Being a dance instructor in the spring of 2020 has been a challenge. So much has changed and I hope many of you are doing well and able to cope during this time. Many teachers are turning to teaching online. After navigating this new way of teaching I feel I am getting more used to it and I hope you are too! I feel fortunate that I am finding new ideas for my classes to keep things interesting for my students!
Teaching a warm up or a dance is not that much of a change. We can either face our students or face away and show steps and give tips just like in person. However in both my theater and dance classes, teaching creative movement or other types of games took a bit more thinking. In creative games we can move around with each other more and explore. We can hold hands or share a parachute. Now what?
Traditional creative movement games that I have used throughout the years still work well online. There are many versions of the “Freeze Dance” out there. Games where the students pretend to be animals are always a favorite. There are games where the students can balance bean bags or small stuffed animals on different parts of their bodies. There are actually many possibilities.
If you are looking for some new ideas here are a couple games that I like to play with my students that work both in the studio and online.
The Princess or Prince and the Wolf
This is a game that I like to play with my ballet classes that are ages 6-9. I’m sure it would also work for jazz or tap classes if you need some creativity. There will need to be a bit more imagination needed to play this online but that is definitely doable.
Choose one student to be the wolf and one student to be the princess or prince. All the other students pick any animal they want to be. I then tell everyone that their character must find a specific ballet step to show how their character moves. They can’t walk or run around. This is like a real ballet! Horses can prance or chassé. Birds can leap. Rabbits can sauté etc.
Next the wolf needs to find a space in their room that will be their cave and hides. Everyone else pretends they are having a dance party in the forest. Play some fun music and narrate the story:
“Once upon a time there lived a princess who loved to dance in the forest with her animal friends. They would have many dance parties that would last well into the night. Finally once they were all tired out they would fall asleep in the woods.
On this particular night they didn’t know a wolf was nearby. The wolf put a spell on the princess and she followed the wolf to his/her cave.
The next morning the animals woke up and they all started another dance party. While they were dancing they looked around and noticed the princess was missing! They searched everywhere but she was nowhere to be found. They realized she must be with the wolf.
Each animal tried to go to the wolf’s cave to rescue the princess.” Call out each student one at a time to go to the wolf’s cave to try to rescue the princess. “However the wolf was too scary!” Have the wolf growl or show scary claws to each student. “Finally the animals realized that if they go to the cave together maybe they will be able to scare the wolf away.” Have all the students pretend to go to the cave. “The wolf was so scared he/she ran away. The princess was saved! The animals saw the wolf all alone and realized that he/she was just lonely. They told the wolf that if he/she could be nice they could all be friends! The wolf agreed! They all continued their dance party with everyone in the forest! The end!”
Choose a new student to be the prince or princess and wolf the next time.
The Fairytale Game
This game I love to use with my preschool ballet classes. I have tried many different versions but they all have the same elements. The complete game that I use in my classes with all my props is listed in my ebook Creative Movement for Preschool Ballet: Incorporating Props which is on Amazon.
Lately I have been using Rapunzel as the main character in this story for my online classes. We pretend that we are Rapunzel in her tower. Have the students hide a stuffed animal somewhere in their room that they can pretend is Pascal. Have the students act out the story with you. The story goes like this:
“Once upon a time there lived a girl named Rapunzel. She lived in a tall tower with her friend, Pascal. Once morning Rapunzel woke up, brushed her long hair, got dressed, brushed her teeth and ate some breakfast.
She then wanted to play with her good friend Pascal. She looked all over for her friend in the tower but couldn’t find him anywhere!
Suddenly she saw magic sparkles flying all over the room.” Act out the sparkles flying around. “They started to fly around faster and faster! Rapunzel then heard a voice. It said, Pascal is under a magic spell. He needs your help to break the spell! Will you help him? Of course Rapunzel agreed to help.
The voice said, First you need to do three pliés, next do 2 tendus, now let’s do 4 sauté jumps and finally 1 arabesque.
Then the magic sparkles moved around the room faster and faster once more until they finally disappeared.
Rapunzel raced around the tower again to find Pascal. Finally she found him safe and sound. She hugged him close and danced around with him so happy to have found her friend.”
Depending on how much time I have in class I will add to or simplify these stories. Just put on your favorite classical music from a ballet or disney movie and have fun!
It is possible to teach creative movement games with your online classes. Some things may need to be altered or we may need to use a bit more imagination but we can definitely still play and have a great time! It is so important that children have the opportunity to play especially in a time where friends and playgrounds have to stay away. It is great that dancers still have their amazing teachers to play with online!