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!