Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Firework Dance Explosion

Fireworks can be a great inspiration for movement.  Most of us will be able to see and, if not see, hear fireworks this weekend.   For some children this is exciting and for others this can be quite scary.  By exposing kids to a kinesthetic firework activity, it can enhance the experience for some and make fireworks more accessible to others.

Ask kids to show you in their bodies these words:
  • Boom
  • Pop,pop,pop
  • Bang
  • Sizzle
  • Crackle
  • Twinkle
  • Flash
  • Sparkle
  • Quiet, calm, still
Now see if you can pick a few and put it in sequence:
  • Boom, crackle, flash, twinkle, twinkle, Bang
  • Pop,pop,pop, sizzle, sizzle, Bang
  • Flash, Sparkle, Twinkle, Boom
  • Twinkle, crackle, Sizzle, quiet, calm, still
Fireworks sail high into the air, explode reaching out far into the space and then fall to the ground.  Can you create a dance sailing, exploding and then falling?  Can you create a dance reaching high, reaching far and wide and reaching toward the ground?

How can you show color through dance?
Can you dance with multiple scarves?  Does each color represent a different step or movement?

Can you show the difference in your body between the two opposites of fireworks loud  and quiet stillness?  Can you be really still and then explode into movement? 

We learn through experiences.  So by children processing fireworks through their bodies and creating their own fireworks show through dance, can help them process the fireworks when they see, hear and smell it on the 4th of July.

Have fun creating firework dances with the children in your life.  What you create might be far more beautiful then what appears in the night sky!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Water as a Dance Tool

There are some dance concepts that are easier to grasp in summer because you can use sprinklers and pools easily.  Water is a great tool.  I wrote about water in a past post but there is so much more to explore!

High, middle and low level can truly be explored when jumping into a pool.  High level when you jump, your body soaring above the water.  Middle, when you are standing in water, head above, body below.  And low level when you dunk and are submerged.

Tap the water gently. Punch it with great force.  You can clearly see effort and feel it. 
Push the water, pull the water.  You can feel your muscles engage and work hard.  Sometimes it is hard for kids to feel their muscles engage without resistance.  Here is a great opportunity to play with strength.

What if you don't have a pool?  
No problem!  Try this activity with a garden hose:
  1. Put your finger over the spout (or use a spray attachment.)  Have the water spray out gently. 
  2. Have the kids run and jump OVER the water. 
  3. Next, spray the water high over head.  Have the kids run, skip, turn, roll etc. UNDER the water.
  4. Finally, put the spray in middle level and have the kids run THROUGH the water
  5. Talk about the difference between OVER, UNDER and THROUGH and see which they liked the best.
  6. If you are brave have them hold the hose for you and give it a try!!
Explore water this summer with the kids in your life.  Let it cool you down and let it be a teaching tool to delve into the elements of movement.

Have fun getting wet with the children in your life!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dance Your Tush Off

I have been watching a show called Dance Your Tush Off on the Oxygen network.  Ok, it isn't exactly called that. Substitute the word tush for donkey, and, well, you get the idea.  For those of you who have not seen this show let me give you a quick synopsis:

Overweight contestants work with professional dancers to develop routines which they perform at the end of the week in front of a panel of judges.  Their dance scores are added to the amount of weight lost for the week to come up with a final score.  The one with the lowest score each week goes home.  The last one standing at the end of the competition wins. 

What I liked about the show:
  • People are getting into shape, working hard and dancing their hearts out.  The dancers have personality, some technique and are learning ballroom and other various styles.
  • As they get more fit, their bodies take form, the mastery of their bodies improves and they develop a sense of body ownership.
  • The development of body ownership is beautiful, the connection the dancers develop to themselves and their partners is inspiring.
What we can all learn from the show:
  • Dance is not for the elite, the ballet trained or the perfectly fit. It is for everyone.
  • Dance is exercise.  Dance is strength, stretch and endurance.
  • Everyone can do it.  The more you dance the better you get, the more confident you get and the more you can let go of your inhibitions.
  • Dance lets you connect with others.  Hold hands with someone, dance and look into their eyes.  You will see what I mean.
Need a little exercise?  Need a little pick me up?  Need a confidence booster?  Put on your favorite music and dance!  Can't go outside and want the kids to get some exercise - dance.  Want to cheer up a cranky child -dance.  Want to let off stress at the end of a hard day - dance.

And do what they say on the show.  Dance your you know what off!

Have fun dancing your tush off with the children in your life!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dance Spontaneously

Have you ever danced in front of your little ones?  I am not talking about demonstrating a step or the dance they are learning; I am talking about you just breaking into dance spontaneously.   There is something very powerful about teaching the art of self- expression and in order to teach you too must do!

When could you break into spontaneous movement?
  1. Waiting for the CD player to play (my CD player is always very tempermental)
  2. Walking a class in or out of the classroom or studio
  3. While kids are putting on shoes, clothes, etc
  4. Anytime, whenever, any moment will do

What will they learn from watching you break into dance?
  1. Dance is for everyone
  2. Movement is not limited to a certain time, day, or place
  3. You can express your feelings through dance
  4. It gives them permission to do the same
At the end of every class I teach we finish in a circle.  I have each child go into the middle of the circle, one at a time, and share his or her favorite way of moving.  When I teach in the schools I also have the classroom teacher go into the middle of the circle.  The kids love watching their teacher dance.  They clap and giggle.  The kids also make sure that I don't forget to go into the middle as well.  When you ask kids to share, make sure that you don't forget to share as well.  It builds a sense of community, trust and creates a shared experience.

I dance in the kitchen when I cook dinner.  My daughter laughs and will sometimes join in without me asking her to do so.  Just the act of dancing in front of her creates a bonding moment.  A moment where neither of us is asking anything of each other.  We are just sharing an experience together.

So, have fun dancing in front of the little ones in your life! 


Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Do you ever dance with your little ones without shoes and socks?  Let the soles of your feet the prickly grass or feel the plush carpet or smooth hard wood floor? 

And what about those wonderful toes?  As anyone who has ever stubbed a toe knows, toes help you balance, they enable you to spring off the floor when you jump, help you to transfer weight from one foot to the other when you walk as well as raise you up on tip-toe.

When kids dance in shoes they miss the tactile sensations their feet can provide them as well as the opportunity to articulate their feet (especially those wonderful toes!)

So the next time you dance with your little ones, pull off those shoes and socks wiggle those toes and make up a feet dance.  Scrunch those toes, spread them wide, clap them together, walk on your heels, balance on tip toes, and explore those feet and piggies!

Have fun dancing barefoot with the children in your life!