In the midst of competition season and as the push toward recital time begins, you may be feeling your classes could use a bit of fun to break up the “blahs.”
March offers some opportunities to try something a little different. Here are some ideas:
A Night at the Oscars
Sometimes new accompaniment is all that is needed. Use movie soundtracks and classic cinema songs to spice up your classes one evening this month.
For fun, you might host an awards ceremony during the last 15 minutes of class – this could be your own version of “paper bag” awards… the presentation of silly or gently teasing award categories with low-budget trophies (like paper bags). The point is not to hurt anyone’s feelings, though, so create your awards with care. Encourage your students to dance their acceptance speech, and be sure to cut them off before they are finished! 🙂
St. Patrick’s Day
Why not try some Irish dancing? You can find an introduction to the basics at E-how. Or, better still, hire an Irish dance teacher to conduct a class.
World Meteorological Day
This March 23 day of recognition is spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization. You can do a lot with a weather theme, including everything from song choices (Singin’ in the Rain, It’s Raining Men, Here Comes the Sun…) to dancing about weather, water cycles, and more.
I own and have used these two books by Thomas Locker with dance classes to build choreography as a group. They feature poetic reenactments of the water cycle (Water Dance) and an introduction to cloud-types (Cloud Dance) accompanied by beautiful illustrations. With clouds that march, drift, and burst, and statements like “I grow ever wider, broader and deeper. I am the river.” The descriptive language lends itself to movement.
You may also want to check out this Weather & Wind Dance lesson plan (click Instruction Tab) from the Kennedy Center’s Arts Edge website.
Women’s History Month
March is also Women’s History Month so this is a great opportunity to educate your students with a little history lesson. Introduce through books, film, photos, or words, dance visionaries and groundbreakers like Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, Martha Graham, Maria Tallchief, Anna Pavlova, Janet Collins, Eleanor Powell… and so so so many others! In my post 9 Biographies for Students, some of these women are covered in books for juvenile readers.
Print or photocopy photos of a few legendary women in dance to informally post on the walls of your studio with small index cards highlighting their life and contribution to dance. Allow students to peruse the gallery and encourage them to practice spotting pirouettes with Pavlova’s picture or chassé toward Eleanor Powell. At the end of the class, week, or month quiz your dancers on these dance luminaries.
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.