Written by Georgie, Director of TRS South Kent and Level Three TRS Teacher

After an amazing first term at Singlewell Primary last time, I was so excited to get back to it this term. And, well this term has been a bit of a rollercoaster! I had two very different dances to teach this term, Contemporary and Waltz. Contemporary was for year 1 and Waltz was with year 4.

Contemporary, for those of you who know, can be a difficult dance style to learn and has a huge variety of styles within itself. For year 1, I didn’t want to focus solely on technique as this would have been difficult to get within 5 weeks, but I did use that for warm ups. I started with a roll down to get their bodies moving and learning about the spine and how everything connects with it. They really grasped this and I was so impressed. I then did a ‘swing’ exercise. I told the participants the swing was my favourite at the park, and most agreed. We pretended to be the swings at the park, using different ways of swinging… with our backs, our arms and even our legs! We then did a bit of improvisation with floor work. I gave examples of how to move from one end of the room to the other, but only using the floor. They had to stay below a certain level and they absolutely loved this! They had such creative, expressive ideas that I even learnt a few more moves.

Our theme for our dance was emotions. I know lots of children learn this in schools and I wanted them to express themselves as much as possible in the dance, so I thought emotions would be a great way to do this. I chose the song ‘This is me’ from The Greatest Showman, as I hoped a lot of them would already know this and the lyrics to the song really suited this idea. Over the weeks I taught them the dance and we used 5 different emotions. We started off sad, then used: scared, disgust, anger and finally joy. With these students being year 1, I used images from the Disney film ‘Inside Out’ which helped them to understand each emotion better. They performed the routine amazingly and really got into character. Both the teacher and I loved watching their final performance.

They also got to be creative in groups. I split them into 5 groups and gave each group a different emotion. When they first started there was a lot of talking and sounds as well as being very literal in their movement. This was to be expected. However, by the last week, all talking was gone and they really thought outside the box to use movements to express their given emotion.

Year 1 worked so hard this term and I was so impressed by them! Well done all of you!

My next session at Singlewell Primary was with year 4’s. I was a bit nervous as I had been given the Waltz to teach them, and that age group would possibly not like the idea. However when I spoke to the teacher on the first day, she wasn’t happy with that idea either. I asked what they were doing in class and she mentioned The Iron Giant… which just so happened to be one of my favourite films growing up! I quickly developed a plan on the spot for that lesson and then later revised the ideas to come up with a medium term plan from the next week, and here’s what it was…

I started off with a simple warm up, using the idea of robotic moves. In each corner was a different specific movement and they had to walk around the room in different ways until I clapped my hands, when they would go to a corner and do that move. We had robot turns, robots running out of battery, ‘Iron Man’ style flying jumps and old school robot dancing.

Next was a teacher led part, an additional warm up focusing on very sharp movements, mainly involving right angles. I also used a bit of ‘tutting’ from street dance which the group grasped really well, but they soon realised how tiring it could be!

I then started to teach them their dance. Which involved a lot of robotic movements and canons. We were using the idea of restarting a faulty robot. So, one minute they would be really strong and the next they would flop and need rebooting. Dynamics soon became apparent and they really got the idea of this and enjoyed going from one part to another.  

Over the weeks they also worked in pairs, creating their own version of the story – The Iron Giant. One of them would be the robot, and the other the small boy who helps him on his journey. I wanted the class to show the difference in the way each could move. For example, a robot would be really stiff and a human would be able to flow a lot better. Before I even mentioned this to the class, the majority had already picked up on this idea which was fantastic! Once they had choreographed the first part, I then told them to switch roles. Within their dance they each came up with a creative way to transition and show the change between them.

By the time we were showing the routines, I couldn’t believe the support they showed one another and even those who weren’t so keen to begin with really enjoyed themselves and came up with some great ideas! I really enjoyed watching this group progress further week by week. Well done year 4!

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