Caroline Creggan has been a qualified dance teacher for two years and is principal of her own dance school. Caroline Creggan Dance School (C.C.D.S) is based in Northern Ireland. In it’s second year, the school trains students for dance exams in Modern Jazz, Freestyle, and Choreography (in which students recently achieved excellent results) and Caroline says they continue to add subjects to the timetable as well as arrange performances and dance events. “The dance school is growing from strength to strength and it is fantastic to share my knowledge with younger dancers,” says Caroline.
Caroline is also an advocate for continuing dance education and has attended dance teacher training in New York and London. She has been a choreographer for many local theatre groups and teaches a wide variety of age groups from 3 years to adult classes in many different styles and fitness abilities, while also working to develop students’ performance skills in dance and drama within higher education. “I enjoy every aspect of my job,” remarks Caroline, “and my passion for dance is shared with my students who are encouraged to work to the best of their ability and enjoy what they are doing!”
Caroline is sharing with us three activities that she uses regularly in classes for junior dancers to build their confidence and skills. Coincidentally, one of Caroline’s most favorite activities is one I’ve had much success with as well: The Toymaker Dance. You can find my explanation of that one over at Maria’s Movers. Before you go, check out Caroline’s other picks!
1. Props Dance
Who doesn’t love props? In my class, I have a bag with various different props: flags, scarfs, different sizes of material, ribbons, pom poms or anything else that is light, can allow for movement, and is very colourful.
The children split up into two groups, one group is the audience the other group are performers. This encourages the children to watch each other and cheer on the other dancers. The dancers choose a prop they would like to use and stand in a line. As the music starts the children move freely and creatively with their prop. Then, they swap teams and let the other group have a go.
I use a wide variety of music: jazz, ballet, contemporary, pop, country… anything goes. Include a variety of tempos!
This is a fun game for children who are usually learning about fairytales in school. Choose a fairytale – for example, Cinderella. Ask the children to discuss the events and themes of the story. Split the class into groups. One group can be cleaning, the other group can be dancers at the ball, the other group can be getting ready for the ball.
Let the children hear the music first then ask them to think of what actions fit their character and group. As the music starts each group performs their actions.
Then, number each group: 1,2,3. Ask group 1 to start their movements then freeze, adding group 2 then group 3 like a cannon effect. The children can see the beginnings of a performance piece and develop their listening skills as they wait for their part in the music.
When repeated a few times, dancers have the chance to develop new ideas and swap movements. Have a discussion about which was their favorite part of the exercise.
On pieces of colored paper, write down simple dance movements or directions such as hop, make a pose, jump, sway, wiggle, point feet, etc. Movements may be relevant to what is being learned in class. For example, if the children are learning exam steps this is a fun way to practice.
Randomly pick a card and have the children explore the movment. Cards can be used in many ways. Put them together and make a dance!
For accompaniment, Caroline uses items from the International Dance Teacher’s Association (IDTA) shop. Some of her favorites come from “The Festival Collection, as they have a mixture of tempos and rhythms, and the album Showcase, proudced by Surrey Dance Music. She also uses some Disney music. “The kids all love Disney!”
What are YOUR top activities and games for younger age groups?
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.