Proprioception is the body’s unconscious ability to sense the position, location and movement of the body and it’s parts. In dance this is often referred to as spatial awareness. In ‘Every Child a Mover’, Jan White describes it as “An awareness of the body, knowing where our limbs and ‘edges’ are and where our body is in space.”
The Vestibular Sense refers to the body’s vestibular sensory system that monitors and adjusts it’s sense of balance and orientation to the world. This sense is what keeps the us upright while standing, sitting or walking and it is primarily located in the inner ear.
Together proprioception and the vestibular sense allow us to move purpose, grace and without knocking into things (sometimes!), but as with all our senses and most bodily functions, we have to learn how to use them and they can be developed and improved slightly throughout life. Babies and toddlers, have to develop these skills from scratch and they are still developing through primary school. Young people, teenagers through adolescence, often suffer temporary loss or impairment of proprioception and the vestibular sense.
In general, for young children developing these areas of body awareness is achieved by doing as many different movements in as many different ways as possible. This blog post will explore some specific ways in which we can support these areas of development and changing needs within our dance classes. This blog post does not refer to when there is a medical need for improvement. For these times professional medical advice should be sought. This blog post is designed to support those who work with children and young people.
Mariinsky’s Swan Lake The corps de ballet must be keenly aware of where their bodies are in space.
Balance is associated with the vestibular system as well as the motor and visual systems more so than with proprioception, but they still work in tandem.
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.
You can use balance to bring everyone back to focus anytime during the school day or at the end of a cool down as a calming item. Just ask the group to stand with their feet slightly apart (in ‘place’) and the slowly rise up onto the balls of their feet. They could hold their arms out to the side or on the hips to help them. Closing eyes emphasises the affect on their balance development as well as their focus.
Another fun balance game is sitting on a ball. This works with balls of lots of different sizes, but they can’t be spongey because then they squash flat. Ask the children to pick a ball and take it to their space. The aim is to sit on the ball for the duration of the song. If they find it easy the task can be developed for body parts or types of balance. This is great for a creative dance class where balls are used as a prop or for one of our ball skills classes (all sorts of ball props and creative dance coming together! Imagine soft squishy snowballs, shakey cat bells and giant balloon balls all in one very fun class for under 5s!).
Have you ever wondered why babies prefer to be in bare feet? My daughter spends a great deal of time removing shoes and socks and she was one of the reasons I began learning more about the vestibular sense and proprioception because refereed to a lot when researching physical development in babies.
Going barefoot helps to map the body and, although many dance styles require shoes to be worn in class, tap, character and street come to mind, we can help children in their development by encouraging them to move barefoot in creative dance or for sections of a dance class.
Part of a creative dance class could explore different ways the feet come into contact with the floor… stamping, jumping, sliding, tip toes, feet edges (being extra careful!), light taps and stronger taps etc. Barefoot races with different forms of travelling such as running, hopping, galloping or slime slid
es (when the floor is covered in slime and you have to get through it but sometimes it’s slippery and then suddenly it’s sticky and then it’s back to slippery again).
Going barefoot can also apply to our Active Armchairs sessions with older adults, many of whom spend most of their lives in slippers or shoes. Perhaps we could organise a barefoot class with sensory boxes for the feet (sand or tiny fluffy pom poms), a giant elastic to signify the edge of the sea for dipping toes in and a ball to try and keep under the foot.
For a little bit more about Barefoot Babies you can read Dr Kacie Flegal’s article:
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!
Props can also help. Games with lycra such as when the group holds the lycra and an individual makes shapes underneath or all sitting around the lycra pushing the feet and hands up to make shapes.
Move With Others
As well as moving by themselves, children develop their vestibular sense by being moved by others. This includes everything from being thrown in the air by a fun uncle to giving and / or receiving a great big bear hug! This links in with body pressure (above).
Some rhymes and games can be done with a friend or as a group and these make a great brain break during the school day or a quick, related or unrelated section in a dance class. Some to try include Row, Row,Row Your Boat, Ring a Roses, In and Out The Dusky Bluebells and many of the songs that involve horses, but performed with a partner or sitting on an adults lap (perfect for our TRS Tots classes!). Try Mother, Father and Uncle John, This is the Way The Lady Rides or Horsey Horsey.
In our school staff training programme, Dance: A Cross-curricular Approach, we teach staff how to give ownership of the movement to their pupils. Although this does make it a lot easier and more enjoyable for school staff who are teaching dance as a subject, it is also very beneficial for the pupils. It has been established that children learn through play and at their own pace. When developing body awareness, children have to go through a process in their own time. A creative dance class supports this order of development because it both gives young children the opportunity to move in the way their body needs to move on that day and also includes sections of taught movement that provide examples of other things they could do.
As the Government has promised funding for PE and Sport will last longer and to better effect, I’ve decided to explore how The Right Step’s dance classes and teacher training specifically relate to government guidelines and the 5 key indicators. Click HERE to see the guidelines that I’ve referred to below. I’ve also added some links to useful websites that talk further about dance and movement in the curriculum.
Schools must use the funding to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE and sport you offer.
The Right Step’s dance artists (known as TRS Teachers) are all highly trained and regularly take part in Continued Professional Development (CPD). They also have the backing of the company and their peers to support them. The quality of all TRS dance classes is high and we are always working to improve everything we do.
We also offer CPD for primary schools staff (predominantly teachers and HLTAs) so that they can deliver dance themselves, as a team. This raises the standard of dance throughout the school in one go. Although dance wouldn’t be an additional part of the curriculum (it is already an essential part), our cross-curricular approach gives staff the confidence, skills, tools and opportunity to provide dance classes more often because pupils learn as they dance.
We offer dance throughout the school day with extra curricular classes taking place before school, at lunch and after school and cross-curricular classes happening during the day. This means schools are able to provide dance for more pupils, building on previous capacity.
The guidelines give 5 key indicators “that schools should expect to see improvement across” and refer to the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation that children and young people engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. 30 minutes of this should be within school time.
A varied programme of extra-curricular dance for each key stage and cross-curricular dance for each year group (we can deliver this approach in the EYFS as well as KS1 and 2) provides the opportunity for schools to boost the amount of time pupils spend doing physical activity without taking time away from learning.
Every TRS Teacher has different experiences and training so we can offer many different dance styles as well as some fitness classes. In the extreme, pupils can experience Gumboot dance from Africa one term and Tudor Dance the next. A broader range of experiences is available to pupils because the TRS team can work together to provide it. For more information click HERE to read about some of the other dance styles we have on offer.
Although we don’t offer dance competitions (competitive sport is part of the guidelines) because we have a participatory approach within the company, the profile of physical education can be raised across the school with performances. Pupils can take part in assemblies, school fairs, when filmed in class (we have been part of online advent calendars in the past!) and performances for parents.
This is just a quick overview of how our provision relates specifically to the guidelines. One Dance UK have written a more in depth study about “Delivering Dance Through The PE and Sport Premium Funding”
Over the half term we held some sharing sessions for the TRS Teachers. Both for our schools dance classes as well as our Active Armchairs classes. It was lovely to have so many teachers involved, and from all different levels of the TRS team. Sharing ideas and collaborating with one another is a vital part to The Right Step’s ethos and we enjoy it so much.
Firstly, we started off with our Schools Dance sharing. Becca, our Schools Dance Co-ordinator started us off with a great warm up to Bamboleo by the Gypsy Kings. This was a warm up she had done for a carnival theme in a school, so she included the use of bright feathers. Whilst we had the feathers out we discussed different ideas to use them for, for example using them to tickle different body parts. As well as talking about behaviour management within the class. As feathers and any sort of prop can be a slight distraction, especially with younger children. So, using ideas such as ‘Put your feathers on your head’ to keep them still and focused works really well.
Next Georgia shared her ‘weather’ game with us. We created different movements to represent the different types of weather, from sunshine to rainbows to twisters to lightening. You can start off by giving a couple of examples then get your class to help you come up with the rest. A great way to build up movements to use throughout your class. Then you walk, jog, skip and gallop around the room. When the teacher shouts out a weather you do the action that represents this. We discussed how you can use the main idea for this game and change it to the different themes that you may come across in your classes such as superheroes of jungles.
Hayley, one of the newest members of the TRS team shared an exercise where the idea is to walk around the room, but you are lead by a certain body part; for example your hand. Using this to ‘pull’ you around the room. Then you can switch to different body parts! The more interesting the better! We had elbows, bottoms, knees, and ears. A great way for children to learn about themselves and their bodies!
I then shared some cross-curricular ideas. I had chosen some words from some of last year’s book week books such as ‘The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. Ben’ and using these I laminated individual letters, and had the students create as many different words as they could within a set time. This promoted team work as well as using Literacy within a dance lesson.
We discussed lots of different ways to which we can use these ideas throughout our lessons. Coming up with more ideas, for example with the letters. You can then get the children to make the shape of the letter using their own bodies. We also looked at cool downs, how you can take movements which you have learnt in class and repeat them but slowly to start cooling the bodies down!
Overall it was a very successful Schools dance sharing! And we can’t wait until the next one.
The next Sharing was for our adult dance classes, mainly focusing on Active Armchairs. Again, a lovely turn out, we had a good mix of previously trained Active Armchairs Facilitators and our new trainee’s too.
I shared my warm up to ‘Love and Marriage’ by Frank Sinatra. This has been used for various themes within classes and as it is a well known song, most participants enjoy it. I also shared my ‘around the world’ theme using a blow up globe. This is great for conversations, discussing where they have been, where they want to go. You can also use it to practice co-ordination for example throwing and catching or rolling across to another participant. Finally, I shared a dance to ‘Let’s twist again’. This is a great song to use again as most know it and it encourages participants to twist, which can be something that they use less as they get older. It also included the hand jive and jazz hands for an all around fun dance!
Clare shared a few of her favourite things she’s been doing recently. She brought in her stretchy material to show us. These are great as they work like resistance bands but aren’t as strong so anyone can use them. She used pieces of lycra material and cut them into strips. We then went around in the circle and came up with a movement each, which we then put all together to create a dance! She also shared with us her lovely cool down to ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ which is such a lovely song and a great way to finish a session.
Georgia shared some of her exercises that she has been using in class. She showed us her foot exercise to ‘Jailhouse Rock’ another great upbeat, toe-tapping song to which most people know! This works really nice as a foot exercise as it’s a nice steady beat, and she even included a bit of a wiggle and boogie for the chorus so that participants can have their own creativity in there. She also shared her dance to none other than ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi. Again, a fantastic sing along that most know. This was really fun as we got to play the drums, rock out on a guitar and throw our arms in the air! She also included circles throughout to work through the whole body. Like wrist circles, ankle circles, shoulder circles etc. It was a really fun and beneficial dance.
Again, we had such a great time sharing our ideas, you can see how much by having a quick look through our video below.
Thanks to all that came and shared, looking forward to next time!
TRS Teacher, Georgie, went to Miers Court Primary School to work with year 5. They set her a challenge… use their term theme, allotments, and add in their music topic, Waltzing of The Flowers! Here’s Georgie’s blog post about her time there.
My final term at Miers Court Primary School was with year 5. They were looking at allotments and plants this term. Quite a tricky subject for me to begin with! Then the teacher also told me they were looking at ‘The Waltz of the Flowers’ by Tchaikovsky in music which got the creative juices flowing once more…
The first task I set the group on was in pairs. They would take it in turns to lead one another, copying and mirroring exactly what their partner was doing basing their ideas on the stimulus: growth. Year 5 were fantastic at this, they jumped straight in with this task and had such fantastic ideas. I then asked them to create a small duet in their partners based on the movements they had just tried.
After the duets were done, we then created small solo’s. Again, using ideas that they had previously choreographed basing the whole idea on growing. Year 5 were a bit nervous to begin with, however they ended up creating some excellent solos!
After our duets and solos were finished I then taught the class a waltz. I had some very mixed opinions when doing this as we decided to be very traditional and have boy/girl partners! They picked up the steps so quickly and they really embraced the style. It looked beautiful watching them all dance the waltz and they were so in time it felt like I was at a real ball!
When it came to putting all of the movement together for the show, the idea of the structure was based on the picture to the right.
We started with solos, which then grew into duets and finally, to finish off, we danced our waltz. The students were amazing. They were really supportive of one another and were so professional. It takes a lot of confidence to perform in front of an audience especially with such a well-known style of dance and they really pulled it off. I was so proud of year 5 and I know the teachers were as well.
Sadly, it was my last term at Miers Court Primary school and I just wanted to say a huge thank you to them for having me. It’s been such a pleasure and I would love to go back at any time!
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!
Written by Georgie Tedora, Educating Dance Teacher and Level Two TRS Teacher.
This term at Miers Court Primary School I was working with year 4. The theme this term was ‘Road trip USA’ which is such a broad subject I didn’t know where to start! Then the teacher sent me over the term plan and I saw they would be looking at Native Americans, great!
We started each session with our road trip around USA for our warm up. I printed various landmarks from America and scattered them around the room. When I said stop the students had to go to the nearest landmark and do the movement that we all created to the dance.
Next, we got into groups and created our own totem poles using different levels and each child chose a different animal to be. These turned out fantastically! Here are just a few.
For the next few sessions I told the students about a festival that Native Americans used to celebrate called ‘Powwow.’ Which was a celebration of their customs and traditions. Powwow has dated back years but it is still done to this date. So, we were going to have our own Powwow! I taught them two dances, a male and a female. The male dance was called the traditional dance and was about the warriors stalking their pray. The female dance was called the jingle dance and was about healing and medicine. Year 4 did these so well and really showed the difference in the styles!
They then got into their own groups and created their own either traditional or jingle dance. We had a very good mixture and they really grasped the stories behind them well!
Finally, a very important part of the Powwow is the drums. They create the rhythms to dance to. So that’s what we did, we created our own rhythms in groups using the parts of our bodies to make different sounds. While one group played their rhythm, another would dance to it.
Then it was Showtime! I couldn’t believe how quickly it had come around. The students had made so much material and they put on a fantastic show for the audience. I was very proud of them. I had a fantastic time celebrating in our own Powwow!
Here’s a video of some of the things we did this term!
St Mary’s Primary School invited us in to lead dance classes for every year group for the third year running. The school celebrates Book and Art Week with exciting workshops and unusual classes. Steph and Georgie went along to deliver a varied and extensive timetable of dance!
Written by Georgie, Level Two TRS Teacher, Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator and Educating Dance Teacher
Wow! What a week I’ve had with St Mary’s Primary school and their Book and Arts Week! When I saw the subjects I would be teaching I was so excited!
Firstly I taught year 1 – Aliens and Space. What a great subject! We created our own rocket and flew into space. We explored space and had some great slow motion spacewalks. Then we spotted the aliens! After teaching the short phrase, they went onto group work where I handed them a picture of a different alien each which they had to create a starting position that looked like the alien. The children did this so well! Without even looking at the pictures I could tell who was who. They then created movements like their aliens. When we showed these at the end I was so impressed with what they had done and how much they had learnt and choreographed in that time. What a way to start my week.
Next was Year 4 and Gumboot dancing. I could not wait for this! As the classes came in, the teachers told me that they were very good at dancing and loved it. They were right! I started off with an ‘echo’ game where we would walk around the space and when I stomped the class had to echo back the rhythm I had done. Then I chose some of them to do a rhythm too, and some were very hard! After this, I taught them 3 gumboot phrases and then they had to create their own. We had such variety with these, they used different levels, cannon and formations! They had all practiced them to perfection which sounded and looked great! The last part, I handed each group a set of gumboot steps to follow. But they weren’t allowed to show other groups. At the end they performed these too. I was quite cheeky and played a little trick on them. All the cards said the same thing! It was really good seeing how each group interpreted the steps!
Then I had Reception class – Seasons and Weather. We started off with the 4 corners game and in each corner was a season, each having their own different action to help the children remember what season was what. I then taught them a phrase, using the different seasons and the different weather in each season e.g. snow in winter, sun/hot in summer. After they got into groups and decided on a season then created some movements for it. These were really good, we had sitting by the fire in winter and swimming in the summer! Lastly in groups I handed out some cards and we played pairs – what weather goes with what season. Most of them did this perfectly! I was really impressed!
Year 6 Street Dance was next. They learnt so much! I started off with body popping, which is quite hard in itself and they really grasped it. Then I taught them tutting, some top rock and finally a bit of break dance / floor work. They were very happy when I played the music (Ed Sheeran – Shape of You) I heard a lot of whispered ‘yes’s’ when the song came on! And we put all of these styles of street together to make a routine. They looked great! Giving me some serious attitude and really understanding the different stylistic qualities of each part. They then added on their own routine in groups, and my they were a talented bunch! Each group was so good that I really wanted them to share with one another, so they ended up teaching each other their routines! Such a fantastic group to work with.
Lastly I taught Year 5 – Astronauts and Planets. As the year 1 went so well I decided to use some of these ideas in this one. We started of with a bit of friendly competition and they chose Girls vs Boys. They all wrote down each planet including the Sun on paper plates. I then took each set and really shuffled them up. They then had to put them in certain orders, and the team to get it write and put it in the correct order one the point! The first order was closest to furthest away from the sun, the boys did this in around 15 seconds! The next order was in order of size. The girls one this time which created a tie break situation. Lastly they had to group them into terrestrial planets and gas planets. Anddddddddd *drum roll please* the girls won! It was very close though. After I taught them a short phrase about exploring space, and again we started off in our own rocket position which they created and it looked so good! They then got into groups, chose a planet and had to create a short dance about that planet. Each group came up with such good ideas for their planet and they really went into detail. Year 5 knew so much about space they even taught me a thing or two!
I really enjoyed my time at St Mary’s Primary School, it was so lovely to see how all the children really wanted to get involved and I had so many thank you’s which was lovely to receive. I really hope I can go there again!
Steph taught Country Dancing and Space whilst at St Mary’s. Here’s some feedback about the classes.
“I really enjoyed that, I felt like I was in space!” Year 5 Pupil, St.Mary’s Primary School, March 2017
“The group work really challenged the students, they had some wonderfully creative ideas. I have 5 minutes of film to play back to them” Year 5 Teacher, St.Mary’s Primary School, March 2017
“That was fantastic, it took me back to my school days! We’ll try to remember it so we can keep doing the dance in PE. Thank you” TA about Country Dancing, St.Mary’s Primary School, March 2017
In 2016 we launched a Christmas Facebook Competition for schools to have the chance to win half a day of Educating Dance classes. Halling Primary School won and chose to hold their free sessions during Book Week! Georgie went along to deliver the classes.
Written by Georgie, Level Two TRS Teacher, Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator and Educating Dance Teacher
Hallings new Frock?
Today I went to teach two dance classes for year 3 and 4 at Halling Primary School. As it was Book Week, I decided to focus on a book the year 3 class had been reading; Bill’s New Frock by Anne Fine (1980’s).
It’s a story about a boy who is your typical boy – loves football and doesn’t like girls, but one day he wakes up and he is a girl! He has to wear a pink frock and he learns throughout the day what girls have to go through. I know, a bit bizarre! The children knew so much about it they helped me understand the story better!
I taught a short phrase which explained the story, so we started off asleep and woke up as normal Bill. We then went to school, played football and headed home. When we went back to sleep, and this time when we woke up we saw the dress, and we were horrified! The children had such great facial expression for this part. I then asked them to help me to correct extra movements which included; throwing our dress on the floor, mum telling us off, and sulking in our dress.
Next they got into groups, and I handed each group a pink scarf. They had to make up their own movements using the scarf. They could dress up in it, do some of my phrase with it etc. When we showed the dances, they were fantastic! Each group had such different ideas, and we had some fabulous frocks!
Even though year 4 hadn’t read the book, they really grasped the idea of it and fully got involved. Some of them even said they were going to go and read the book now!
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Halling Primary school and was so impressed with all their hard work.
By Georgie Tedora, Level Two TRS Teacher and Educating Dance Teacher
This term I was working with Year 2 at Miers court Primary and I had already heard such great things about this school from Rebecca, no pressure taking over her wonderful work! Year 2 were looking at their local area and what they had around them and so we became street detectives!
We started with our warm up, ‘Inspector gadget’, where we incorporated some street dance moves. In the warm up we went on a journey to see what places we could find, we came across a; park, church, school, leisure centre, post office and finally a supermarket. Each place had a different action to it for example we stamped at the post office, and reached to the top shelf of the supermarket.
We drew our own maps! After talking about the countryside (having squiggly lines!) and the town centre (having straight lines!) each group decided what map they would draw. They then created their dance by following their own maps. They used different levels to create movements from one road to another. Year 2 were very creative with this, we even had some frog jumps and army crawls!
Our group piece was an element of surprise to us all. The children chose 4 places at random, and 2 modes of transport for our travel. We then choreographed our big routine using ideas from the previous dances but also some more movements of their own. We had a long supermarket line with one group and they were all scanning items at the checkout. The other group created a fantastic park, where some were the roundabout, some were swings, and even a climbing frame! The train popped up in both routines, but we also had a bicycle and a bus!
We had so much material, when week 5 came along for our structuring lesson, the dance was around 10 minutes long each!
Show day came around so quickly and they were fantastic. Each group really performed, we had some great facial expressions when we were detectives! The children did so well to remember all their material and I am very proud of them!
It was such a pleasure teaching year 2, and I can’t wait to teach my next group at Miers court Primary.
Steph and I have a bit of a fitness focus at the moment (we’ve been training teachers at Balfour Infants School!) so we thought we’d share our TOP FIVE TIPS AND IDEAS for getting fitness into the dance class.
Extend it bit by bit:
Teachers can add a little more onto the warm up each week to increase stamina and fitness levels. Perhaps doing an extra count of 8 each week or adding an extra stop in a Circuit Warm Up.
What’s the Circuit Warm Up??
A warm up that gives pupils ownership of their movement and encourages them to work as hard as they think they can.
Go around the room showing dancers the pictures / objects and the movement that relates to them.
Dancers are divided between the stops on the circuit.
When the music starts pupils do as expected for their stop.
Teacher signifies when to move to the next stop on the circuit.
Continue this process until everyone has been to every stop.
If time, ask pupils to choose their favourite stop and try to do even better than last time (competing against themselves)
Here’s our dinosaur example!
Diplodocus stretch, Iguanodon strength (plank), Confuciusornis flying jumps with wing arms, Eoraptor speedy run on the spot, Ankylosauras tail swing (laying on tummies swinging legs), Tyrannosauras partner balance using short arms (glueing elbows to tummies)
Or you could ask the pupils for movements instead!
The photo on the right is the Diploducus stretch!
Sneak in the Healthy Living Knowledge:
Teachers can talk about changes to the body after a particularly vigorous warm up and ask questions like, what do you notice about the heart beat?
If you’re extending the content each week (see number 1) noticing an increase in stamina would fit perfectly. What about food for a healthy dancer?
The Fitness Six…
There are so many warm ups, games and cool downs that require a selection of different movements. The Circuit Warm Up, Plates!, Travel/Stop, Sets of Eight and the list goes on. Next time you use one of these warm ups why not try using one of each of the following? It will force the movements to be varied and the dancers benefit from all the different areas of development.
Strengthening, Balance, Cardio, Agility, Stretch and Teamwork
What is Plates!??
This is an extremely versatile warm up that can also be done as a game or a section of warm up if the teacher prefers not to use all the warm up elements in it. The teacher will need to use paper plates with small pictures and a few words on them to represent each movement.
Go around the room with the dancers placing the plates in spaces and explaining the movements. The items on each plate must relate to the theme.
Dancers space out in the room, away from the plates.
When the music starts the dancers move around the room.
When the tea
cher waves the tambourine or shouts ‘plates!’ dancers go to the nearest plate and follow its instructions.
The next time the teacher waves the tambourine or shouts ‘walk’ pupils go back to walking around the room and so on.
Our Animal Opposites (High and Low) example:
HIGH: Giraffe Tip Toe Balance, Flying Eagle, Frog Jumps
LOW: Wiggley Worms, Clawing Tiger, Spikey Crab
In the photo… Our Medieval Castles (Castle Parts):
Battlement Jumps, Butress Counter Balance, Drawbridge Press Ups (adapted for pupils’ level for safety), Swimming in The Moat, The Tower Stretch, Rampart Star Jumps
Choreograph It In…
When it comes to the choreography section of a class or workshop, sometimes the pace can slow. To keep the fitness focus why not set tasks that encourage the dancers to include certain movements?
Ask the dancers to include at least one jumping movement.
You could use The Fitness Six of the 5 (or 6!) basic actions.
Give them a time limit for their choreography (see tip number 5)
Add an opposites theme such as fast/slow or high/low.
Use Music to encourage fitness…
There are obviously some songs that lend themselves to being used in a fitness focused dance class (carnival songs, drumming, instrumental pop or hip hop songs), but there are also other ways to use music to increase fitness in the dance class.
Zorba the Greek is a song with a clear beat. It starts slowly and gets faster and faster. Even just using it in the background during choreography can make dancers work faster. Try putting a set of eight easy movements to this music. By the end it will be difficult, really silly and a lot of fun!
The Countdown Timer is a famous sound clip and you can get the 30 second long one.
Why not set a task such as create the starting position, play the song and then move onto the next task straight away. This way the dancers have to work fast so choreography can be completed really quickly, but it also gets them excited! Dancers created the freeze frame on the right in 30 seconds and even included levels and thought about hands and heads!