! I felt this was a real success as each group used different qualities of movement to match their chosen dream and the rest of the class successfully guessed their creation.
I visited Greenvale Infants to teach them the wonderful themes of Roald Dahl stories through using creative dance. The stories danced were The Magic Finger , The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me, and The BFG; to Nursery children up to Year 2. Not all the children had read the stories, which made it very exciting – as they really needed to use their imaginations to guess and use their movements to explore it’s themes.
The Magic finger
The nursery children focused mainly on the magic and transformation! By learning a short phrase using their own “magic fingers” to connect with their friends by touching their fingers together, then transforming by wiggling and shaking all over into either a low slinky cat with scratchy arms, like the teacher in the story, or grow wings to glide and flap arms like the Greggs. Or even a waddling duck, like the ones who take over the house in the story. What topped of the session was asking the children dance to “Hooked on a feeling”. Using their jazz hands and jumps to show what it felt like before the magic zapped out of their fingers, then travelling around the room touching fingers and transforming their friends, and copying each other.
The Enourmous Crocodile
The children walked into the room to find, much of their surprise, an Enormous Crocodile taped out on the floor. The children had to describe what he looked like, from his teeth to his tail, and move like the word they used e.g. zig zag teeth and swishy tail. Then the children were introduced to each of the animals in the story and heard how the crocodile was tricky and sly, and sometimes bit the other characters. We explored how these animals might move in the story, such as Trunky would hop and use is trunk to reach in & out; Monkey would swing and jump from tree to tree; Roly Poly bird would fly and her feathers would drift and float in the wind. The children then learnt what tricks the Enourmous Crocodile used to try and capture children (like them!) to swallow them up. The Reception children did a fantastic job suggesting movements and remembering the dance at the very end that we made all together. Using lots of the words and phrases from the story and pictures of the characters, the dancers used so much imagination and were all transported into the jungle.
“My favorite thing of all was all of it!”
“I liked swinging like a monkey.”
“I liked being the crocodile and snapping.”
The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me
This is one of my favourite stories when I was little, as I had loved that the story was about working together to achieve your dreams. For this story the children went on a journey to Grubbers (an empty shop) where we entered Billies dream of owning his own Sweet shop; we moved like the sweets by twisting like candy canes, popping like crackle candy, wiggling like strawberry laces, and by sticking and stretching like chewy sweets.
Then we met the Windowless window cleaning company (Giraffe, Pelly & Monkey) and the children suggested ways we could stretch and reach to show the Giraffes growing magical neck, climb and wipe in patters (circles/zig zags/ up & down), and lastly the scooping and flying of the Pelly using down & up motions. The class follow the story to a game of catching the cobra, where they had to take care and work with each other to stop the jewel thief! Since the main focus was on team work, the children formed trios using a shape (still as a picture in a book) and had to really listen and work together to create their very own dance using the characters movements to show them working as a team to clean all 677 windows of the dukes house.
The children did fantastically well, and really enjoyed using the Pelly and monkey movements to travel around the room. The children all managed to listen and work successfully in their groups, much like the Ladderless window cleaning company.