My classes always start with a group stretch, usually done in a circle so all of the dancers can interact with their peers. While we are stretching all of the main muscle groups in the lower extremities, trunk, upper extremities and neck, we are catching up on the events of the week. I really like this time to be used for dancer socialization. I also include teaching the difference between good posture and bad posture, abdominal crunches and lumbar press ups to promotes a healthy spine. Our stretch is usually done to slower, softer music that is just loud enough to be background noise.
After we stretch, I like to get the music pumping as well as the blood flow of my dancers and volunteers. I usually do this with ball bouncing, with a prop of some sort; usually pom poms. Some of my favorite songs to bounce to are “I Like to Move it, Move it”, “Shake it Off” and “All About That Bass” (the clean version!!). We will bounce our little hearts out and do teacher led movements with the props for the first half of the song, and then I like to give the opportunity to the dancers to each make up a move. They all seem to love this part!
Next, we learn a skill. I tend to teach “skills” or new steps that I plan to teach within a combination in the following weeks. I’ve recently been teaching a few tap steps to my classes that I plan to put into a combination in the near future. I also like to do across the floor movement with my dancers when learning a new skill, because I feel that movement that utilizes the whole room is very important for body awareness, awareness of the environment, promoting bigger movement as well as helping to prepare dancers for being on stage. These skills are usually done without music at first, and then put to music once the skill is mastered.
After we learn a new skill, I begin to teach, or continue to teach the current combination. We are currently working on a Halloween combination to the song “This is Halloween” from Nightmare Before Christmas. The dancers are really enjoying this and are having so much fun making the scary faces that are needed for this.
To end class, I usually pick a fun and upbeat song for dancers to freestyle to. I feel that freestyle is very important for self expression through movement. I mean, isn’t that the whole reason we dance?? During this time, I try to encourage dancers to try new things, give them some ideas and encourage them to watch their peers and learn from them. I also watch the dancers to get ideas for new moves to add to choreography for combinations and sometimes the recital dance! Some of my favorite songs for this include “Stuck Like Glue,” “Happy,” and “Keep Your Head Up.” Sometimes, I will include props, or do this as a freeze dance or even play four corners.