Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dancing in Tight Spaces

When I was student teaching in the Bronx, I had almost 30 children in a small classroom.  I remember standing on a chair in front of the class to teach dance and I had the children copy my movements.  I did not know what else to do.  I did not want anyone getting hurt by moving in a such a crowded room and since I am a little over 5 feet, I wanted everyone to see me as well. 

I know that crowded classrooms/studios/spaces can be quite a challenge.  Here are some ideas to help manage space issues.

Dancing in tight spaces:
  1. Go outside.  Make your own boundaries with cones so the dance space is clear.  You can make the space as big or as small as you want!
  2. Dance in groups.  Switch off doing the activity.  One group watches and one group moves.  Make sure the group that is watching has an assignment.  (Watch for 3 traveling steps, look for level changes, etc. so the kids are still active participants.)
  3. Create one big circle.  Have the kids sit in a circle and call various children to come in and out of the circle. 
  4. Line the children in rows of 4 or 5 and have the children practice their gross motor skills traveling through the space a few at a time.  Have the kids "tag" the next group to go.
  5. Practice, practice, practice moving together.  First walk through the space.  Move close to each other without touching.  Move as far away from each other without touching.  Try it in different levels and ways of locomoting.  The more you practice the easier it will get.
  6. Use painter's tape to make lines, curves and angles on the floor.  Have the children dance on the shapes.  Have the groups shift from one shape to the next.
  7. Create a dance where the kids don't leave their spots.  This can be a great exploration of the space directly around them.  Then have some kids dance through the space while others continue to dance in their spots.  Take turns.
  8. Make a chair dance.  How many ways can you move while seated in a chair? Can you use your legs, elbows, heads, knees, feet, backs, arms, etc.? 
  9. Use all of the above to vary the use of space in the room.
As a new teacher, I was so nervous about the kids getting wild and bumping into each other but we never practiced how to move safely together.  You will be amazed how the kids will become very aware of their boundaries.  Exploring your space and movement possibilities will lead to new dance experiences for you and your students/kids.  Moms - I know it is really hard to move around in a tight living room as well.  These ideas are for you too!

Have fun exploring tight spaces with the children in your life!


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