Tag Archives: creativity

Everybody Moving

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The TRS Teachers are stuck inside and our participants are too. We miss dancing with everyone so we’ve decided to share some ideas for how to keep dancing through the day.

This is a series of blog posts and there will be more content to follow. You can also keep an eye out for other things we’ve shared before, such as the ‘Props Spring Clean’, ideas that will be useful for cleaning lots of different things. This is the first post and it will be followed by ideas for older adults in care homes and another for families at home

Why is this important?

The Government guidance is that everyone should exercise everyday. 0-5 year olds should be active for at least 3 hours a day, 60 minutes for 5 – 18 year olds and 75 – 150 minutes a week for adults and older adults. This is much harder when we’re all stuck inside together!

It’s not just the higher intensity activity that’s the problem though. We also need to avoid sedentary behaviour, or at least break it up with movement. This is where our blogs will help most. 

As most people are stuck inside our mental health is suffering and we need to do all we can to help ourselves. Exercise is an excellent way to do this and dance has other elements that make it even more beneficial such as music and socialising.

By releasing endorphins throughout the day you can keep yourself happier.

How Can We Do That?

Here are a couple of general ideas to get you going. We will share more as we think of them and will also have some blogs that are a bit more specific like our blog for people in care homes and for families at home. 

Big Ideas

We have written some separate posts about these three exciting ideas. Just click on the link and it will open in a new tab. 

Mini Challenges

Pick one or have a tournament. These adaptable ideas will mostly work at any age, for any ability. 
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Dance a Tale

Something inspired by our love of books! Also at any age, for any ability, this one just requires a favourite story. We’ve given some examples to get your started.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Magic Spells

A fan or Harry Potter or other magical adventures? This one is for you! 
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Use Social Media

Some of our dance teachers have been filming themselves doing your favourite dances and exercises from TRS lessons. Find them on our YouTube Channel and copy them.

If you know the dance from one of our lessons why not help someone you’re with learn it too?

There are also a huge number of other people who have classes on YouTube. Have a good search through. The team and their families have been enjoying Andy’s Wild Workouts, PE with Joe Wicks and play dough gym.

Lots of the TRS Teachers also work for other dance companies or have their own dance schools. They have been working hard to move their lessons online and you can now join in with them! Keep an eye on on Facebook for Bridge Academy (Clare’s ballet lessons), Make It Groovy (Jenny’s craft, story and dance lessons for young children), AMG Dance (a selection of dance for children and Dancercise for adults with Alix and her team) and Dance Vibes (Clubbercise and other exercise lessons for adults with Shanice).

Turn the Music up

An idea from Andrea Barker, Confidence Coach, who did some training with us a while ago. Turn up the music and have a dance, wiggle, silly time! Choose some music you can’t help, but move to. It really works and is so uplifting! You could try ABBA, Phil Collins, Disney Singalong, Queen, 70s Disco songs, Happy by Pharell, Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake or Sing a longs like Daisy Daisy and Lambeth Walk. TRS Director, Rebecca and her daughter, Gaia demonstrate in the TRS Office.

When the TV says…

The basics of this game might be familiar to some!

Allocate different movements to words. For example ‘Hello’ is a star jump, ‘Yes’ is air punch etc. When someone on the television says ‘hello’, everyone has to do a star jump.

You could also put a hat on the corner of the screen and do a move everytime someone wears it!

Bubble wrap pop

If you happen to have some bubble wrap, lay it on the floor or table, turn the music up and pop, pop, pop in as many different ways as you can.

For adults in care homes this is great for fine motor skills. For families, this will probably lead to some larger movements such as rolling and stamping.

 

 

Skiffle Band

Skiffle is a music genre from the US in the 1920s. Musicians used cobbled together instruments, some manufactured and some home made, to perform jazz, blues and folk music. It also involved a lot of dance.

For this, everyone needs some sort of made up instrument. They used to use wash boards! Use your imagination, this can be fun in itself. Then you just have a jam and enjoy the noise!

For young children, as Harleigh demonstrates in the photo, this is just sensory play. For older children, young people and adults this could lead to a performance of a piece if you’re clever!

Shadow Puppets

This can be done with hands only, actual puppets or anything else! You need a shadow wall which is reasonably plain and flat. You could do this in the evening when the natural light goes away. Turn the lights off and hold a torch behind the person being or holding the puppet. Admire the movements they create and the story they tell!

 

Now that you have some initial ideas, choose your favourites and give them a go.

If you’re home schooling, schedule the ideas in for brain breaks, as part of PE time or as just for fun things to do as a family. 

Next, try our other Everybody Moving blog posts for more ides and keep an eye out on our social media for more ideas, challenges and videos. 

Everybody Moving – Care Homes

Everybody Moving – Families at Home

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Book Week 2020

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Thank you Georgie for compiling this blog post…

This year we had lots of wonderful Book Week sessions. We went back to schools we’ve been to before such as Halling Primary and Balfour Infants, but we also got to go to new schools to, like Rosherville Primary and Palace Wood Primary School. The TRS teachers has some wonderful lessons and they wanted to share their experiences with you, so here you go….

 

Rebecca Ashton – Company Director

“I opened The Whale by Vita and Ethan Murrow expecting to read it before planning my dance lessons, but was surprised to find out that it was a picture book! A really beautiful picture book. The artists have done an amazing job and I was excited to find lots of inspiration for the workshops with Year 4 at Palace Wood.

I already knew some of the dancers from dance club and it was lovely to see how excited they were to do dance during school time. We started off with a warm up about the things that are negatively affecting whales. 6 out of the 13 great whale species are endangered and it’s no surprise when you look into what their up against. We had a movement for each item such as frantically trying to get out when ‘Entangled’ in a net or doing stretches that cover your ears for ‘Noise Pollution’.

Next we did some improvisation and I was so impressed with how everyone did. Although many were shy to start with, once they got into it, they surprised themselves and were very inventive.

The choreographic task was about teamwork and the senses the two children in the book used to find the whale. They had to include certain things such as balances as starting positions and a movement to represent each sense, except taste (we laughed that we wouldn’t be tasting the whale!). For one class I asked them to do this in groups and for the second I asked them to work in pairs or threes. It was interesting to see the difference, they all did really really well and every single dance was very different.

They showed each other the dances and gave each other thumbs up to show they enjoyed watching.

To finish we had cool down. We made a long whale shape out of partner arches down the middle of the room. I led the class under the arches and we did a follow the leader cool down that finished in a line near the door.

The groups did really really well. We only had an hour for each, but if they wanted to, they could extend the dances and create a class dance using the movements from warm up to create a motif, the improvisation section to lead into their group work and their traveling movements to get into the cool down whale shape as an ending position. There are a lot of ideas that could be used for dance in The Whale!

I’d like to say well done to all of the year 4s. They did fantastically, I had a wonderful time and I hope to see them all again soon.”

 

Georgie Tedora – Level 3 TRS teacher and Educating Dance Facilitator

I have been going to Halling Primary School for dance clubs and events for some time now so when the opportunity for a Book Week session came up I jumped at the chance! Especially as their theme was ‘Fantasia – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ which is one of my favourite stories.

We started off with a simple 4 corners type warm up. Each corner had a different magical move to go along with the story. The students got really involved and made such big movements that they were very warmed up afterwards!

I then taught them a choreographed piece using the three main characters – The Sorcerer, the apprentice (in this case Mickey Mouse) and the broomstick. I taught the whole class the routine, which told the story and then they decided what part they wanted to play. We then had 3 groups and we put the entire dance together. They did amazingly, really getting into the characters and performing!

Lastly, we did a creative task in pairs. They chose who was ‘A’ and who was ‘B’ and had to take turns mirroring each other and being the leader. After some experimenting with movements, I then told them they had to decided who was the apprentice and who was the broom. They  choreographed short dances showing the apprentice teaching the broom what to do, and then the broom misbehaving and not being a very good ‘human’. The participants got really involved and there were so many wonderful ideas. Each duet was completely different and definitely sparked more ideas for me in the future!

I always enjoy my time at Halling Primary, but this time I was blown away by their enthusiasm and ideas. Thank you for having me!

 

Jess Smith – Level 2 TRS Teacher and Educating Dance Teacher

Balfour Infants Year 2 – The Owl Who Was Afraid of The Dark

While at Balfour Infants we explored explosive movements to mimic fireworks and the movements of an owl. We had a discussion and practice of the different movements an owl would do. We started our owl movements with waking up, working together to stretch and practice our flight movements ready for our big jump down to the fireworks.

In groups we used different props to explore firework movements, we had egg shakers, scarves and liquid gold.

There were some great creative ideas when it came to creating the groups’ firework pieces, well done!

Balfour Infants Year R – Pirates

A day in the life of a pirate!

We worked together to choreograph our day, this included raising the mast, climbing to the lookout point with our telescope and treasure maps, using our canons to shoot down other pirate ships, fighting off the enemy with a sword fight, and hunting and digging for buried treasure.

There was a masking tape outline of a boat on the floor (and an X to mark the spot of buried treasure) to assist us with our positioning and activities for the day in the life of a pirate.

This worked really well as it helped with a visual representation of the tasks.

We had time in the class for the dancers to create their own day using the movements we had done already.

This led to some great exploring and imagination from everyone. Well done!

 

Rosherville Primary Years 4/5, 5 and 6 – Where the Wild Things Are

While at Rosherville we made our own journey to the Wild Things using exploration and imagination.

We rowed our boat, made our way through the forest by swinging on vines, getting ourselves out of mud and swimming through a lake.

In groups we created our own ‘rumpus’ using movements we had already done in the warm up and throughout the session, then headed back to our room by making our way back through the forest.

This was my first time at Rosherville Primary School and I was very impressed with the creativity and imagination from all year groups. Good job everyone!”

 

Louise Spearing – Level 2 TRS teacher and Educating Dance Teacher

This Book Week I explored the story of ‘The Lost and Found’ by Oliver Jeffs. Making the story come alive and taking the children into the book through movement. The adventure was set out by different sections around the room including an outline of a boat and magical snowball game corner. The children were able to engage with the book physically.

We built the boat on the floor and rose higher to make the side Then we moved our arms up and down and across the midline to ‘paint the boat’. In a seated line they rowed ‘the boat’ through calm and choppy oceans exploring fast and slow dynamics to the south pole. Arriving at the south pole, they were wobbling about, skating, swimming and belly sliding.

We did a Magical snowball competition to see who could collect the most snowballs. They had to put a scrunched-up scarf under their chins, waddle to the hoop and place it down until all snowballs were gone. 

At the end of the session, I asked the children to create a little bit of movement to show their favourite part of the adventure, which they performed in front of the class. All year 1 were really engaged and creative when it came to group work. Well done!

 

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Contemporary and Robots

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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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Egyptian and Charlston

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Written by Georgie, Level Three TRS Teacher and Educating Dance Teacher

This was my first term at Singlewell Primary. I had heard lots of wonderful things from previous teachers and was excited to go, even more so when I found out the two themes for this term; Egyptian and Charleston! What a great way to rekindle my Educating Dance sessions than with two of my favourites!

Year 3 were doing Ancient Egypt in their lessons so they went for some Egyptian dance. I chose not to focus on ‘up-to-date’ Egyptian dancing, as this is mainly belly dancing and not my forte. However, I was very excited to introduce them to Ancient Egyptian dancing.

Firstly we discussed Egyptian Gods, I gave each corner a God, explained key parts and together we came up for movements. We had Ra; the God of the Sun, and we created a huge sunshine movement. Then we had Horus; God of the sky, who looked like a bird, so we did huge wings. We also had Hathor; the Goddess of love, we gave ourselves a hug. Finally Bastet; a feline creature, where we acted like cats, very proud showing off our coat. I loved seeing the ideas they created. Each week I would test them on names and meanings and the class got better and better each time!

We then worked in groups, I asked a student from each group to close their eyes and pick out a God. We had; Osiris, Ra, Hathor, Seth, Nut and Bastet. The groups each came up with a starting pose to do with their Gods, either with they way the looked or their God traits. Each group was so different it created a wonderful scene for the start of our dance.

The next task was done individually. I gave them the alphabet in Hieroglyphics and asked them to dance out their names. Some of them found this quite difficult as they had longer names! I also did it myself which was fun.

For the starter for this group we created a giant Pyramid (not all climbing on top of one another though!) We used different levels in lines and finished with tiptoes and points to make the top. Each week I challenged them to come into the classroom and make their pyramid before the music ran out.

We then learnt our dance to ‘walk like an Egyptian’. The class really liked this and they had so much focus when learning it. I also included a bit of ‘tutting’ as they use Egyptian like moves in this. The class enjoyed the modern spin that I put on that. The final part of the dance was done in pairs, they had to create strong Egyptian moves using ‘opposites’ as the theme. The class grasped this very well.

The last couple of weeks we put it altogether. Starting with our Gods, then creating a wall of Hieroglyphics at the back of the room. They then came forward and performed their names. Finishing with the walk like an Egyptian dance.

The last week I split them into two groups as we performed them to one another. It was great to see the progression and how much they had developed. It was a lovely start to my time at Singlewell!

 

Year 2 had Charleston for their subject, I was very excited about this. To start with I went over some very basic steps, as the full Charleston is a difficult one! We started with diagonal jumps, twists, flick kicks and crazy knees. This was their warm up, they would walk around in ‘Jazzy’ ways and when I tapped the tambourine they would go to the nearest corner and perform that move. This was a great way to introduce the style to them and they picked these movements up so quickly I was very impressed!

We then came to the centre and worked on the moves a bit more thoroughly, repeating move after move and then finishing with a simple Charleston. I started saying ‘step forward, step back’ and by the end of the 6 weeks they were all saying it too!

For the next few weeks I wanted them to create a ‘Speakeasy’ as their starter so, they would come into the classroom and, as quickly as they could, get into the position to hold it. We have the band, performers, audience and bar workers. They all created their own position, but it worked so well when you put it altogether. I couldn’t believe how well they remembered it the first week and by week 6 they managed to do this in just 15 seconds! I think that’s the best yet!

We then started our routine, which included all of the other steps as well as some partner work. It was great to see the development over the weeks, of how well they could remember the dance, as well as all of the moves. By the end they were facing their partners and going back and forth doing the Charleston. Definitely a proud teacher moment right there!

To finish the dance I had them get into smaller groups and put their own ‘mini’ dance together. However, the class did this so quickly, I had to give them a range of developments on the spot! Firstly, I asked them to create different patterns and positions to dance in. Some used triangles, others used lines and swapped through each other too. I then gave them the idea of using different levels, we had groups holding hands and turning on the floor! It opened up my imagination seeing all these wonderful moves.

By week 6 the class were complete professionals. I split them in half so we could do a show. It was lovely to see the support for one another and I really enjoyed seeing the outcome. They  were all so focused and worked so hard that I gave everyone a sticker at the end!

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Enhance Project Report

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The full Enhance Project Report is ready to read! 

The Enhance Project was undertaken as a way to find out what it is that Active Armchairs does for participants, but it became much more than that. 

“When I was developing Active Armchairs, a gentleman in the session, told me that, before doing the classes, he couldn’t brush his hair. He proudly stated that now he could. From this day I wanted to find out what it is that dance can do for it’s participants. Almost 10 years later, it’s finally time to scientifically prove what it is that our classes do for the dancers, and that is why we want to hold a research project.” Rebecca Ashton, Director at The Right Step Dance Company.

The Enhance Project Report explains what Active Armchairs is, including a quick history, outlines what was included in the project and explains the results. University of Kent PhD Student, Ian Farr’s short report is also included. This is a short version of the full report that will be written for his PhD. 

“The current study shows an increase in physical activity and associated benefits to physical and mental health when care home residents take part in Active Armchairs dance workshops.” Ian Farr, PhD Student, University of Kent.

If you would like a copy of the report please email us or read below. 

For more information about Active Armchairs please click HERE.

For more blog posts about the Enhance Project, please click HERE.

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December Shows

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This year there have been lots of festive performances and the TRS Teachers wanted to share the fun with you. Even if there wasn’t a show to friends and family, there will have been performances to peers within dance club. We love a show and a performance opportunity is essential to a dance class. So congratulations to every participant in our lessons who has performed this term. I know of at least 10 schools so far. Here are some words from the TRS Teachers and I about just a few. 

Palace Wood Primary School

Rebecca – I’ve been working with KS2 Creative Dance Club at Palace Wood Primary School since September. The theme has been The Lion King and we’ve looked at ideas from the films and the stage musical. By the show we had three pieces of music put together to make quite a lengthy dance. We even added Rocking Around The Christmas to the end and gave it a festive finish! 

We began with Timon and Puma. It was September so we explored friendships and greetings. The dancers, in pairs, used movements I choreographed for warm up as well as some of their own. Alongside this the group choreographed a dance altogether. They danced with feathers and movements were inspired by Zazu, a bird. Later in the term I showed the dancers a short video about how the dancers in the musical move like lions. They worked in groups, their prides, and choreographed dances as lions. Then, in the last ten minutes of the week before the show, we very quickly threw some moves together and danced to Rocking Around The Christmas Tree. By this point they were excellent at choreography and thought of some brilliant movements very quickly.

They were so fantastic in performance. Very professional, they concentrated, counted and smiled. The audience were really impressed and we were all very proud. Well done KS2!

Here’s a little clip of photos and videos from the final rehearsal and performance.

St William of Perth Primary School

Jess – The 19 performers at St William Of Perth performed their two dances in front of their school in an early morning assembly. For most of the group it was the first time they’ve performed, with more never having danced before. It was a very nerve racking experience but each dancer performed amazingly.

At the start of this term we were working on Rainforest animals, from tree frogs and snakes to tigers and sloths. We spent time learning how each animal moves and learning from each other, picking up ideas and exploring new movements. The class were separated into two groups who were given a small number of animals to explore the movements with. This allowed each dancer to work on their creativity, learn from their peers and gather new ideas.

A week before the performance we started a new winter theme, our song was “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let us snow!”. The dancers created the whole dance by listening to the lyrics and finding movements to suit. This allowed the dancers who were usually shy to have a big input, feel a sense of accomplishment and own part of the dance that was being performed by everyone. It was during this week, the dancers expressed an interest in performing their routines.

Performance week arrived. As the news of the performance was delivered, a sense of nervousness overcame a lot of the younger dancers, however with the encourage and support of the older dancers, everyone pulled through and performed together.

I am so proud of every single one of those dancers who overcame their nerves to perform two dance routines to their peers and class friends. Everyone did brilliantly. Well done.

Byron Primary School

Steph has been working at Byron Primary for many years now. Their club isn’t at a time that is good to invite friends and family in so they can be an audience, but this didn’t stop them! They did a video show and here is the fantastic result!

So a big well done to everyone, you were fantastic! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Six Weeks at Greenfields

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This year we were invited back to Greenfields Community Primary School for their dance sessions. Georgie and Lou went along to work with every pupil for six weeks and the dances will be taken to competitions by the pupils who want to take dance from curricular to extra curricular. The choreography is excellent and we can’t wait to see where the pupils take it!

Written by Georgie…

This year I was really grateful to have the opportunity to go back to teach at Greenfields. They were amazing last year and I couldn’t wait to see what this year would bring. I not only had the joy of teaching years 5&6 again, but I also got to teach years 3&4 too!

I was really excited for my themes again this year, I did ‘Space Jam’ with years 3&4 and ‘Superheroes’ with years 5&6. Both sets of participants got really excited and into the theme which was great!

With ‘Space Jam’ I first got them into groups and asked them to create giant alien shapes in their groups. We had so much fun coming up with ideas, like antenna, how many legs, and of course alien faces! The dance started off with the music ‘Men in Black’ by Will Smith, so the dancers were acting really cool and slick like they were protectors of humans in case of aliens. One movement I put in the dance, as the music transitioned, was the break dance move, the helicopter (some call it coffee grinder), which can be quite a tricky move, but the students picked it up so quickly! I was really impressed. Then the music picked up as we went into ‘Space Jam’ and we had some really upbeat movements as we partied with some aliens!  Again, with some complex moves in there, but they all got it by the end and it was great to see their faces once they had got the moves. The music then reverted back to the Men in Black and they became cool and collected ready for the finish. They all did so well to learn a 3 and a half minute dance in just 6 weeks. I loved their enthusiasm and they came in each week really eager and excited which made it even better for me as a teacher. I really hope they do well in the competitions as they worked so hard and it looks fantastic!

I taught most of years 5&6 last year and it was so nice when they came running in saying ‘Yay!’ and ‘I hoped it would be you again!’ with some even saying they still remember the dance from last year (definitely a proud teacher moment!). When I told them their theme, Superheroes, they were even more excited! Last year I remembered them being so talented and definitely up for a challenge, so I went even further this year.

Again, I split them into their house groups and based the Superheroes on their house colours. So we had reds as Iron Man, yellows were Wolverine, greens were the Hulk and blues were Spiderman! Their dance was a mash up of songs, so it was also a mix of dance styles. We had street, contemporary, lyrical and jazz. We used the avengers theme throughout the dance and then filled it in with; Snap – I’ve got the power, Kanye West – Stronger, Alesso – Heroes and Little Mix – Power.

I didn’t tell them the songs, so when we got to that part of the dance it was a surprise for them and they really enjoyed that. Each week they came back even better than the week before. I even managed to put it a lift. I was so impressed by their behavior with such a risky task. Each class all worked so hard, and I was so impressed with how quickly they picked up the moves. By the end the dance looked like it was being performed by professionals! They were all getting really into character and really performing. It was a bittersweet end for this year group as a lot of them realised they wouldn’t be there if I came back again next year. So the year 6’s all came up and gave me a hug. I wished them all them best, and told them all to continue dancing as they were all so amazing!

Lastly I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Greenfields and especially Wendy Ball for allowing me to come in and teach these wonderful students. It’s a great build up to Christmas and I wish them all the best and good luck in their competitions!

 

Written by Lou…

This term was our 6 weeks of dancing at Greenfields primary school. Working with years 1&2, I choreographed a dance with the theme of power and strength to the song Roar by Katy Perry.

Throughout the 6 weeks we explored the idea of confidence and independence. This was achieved through the warm up where the children would improvise dance moves to travel across the space by themselves. As the weeks progressed the dancers had become more confident in traveling across the space.

We also explored working in teams on different themes of Hero, Bees and Butterfly; allowing the groups to work as a team to create a short motif. I rotated the creative task so everyone could explore each theme, it was inspiring to see how each group interpreted the themes. Also, I taught the choreography week by week, introducing new sections each time.

Using the lyrics from the song I created movement that used different levels and showed the idea of being pushed down and jumping back up. In the second week we explored formations of two teams facing each other, repeating parts the chorus in a questions and answer structure, like a dance off. In the third and fourth week we worked on changing of directions and spacing. This was allowing them to work harder on their coordination and special awareness by creating different facing and altering the choreographer.

In the final weeks we worked on refining and performing the dance. All he classes remembered and put their all into the choreography. They all had so much enthusiasm and energy throughout the whole six weeks.

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Welly Walk, Welly Dance

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Children love a welly walk. They love to be outside and they love to explore. Why not bring the welly walk into the dance class and extend the fun! Some things to try for schools, pre-schools, nurseries and when at home.

What is a Welly Walk?

A welly walk is basically that, a walk in wellies. Along the walk the children are encouraged to collect things they see. At this time of year that could be leaves, acorns, chestnut cases and other things that have fallen from trees. It often involves some puddle jumping and could include some leaf kicking.

 

Into Dance…

There are lots of opportunities for movement play whilst on the welly walk, but I’ve put together some ideas for in a dance class, continuing the fun and extending the learning. These things can be done with parents at home or with teachers at school.

Collections

Collect things from the welly walk and bring them into the dance class as inspiration or props. A leaf is great for a cool down. Ask children to sit or lay down comfortably, leaf in hand. With calming music on, they can copy you or interpret your direction in their way. You could begin with stroking the arms, don’t forget the elbows. You could do a tickley arm pit or chin. You can twirl the leaf between the fingers. It can be balanced on different body parts. There are lots of things that can be done during cool down.

Link to English

Use the welly walk to encourage the use of different types of descriptive words (float, swish, splash, slide) then choreograph a dance using the words. This is an easy way to help children be more creative with the types of movements they do. For example, if you ask a child to pretend to be a falling leaf it’s likely that they will reach up and then wiggle down to the ground. If you ask them whilst also reminding them of some of the words they’ve thought of, their movements will be very different. They might begin high up, swaying, twitchy, swoop and then get lower as they float, twist, fly and land softly. If you don’t have real leaves, conkers and twigs etc. for this you can get craft leaves that work well throughout the year!

Roots Game

Whilst on a welly walk, roots are great for inspiring movement, especially big gnarly ones that stick up out of the ground. When back inside you can play the roots game and remember what you did. Set up some bases around the space and at each base the task is different. Tasks could be root jumping (like a ski jump over something), root balancing (find something to balance on in a certain position or balance whilst walking along it), root hopping (a row of roots that need to be hopped or hurdled over) etc. This is circuits for dance and with a theme!

Gumboot Dance

Quite a specialist area, we have dance teachers who are trained to deliver authentic classes, but you could take some aspects of this African dance style into the dance class. Put wellies on and dance in them. Use the wellies to inspire stamping, clapping and welly slapping rhythms!

Acorn, leaf, muddy puddle game.

Get some pictures of these things and/or use your voice to announce each thing. Start slowly. Ask the children to improvise around each item, use descriptive words. See my blog about improvisation for more about this. Once they have some movement material for each one, speed up your announcements. A slow breeze to start with then speeding up so they are moving between each one quickly, switching movements fast and getting excited as they go. This idea could be used as a warm up or for a game anytime in the lesson.

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Dance Ideas for PSHE

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As a subject, the content, aims and reasons for PSHE change often. It has changed names multiple times since I was at school and most schools have different approaches to it. However, at it’s core, PSHE in primary schools, generally always covers similar values and subjects.  

PSHE stands for Personal, Social and Health Education. Sometimes it is taught to a whole class in a normal setting or in circle time, sometimes it is taught it small groups. It is also taught all of the time in terms of personal development, values and general knowledge. This means it is an excellent subject for a cross-curricular dance class. Dance also teaches many of the life skills found in PSHE without the teacher having to focus on a particular aspect. For example, team work and friendships are seen in all dance classes.

In this blog I’m going to share a few dance ideas for just a few of the subjects covered by PSHE. These could be put towards a dance class or used as stand alone fun.

Friendship

Dance About You – Put children into partners. Start with someone they know well, you can repeat the task with someone they don’t know at another time. Put a short piece of music on (about 2 minutes, Come on Everybody or Blue Suede Shoes are good) and let the children ask each other questions until they find out a new thing (3 things if able) about each other. Now they work alone for a few minutes to make up a movement or sequence about the new fact(s) they’ve learnt. Share the moves with partners and then the whole class. All the movements or sequences could be strung together and performed by the whole class as a team and this would be nice at the start of the year with a new class or if more togetherness or team building is needed within a class.

Teamwork

The Spider Web – Everyone holds onto the giant elastic in a circle. Teacher says a name and that person moves across the circle. This repeats with dancers going over and under the elastic in different ways until it is a big web. Now they have to undo the web! This is a dance class though so everything needs to be done with an interesting way of moving.

The Mexican Wave – you don’t just have to do this the traditional way, other movements can be performed in a similar way and in dance we call this is cannon.

Country Dancing – As a whole dance style, country dancing is great for teamwork. A do-si-do (moving back to back around your partner) is a well known example. A Grand Chain (Holding hands) or Weave The Ring (Not holding hands) are excellent whole class team work based country dance elements that could be used in a dance or as an exercise. All stand in a circle face your partner next to you, holding right hand. Move past your partner and towards the next person and hold left hands. Keep passing holding right then left hands as you go.

Trust

There are a lot of dance and drama trust exercises such as trust falls and trust walks and they are well documented. The following idea is just for dance though and it is also great for teamwork.

Trust Motif Development – teach a simple motif or allow the dancers to choreograph one. It must all be standing up. Once they’ve learnt the motif they have to partner up and choose a prop. Things that work well are solid, about half a metre in length and are not heavy. For example, scarves or giant pipe cleaners. To simplify, the teacher can give everyone the same prop. The partners hold the prop between them and have to perform the motif again, but with the prop connecting them. The motif might develop in various ways, it might be slowed down or one person might use the opposite side of the body, for example. To make things more exciting, the partners could unknowingly choose how to hold the prop. They choose from the options hand or foot, face front or face back and right or left. Then, once the teacher has explained, they hold the prop between them. For example, hand, facing each other, left hands.

Confidence and Honesty

Telling the truth is often about having self confidence and that’s why I’ve put these two together. It’s also about how truth and lies feel to other people. It is quite a concept to grasp and from around Year 2 as it becomes more complicated than just, telling the truth is the right thing to do. You could use a story to support learning around telling the truth and use a cross-curricular approach in the dance class. The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig or, of course, the very famous, Pinnochio might be helpful

Peer feedback is good way to encourage positive, helpful, constructive truth telling. Ask for Nice and Helpful feedback, You did this and now you could try…

To encourage confidence in dance class I try to find an opportunity for every young dance to do a movement or shape on their own near the start of class. This could be during the register or part of name and shape. It’s important thay there is a ‘way out’ if they don’t know what to do. This could be by copying someone else’s idea or the teacher using whatever position they’re standing in as their shape or a move such as a shoulder shrug or head shake if they have indicated they don’t know what to do in this way. Either way, they have taken part and got through it.

Respect and Anti Bullying

Your Daily Dance has lists of music by theme, including one for songs about bullying. Appropriate versions would need to be sought for many of the song, but the list is a very useful starting point.  https://www.yourdailydance.com/songs-about-bullying/

Greetings Warm Up with a difference – Everyone walks around the space and, when teacher calls a number or colour, or holds up a sign or makes an instrument noise (there are lots of options!), they perform an action. Here are some examples.

– High five the nearest person
– Hand shake with the nearest person
– Fold arms and stop in front of the nearest person then turn away
– Stand in front of the nearest person with your arms and legs out stretched (open and vulnerable)
– Loop arms, link together

Afterwards, talk about how the actions made you feel. Progress this further in other lessons by asking the dancers for their own ideas, perhaps focusing on things that make them happy or things they think will make others happy.

 

I’ve just scratched the surface of how dance and pshe go hand in hand. Other aspects such as Golden Rules, worry and internet safety could all be explored using a cross-curricular approach and the things I have covered could be part of a lesson or scheme of work. As always with our work in Educating Dance, the options are endless!

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Dance Ideas for New Friends

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This month we’re focusing on friendship, new things and social inclusion so I had a conversation with the TRS Teachers about their ideas. Dance is a fantastic medium for making friends and learning about social interactions. 

It’s September and the schools are back, the children in our classes are meeting new people in their new classes and it’s a new school year, but we’ve talked about all classes for this blog, including Active Armchairs, because the social aspects of dance are present everywhere!

The TRS Teachers have shared lots of ideas for dancing around these themes below. I’ll also be writing a blog post about PSHE towards the end of the month and this will relate as well.
 

Meet and Greet Ideas…

Rebecca
Name and shape is a fantastic introduction game. It’s an old favourite that I first played when volunteering at Magpie Dance Company ten years ago! It works with any age, any ability and pretty much any theme! Its great for us dance teachers to learn names and to give all participants a chance to be in the spotlight if they want to.
 

How to play:
Everyone stands in a circle. Teacher explains that we are going to take it in turns to say our name and make a shape or do a little movement. Then everyone will copy the shape or movement and say the name back. As you go around each person can pass the turn onto the next person by gesturing that it is their go.
 
 
Georgia
“I like doing ‘Meet and Move’ we have selected movements and then travel around the space, when the teach shouts meet you find a friend (A different partner each time) and do the movement together and then continue. I have done this as part of a warm up where when we meet we circle a different body part starting from our head and then working towards our toes! By the end you will have danced with around 6 different people! for younger ones to make this clearer it can be when the music stops that you ‘meet’ with a friend to do the moments.”
 

Social Inclusion, how we can encourage it…

Steph
“I’ve been using the theme of holidays recently in Active Armchairs which has lead to some brilliant conversations and connections between participants. We have been sharing memories of places we have lived or visited, which has connected many people in conversation as they had visited the same place! It’s so interesting to hear how people have moved around in their lives, and lead to lots of revelations between the participants as they released that perhaps they might have even crossed paths before!”
 
Rebecca
Props are a brilliant way to include everyone in a session. I had a magic moment in Active Armchairs at Valley View Nursing Home and always share it with trainee facilitators…
 

“One lady has her table that when chooses to always sit at. The layout of the home means that she’s close enough to the seating area to see the tv and be involved with my sessions, but she is still comfortable at her table. She always sings and joins in with arms movements even though she isn’t in the circle. This is nice, but I thought she might enjoy it more and feel included if she joined our circle so I thought of some ideas. The prop that worked best was the giant elastic. I had excellent support from Dee the Activities Co-ordinator so we were able to work together. I laid the elastic out before the start and went to chat to the participant. I explain what we were going to do and asked if she would like to join us. Luckily she did and Dee helped move her to the main circle. It was a fantastic class and a real turning point.”
 

Jess

Parachutes are such a sociable prop. Call a colour and the participant runs underneath and swops places with someone else. Yoy could adapt to include a high five under the parachute.
 
Our ideas for the best props for social inclusion…
Giant elastic
Huge piece of lycra
Big balloons or beach balls
Knotted scarves
Feathers used for mirroring
Shakers for call and response
Parachute
 

Exploring Friendship…

Becca T
A nice dance idea is people bring an item to share or the teacher brings a small selection. E.g stone, feather, cube. The dancers explore the texture/shape/pathway/feeling of the item to make their own phrase. Progress: partner up and combine 2 items. Suitable for all ages and abilities.
 
Steph
I covered the theme of Friendship last term in schools. We discussed what we felt made a good friend, and then used those ideas to create movements. We made sure we danced with people in class that perhaps we didn’t know very well or were in different year groups and kept swapping partners throughout the dance. There were lots of brilliant buzz words like ‘supportive’ and ‘caring’ which lead to some lovely trust and support movements. Then together we put all of this together into a dance to ‘You’ve got a friend in me’ from Toy Story.
 

 

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