Structuring Your Preschool Dance Class

“Come on in and find a spot!”

That’s what you will hear at the top of my class.

Do my students run in circles? Nope. Hang on the bares? Nope. Scream and make funny faces in the mirror? Nope. Throw spots? Nope. They find a spot in the circle.

My young students know exactly what to do when they enter my room. Do yours? If not, a “Do Now” assignment (come in and sit down on a spot) may change your teaching.

Your students need to know what is expected of them, no exceptions. A class structure is how you let them know.

An empty dance studio with little movers waiting at the door

Creating The Structure

First, assess the space.

How can you configure the space so you are using all of it but not moving around too much? It’s a fine balance.

For me, I teach in many different spaces in a week, so each space has it’s own spacial configuration, but my structure remains the same. Each class has a clear beginning, a middle, and an end.

Maria’s structure: [Read more…]

This Is Why I Bother

Melanie Doskocil’s final entry for Ballet’s Un-X-pected Lesson Files this year. Enjoy!

I looked over the group of 5 and 6-year-old budding ballet students.

The girls were all clad in their little yellow and black stripped leotards, little yellow and black tutus, wings, head pieces with cute bouncy antennae. The boys in their striking bug costumes with jet black bodies and iridescent green wings.

I had a can of good old Super Final Net in my hands and wandered amongst them, spraying a wisp of hair here, a clump of bangs there. I checked ears and wrists and fingers for forgotten jewelry, tucked loose draw strings into leather ballet slippers, clipped threads and checked hands for no-no nail polish and pesky pen doodles.

IMAGE Excited little bumble bees IMAGEAs I was grabbing a few bobby pins to tackle a loose bun, one of the guest chaperones whispered loudly to another,

“I don’t know why she bothers; they are only on the stage for about a minute.”

I turned to the kids and said, “OK, Bees and Bugs, are you ready to go dance with your Flower in the Nutcracker?”

One tiny ballerina said to me, “I feel like a fairy princess!”

Then I turned to the parent and said, “THAT’s why I bother.”

Many families are inducted into the ritual of ballet performance during The Nutcracker.

There are strange rules to follow [Read more…]

Exploration ➙ Structure ➙ Choreography: Helping Students Make Their Own Dances

Reader Question:

I am going to be teaching a creative dance and choreography class for ages 7-9. I am looking for some resources to assist in helping the students create their own dances. Would you please recommend some?

Here are a few books/manuals for ideas:

Choreography - A Basic Approach using Improvisation by Sandra Cerny MintonChoreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation (Minton)

This provides exercises and ideas, as well as some performance forms and choreography assessment sheets.

Dance Improvisations (Morgenroth)

Offers a volume of improv structures that could certainly be developed into choreography.

The Art of Making Dances (Doris Humphrey)

The essentials of composition and in tune with creative dance principles & elements (space, time, energy manipulation).

The material in the above might be advanced for that age group but could give you, the teacher, ideas for how to focus their creative dance work toward composition.

Creative Dance for All Ages: A Conceptual Approach (Gilbert)

This manual can help you adapt material from the above to the right level for your kids. In addition, many of the exercises are specifically designed for creating beginning-level compositions and many more can be adapted for this purpose.

I own all of the above books. Here are some others that may be useful:

Exploration ➙ Structure ➙ Choreography

Any exploration you’d use for creative dance class can be turned into choreography. [Read more…]