Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Elf: Izzy!

When I read Maria's post asking her readers about their elves, I knew I had to share!

Our studio Elf on the Shelf, Izzy, has made a lot of friends at dance school!

First we got an official letter from Santa telling us why our elf was so special:
Like the Santa stationary?  I got it from here

Then Izzy lit up our dance studio with some lights, which put everyone in a festive mood!
Izzy showed off her split skills at the Split Wall.
She even signed her name!

And then got into the sticker supply....
Christmas colors of course...

And made herself a tutu out of tulle...
Izzy, I don't think that's what the measuring tapes are meant for!
I guess she decided the kids were behaving and decided to watch the parents in the waiting room instead... :)
I don't know what she'll do next!

I enjoy sharing Izzy's adventures on our studio Facebook page and Instagram so everyone can see what she's been up to!

Do you have an Elf at your school or home?  Is he or she mischievous or well-behaved? Share in the comments!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Freeze Dance Fun

Snow dance
The cold weather makes my classes
excited to play "Freeze Dance"!
"Freeze Dance" is the first activity requested whenever we have a special day in class. My students know Freeze Dance as dance around the room and freeze when the music stops.

This past week in my beginning modern/creative movement class, we used our creative minds to come up with some new variations on Freeze Dance to try in class.

Here are some of the ways that we manipulated the game to be our own - hopefully some are new to you or inspire other new variations!

Shape Freeze

We've been using this version in our exploration of shape-making.

While the music is on, the teacher names a shape (circular, square, triangle) and the student must make that shape with a body part when the music stops.

Position Freeze

Similar to the Shape variation described above, but dancers must freeze in the position given - this was fun in ballet and jazz class.  Positions to try:  1st, 2nd and 3rd position, retire, arabesque, tendu, plie, lunge, etc.

This might also be fun to try with a class who is learning room positions and stage directions ("Freeze en face" or "Freeze facing upstage" or "point to corner 2").

'Dance Like This' Freeze

The teacher (or student leader) tells the class how to move during the dance part ("Everyone skip").  After each freeze, the type of dancing changes.  You can also give speed directives, such as "chasse really slowly" or "bouree quickly".

We like to play this in tap class for practice on our traveling steps:  running flaps, flap ball changes, shuffle hop steps, toe heels, etc.

Changing Music

Also know as the iPod Shuffle...!  After each freeze, change the song and dancers must move to the new song.

winter carnival ice scuplture 07
Now these dancers are REALLY frozen!
In creative movement, we played this after a few weeks of learning the concept of listening to the music and interpreting it in our bodies.  It really helped their improvisation skills.

You could also use this in tap or jazz class to work on rhythm and finding the beat in each new song.

Partner Freeze 

Dancers must freeze with a partner when the music stops.

You can give conditions such as "freeze connected to another person", or "Freeze in a group of three".  

I like to mix this one into the other types - "freeze in a round shape with another person", etc.

Beat the "I'm Out" Blues

For my younger classes we don't "get out" in any of the above games - we just play for the fun of it.  For my older students, they really like the games when there is a chance to be eliminated, so we play that way.

Sometimes my classes age 6-8 request to play the "out" version, but some students get very upset from being "out" whenever we play a game like this.

I like to soften the blow by letting them come over to the music player and telling me when to freeze the music next.  Or if they are a particularly enthusiastic class, they can also come up with some new ways to freeze.

What is your favorite movement or dance game to play in class?  Share in the comments!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November Blog Challenge: 10 Things You Are Grateful For

New blog challenge badge for your blog!
Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is November's Blog Challenge.  Talking or writing about things you are grateful for can make you happy, more optimistic and less stressed (I can back that up).

I was inspired by this post by Marie Forleo, who is my business idol / inspiration / mentor!  In this post, Marie talks about gratitude and the positive aftereffects (if you have a chance, check out her video - its worth a watch). Also check out this article by the NY Times about the positive effects of keeping a gratitude journal.

November's Blog Challenge Mission:

Write a list of ten things you are grateful for.

Then let the happy feelings wash over you :)

How to Participate: 

If you have a blog:
1) write a post sharing your ten things, then share or link to your fall post (it doesn't have to be a new post if you've already written something that fits with the theme).

 2) Then make sure you leave a comment with a link to you post so we can all read it!

Don't have a blog? 
No problem!  You can participate by leaving a comment below, tweeting @thedancebuzz or posting to our Facebook wall your list of ten things!

I'm getting my post ready to go and am looking forward to reading all of your thankful things :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

NMM: Where Is My Mind (Pixies Cover) by Maxence Cyrin

Just discovered this haunting piano cover of the Pixies tune "Where Is My Mind" by Maxence Cyrin.

And bonus: at 2 minutes 47 seconds... you don't even have to cut it!

Grab it on iTunes
Where Is My Mind - Novö Piano


Monday, November 5, 2012

NMM: Contemporary Song & Video Playlist

A few new songs that I've been loving in class and some videos to go along with them:

"Great" - Tony Robbins - free download here - this is the song from the Purina dog commercial that might have made you cry.  I think it would make a nice contemporary dance:

Try - P!nk - I didn't know she was such an awesome dancer - check out the video:

And my final song / video combo is: Capital Cities - Safe And Sound - you could use this techno song for warm-ups in jazz or tap, but I just love this fan-made video. Its a mash-up of historical dance moves juxtaposed with war images. I dig the old dance moves against the song:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Blog Challenge: Fall Class Ideas

Happy Fall!

For me, fall means changing leaves, shorter days and Halloween!
Grab this baby for your blog!

What does fall mean to you and your dance classes?

October's Blog Challenge Mission: 

Last month's challenge was to share an inspiring video.

For October, your mission is to share an idea for a fall dance class.   

It can be about leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, apples - your choice!  If you're a student, tell us how or if your studio has any fall traditions that you enjoy.  If you're a teacher - how do you incorporate the changing season into your classes?

How to Participate: 

1) If you have a blog, share or link to your fall post (it doesn't have to be a new post, since I'm a little late in getting the challenge up this month).

2) Then make sure you leave a comment with a link to you post so we can all read it!

Don't have a blog? No problem! You can participate by leaving a comment below, tweeting @thedancebuzz or posting to our Facebook wall with your Fall dance class idea!

Can't wait to see all the good fall traditions :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dance Deals: Wooden Nutcracker Ornament

Spotted this deal and wanted to share (full disclosure: I'm not getting paid for this, just sharing the good deal!):
Cute little wooden Nutcrackers!

DollarTree - Nutcracker Ornaments, 2 for $1

You have to buy a case of 48 units (so 96 ornaments), but if anyone has lots of little ones, might make a good gift for a good price!

They are 5" tall, which is a pretty decent size.


In other news, yuck, I can't believe I posted about Christmas ornaments in October.  Shame on me!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Eric Hutchinson - The Basement

Obsessed with this song and there's a pretty great video that goes with it.

Happy Weekend!

Grab it on iTunes: The Basement by Eric Hutchinson The Basement - Moving Up Living Down

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pumpkin Creative Movement

PumpkinsI read Maria's great pumpkin patch creative movement idea and was inspired to try it in my classes this past week!  And check out this post at Maria's Movers for even more ideas.

I teach two ages of creative movement - 4's & 5's and an older group of pre-modern students (ages 8-11).  Both loved the new activity!

The 4's & 5's

Growing Pumpkins

First we had a quick discussion about pumpkins:

  • What shape and color are they? 
  • Where do they come from?
  • How they grow?
  • Can we eat them?  
  • What's inside a pumpkin?
We planted ourselves in the room and grew very, very slowly.  My assistants pretended to be farmers and people going pumpkin-picking and they inspected each pumpkin.

Our pumpkins rolled around the room for a bit and then we started over.  This time, the pumpkins were painted with happy, silly or scary faces.  They had fun making faces while they were pumpkins.

A Sea of Pumpkins...


Next we changed roles and went pumpkin picking.  My studio is in a suburban area surrounded by farms, so many of the students were familiar with the idea of pumpkin picking. Our movements:
  • Tip toe through the rows
  • Jumping over pumpkins
  • We picked out our favorite pumpkins and brought them to the middle of the room to make a pumpkin pile
  • We repeated to find the heaviest, the tiniest, the fattest and the roundest pumpkins and carried, lifted, rolled, and pushed them into our pile
I also asked them what else they might see in a pumpkin patch and we saw:
  • Crows that flew, perched and caw'ed
  • Grass and corn that stood tall and waved in the wind
  • Creepy crawly bugs and worms
  • Scarecrows that stood very still and had stiff arms and legs
  • hayride that we all got on together and rode around the room to finish our exercise!
Pumpkin Carving Party

Ages 8-11: Beginning Modern / Creative Movement

I used these exercises as a warm-up.  It was a nice change for them and they seemed to enjoy it:

Growing Pumpkins

Surprisingly enough, we started the same way, but with less instruction.
  • Slow growing from a seed to long twisty and stretch vines that covered the floor (focus on moving slowly and stretching our bodies)
  • Growing big leaves and even a few flowers (continue stretching)
  • Growing a pumpkin (making a round shape)
  • Rolling around as a pumpkin1
  • Being carved to have a funny, silly, happy or scary face (some used just their faces, others used their whole body)
  • Being left out on the porch too long and rotting!
1 We have been learning rolls where we hold our ankles in the butterfly position (my modern instructor at college called these "UFO's"... not sure of the 'correct term').


I tried to incorporate our modern dance vocabulary into our movements:

1) Prancing: We didn't want to get our shoes muddy, so we pranced through the rows (and hopped over pumpkins in our path).

2) Triplets:  We put boots on and squished the mud with our up-up-squish (down).

Pepitas (Toasted Pumpkin Seeds) 3of3We chose pumpkins and explored how it was like to move with our pumpkins (we are currently exploring weighted-movement, so this fit in perfectly).

We repeated this a few times with various sizes,  various ways to carry our pumpkins and then we found the Biggest Pumpkin Ever and tried to move it but it wouldn't budge.

Pumpkin Carving

We decided to carve the Biggest Pumpkin Ever right there!  We cut the top off and climbed inside (it truly was a big pumpkin!).  Other movement ideas:
  • Scooping out the seeds and "gross stuff", as my students put it
  • We had a little food fight by throwing the seed chunks as each other
  • We scraped around the inside, which was great spiraling movement
  • Climbing back out, we carved a large face in our pumpkin
  • Climbing back in, we pushed hard on the face parts to "pop" them out
  • Lighting a candle or light inside the pumpkin
Want even more pumpkin dance ideas? Check out Maria's latest post with three more pumpkin movement ideas.

Have you done any fall-inspired activites with your classes?

Share in the comments!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

SOBuzz: Employee or Independent Contractor?

If you're a Studio Owner (SO) or a teacher, there comes a time when you must decide: are you an employee or an independent contractor?

dance class

In most cases of studio owners I've encountered, your teachers are considered employees, not independent contractors.

However, the business of dance studios is a very diverse group when it comes to schedules and employee structures.  One studio could be run like a fitness club with changing instructors and schedules, another could run year-round.  Between these extremes exist a multitude of other possibilities.

And the consequence of choosing incorrectly can be costly.  If you pay your employee as an independent contractor when they should be an employee, you and your teacher could owe back taxes and employment taxes, complete with interest and penalties!

Quick aside:  The rules I will be discussing will apply to the United States.  If you're outside the U.S., consult with an accountant or lawyer for the laws governing your business.

Employee or Independent Contractor?

It all comes down to how much control the SO has over the employee.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

NMM: September Contemporary Playlist

It been a while since I've done a New Music Monday post, so I thought I'd share my updated music from my contemporary classes.

I'm teaching a beginning contemporary class this year of ages 10-14, instead of just my usual 15 and up class, so it has been a challenge to find some music that is relatable to a 10-year old.  In fact, when I tried playing the slower, lyrical-type music for the younger class, they asked if I had any faster or "fun" music.

So far (third week in), I have found a balance of "fun" and "serious" music keeps everyone happy - we are working on emotions in combinations, but then we keep it more upbeat during technique portions.  What do you find works best for this age group?

Songs For Contemporary Combinations

All links open in iTunes 

Songs For Contemporary Class - warm-up, across the floor

Friday, September 21, 2012

Currently Loving: New Capris

I was recently doing some shopping for fall clothes (online, of course, because who has time to go to the store anymore?!) and I grabbed two pairs of these babies from Forever21.

I use Forever21 for cheap tank tops and basic T-shirts to teach in and to layer under other shirts / over leotards, basically anything under $5 because I know its not great quality, but I'll get some good wear out of it and I like options.  I had a gift card to use and they had a sale so I added something over my usual $5 limit:  the Contrast Ruched Athletic Capris (colors too!). 

Just got them in the mail today and I LOVE them!

I was expecting the usual cheap cotton fabric, but they're actually quite nice being spandex, nylon and polyester.  They fit like leggings rather than capris, but I like that there is color on the bottom.  They ran me $15.60 each - I think they're now $17.80, but that's not too bad considering I will probably wear them every week or so.

They will be a cute update to my usual BLACK on BLACK teaching uniform. 

What do you wear to teach in (or take class)?  Score any new stuff for the new teaching season?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Will An Electronic Signature Hold Up In Court?

Does one click make this contract legally binding?
Have you switched to online registration, but have the urge to chase people down to sign a paper copy because you're not sure if the electronic signature will hold up should you ever need it to?

Maybe you don't have to!

Disclaimer:  I am not a lawyer and "The Dance Buzz" is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice.  If legal advice is required, please seek the services of an attorney.

The signature is only as good as the contract.

First things first.  If your contract on paper wouldn't hold up in court, then an electronic version won't either.

Have your registration contract created or reviewed by a legal professional to make sure you are including the right language and terms.

Be sure to tell your legal professional what you want the contract to do:  Cover liability?  Create a tuition contract?  Be very specific in your contract and make it air-tight.  Once you have a good contract, then we can move online.

What exactly is the law?

Hand On MouseIf you operate in the United States, your electronic signatures will most likely be governed by the Uniform Electronics Transactions Act (UETA) and E-SIGN law.

The UETA has been adopted by 47 states and Puerto Rico, so unless you live in New York, Washington or Illinois, it will cover you.

How does UETA protect me and my dance studio? 

A large part of this act applies to electronic signatures, which how your customers "sign" your contract and policies when they register online.

Two of the most important parts of UETA are Section 7, which gives electronic signatures as much legal value as a paper signature would, and Section 12, which eliminates the need to retain a paper copy of a registration form.  This means that in court, e-signatures = paper signature and no more paper filing for us!

Anything else I should know?

Your must provide a way for your customer to print or save the contract or agreement from your website or else it will not be legally binding.

The UETA words it as making the information "available to all parties", which means there must be a way to print or save the contract at the time of signing online so that they can keep a copy of it if they wish (Section 8 or UETA).

pen and paper
No more chasing down parents to sign registration forms!

So bottom line, should I have parents sign a paper copy even though they signed up online?

Nope, an online signature is legally binding and a paper copy of the same contract would be redundant and unnecessary paperwork on your end.   

Save yourself some time and effort trying to get all those parents to sign the registration forms!

At our studio, I make available a paper copy of our online contract and policies.  I leave them out on the wall for people to take.  I would say only about 10-20% of our customers will actually grab one to take home or read.  

Ok, I live in New York, Illinois or Washington or somewhere else the UETA does not apply.  Am I covered?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Attempted DIY: Dance Quote Sign

Please ignore my alien hand and unpainted fingernails.  Ok admit it, now you're staring.

The Problem

Last year, we installed a drop-ceiling in one of our dance studios to relieve some echoing and to save some heating costs.  Can I get a "what what" for leasehold improvements? 

While the studio looks great, it left this ugly spot in our dressing room area where the back of drywall shows through.  

Unattractive dressing room side.

I didn't have any leftover paint from that room to disguise the grey sheetrock.  I did however find a piece of wood they removed during the project and Voila! an idea was born!

The Plan

I would make a sign with a dance quote on it to help fill in the empty space!  

I debated for a while about what to put on it... should it says something bold like "Through this door, stars are made" or something inspiring like "Dance like no one's watching" or something strict like "RESPECT"?  I finally settled on an inspring, but not quite as cliched quote:

"We are the dancers. We create the dreams"*

* Side note... this is actually then ending of a longer quote that I love:  "Dancing in our heads... We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams." This source attributes it to Albert Einstein, but don't quote me on that (pun intended).

The Process

To begin, I made a mock-up of my design on the computer and played around with fonts and layouts.  

Looking back, I wish I had gone a little bit bigger with the font-size, so that the quote filled in more of the sign, but I still like how it turned out.

I printed out the design onto paper and taped it onto my board:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Blog Challenge: Inspiring Video

Participating in this month's challenge?
Feel free to this bad boy to your post
so you can be official!

Back to School, Back to Dance

For many dancers, parents, teachers, September means one thing: Back to School!

While I'm sad summer is ending, a new dance season is always exciting and my time off has made me anxious to start teaching again.

I've spent the last few weeks searching for some new music and watching dance shows and performances for some inspiration.

September's Blog Challenge Mission:

Last month's challenge was to share the inspiration from books. For September, your mission is to share a video that inspires you.

Your video that you share can be a dance performance you find inspiring on YouTube or just you vlogging about why you dance, teach or just love dance. (Just don't go all eharmony cat lady on me about your love of pointe shoes or something!)

How to Participate:

If you have a blog, share or link to your inspiring video and post a few words on why you like it.  Then make sure you leave a comment with a link to you post so we can all read it!

Don't have a blog? No problem! You can participate by leaving a comment below, tweeting @thedancebuzz or posting to our Facebook wall a link to your favorite dance video and why!

Can't wait to see your inspiring videos!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Preparing The Studio For A New Season

My studio's dance season opens Friday and these last few weeks have been a whirlwind of projects, phone calls, paperwork and a bit of end-of-summer procrastination.  

This year will be my fifth season as studio director and I am excited to challenge myself this year with being more creative and at the same time more organized.

So here's a glimpse at the last few weeks of studio life.  I had planned to share some of these projects as I was doing, but in reality, they will be shared in a future post... once students and classes settle down into their routines!

Wishing you all the best on your new dance season!

Cleaning floors... 
...messy rooms
Arts & Crafts...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Link Love: Olympic-Inspired Movement

Thanks to Teach Preschool's post about the Olympic Blog Hop, I discovered a bunch of great Olympics-inspired movement posts for the little ones and had to share!

Move Like a Gymnast from Creative Family Fun - these activities might be fun to incorporate into a summer camp next year.

Pom Pom Games - These pom poms look fairly easy to make and would be a fun alternative to bean bags in the classroom.

Movement Games for Young Children - a few ideas and a great list of guidelines for creating your own movement game.

Ring-Based Movement Ideas - You could easily translate these ideas to non-Olympic rings by using some hoola hoops or rubber circles.

Olympic Family Fitness from The Iowa Farmer's Wife - a 15-minute fitness lesson for a 3-year old including warm-up, activity and cool down.

Cute London Bus Prop Idea - ok, so this one has nothing to do with movement, but the London bus they made from a cardboard box would be a cute prop!

Have you been watching the Olympics?  Will any Olympic inspired movement be making its way into your classrooms this year?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reading List

I started titling this entry "Summer Reading List", but then realized that it's already August!  Yikes!  So I will call this my Late-Summer / Early-Fall reading list and hope I get through most of the books by the time the leaves start to fall.

This is also my response to August's Blog Challenge - what are you reading?

And p.s.... Happy National Book Lover's Day!  Total unplanned coincidence!

Dance Books

The Human Alphabet by Pilobolus - can't wait to use this one in creative movement class in the fall!

The Souls of Your Feet by Acia Gray - a tap book!

Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit - I have been meaning to read this book for ages...

Creative Dance for All Ages by Anne Green Gilbert - this was recommended to me by a colleague as a springboard for developing creative movement ideas

Business Books

The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte - I started reading this the other day and so far it is a nice change of pace from usual business books - it's like a breath of fresh air!

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon - a nice little book that promises to be full of inspiration, if its anything like his blog

Quick word about my affiliate relationship with Amazon so we're all clear:  If you click the links above and end up purchasing a book, I get a teeny percentage of the sale.  If you don't want to do this, you can search for the book on another site or use Amazon without clicking the links.  Yay freedom of choices! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

2012 Song Selections

Now that the competitions and recitals are over, I'd thought I'd share my list of songs I used this past year for choreography. (Here is 2011 in case you're curious)

All links open in iTunes, unless otherwise noted

Hit The Road Jack - Ray Charles: Large group tap
Medley: It Don't Mean a Thing / Jumpin' At the Woodside - Swing: Large group tap, ages 13-18
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz: Small group tap, ages 12-15
Americano - Lady Gaga: Large group tap, ages 13-18
Tea Party - Kerli: (had to really edit this version, so beware!), large group, ages 11-14
Hold On - KT Tungstall: Small group tap, ages 13-15
A Shine On Your Shoes - Jane Monheit: Solo, age 11
My magic hat!
Faces obscured for privacy
Born To Entertain - Broadway Kids: Solo, age 10 (Amazon Link Broadway Kids: Sing Broadway)

Paradise - Coldplay:  graduating senior dance
Addicted To Love - Florence + The Machine:  jazz / contemporary collaboration - alumni dance (so ages 18+)
Who You Are - Jessie J: Large group contemporary, ages 11-14
Wonderwall (cover) - Ryan Adams: Large group contemporary, ages 15-18
Remnants of a Lullaby - Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Lyrical solo, age 15
The Call - Regina Spektor: Large group lyrical, ages 10-13

Magic - B.O.B.:  jazz, ages 6-8, complete with magic hat prop!
Ever Ever After - Jordan Pruitt: jazz, ages 5-6
Rodeo: IV. Hoe-Down. Allegro - Copland: Large group ballet, ages 6-8
Fairy Dance - James Newton Howard: Large group ballet, ages 7-9
Crayola Doesn't Make A Color... - Kristin Andreassan: Large group modern, ages 7-9

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Blog Challenge: What Are You Reading?

Happy August! 

Wait.  That should read: What? It's August?  What do you mean there's only five weeks until classes start? Ack!

For me, August is the last chance for some time off from teaching (our summer classes only run until the end of July), which is when I do things like... go to the ballet, read dance books and catch up on SYTYCD.   A.K.A. dance inspiration time!

So in honor of the inspiration that comes from the written word, and in honor of all the college students heading back in for a new year of reading and learning, August's Blog challenge is to post about what you're reading now, what you've read this summer or even just your favorite dance book, business book or children's book.

Don't have a blog? No problem! You can participate by leaving a comment below, tweeting @thedancebuzz or posting to our Facebook wall!   Also follow my "Worth a Read" pinterest board, if you're obsessed with Pinterest like I am into that kind of thing.

I'll post my summer reading list shortly and I look forward to reading yours!

Check out these great reading lists:
+ Moira's recommendation for teaching irish dancing at On My Toes
+ The Dance Buzz's summer / fall reading list with a mix of dance and business books
+ Check out Read It. Move It. Share It., a collaboration between Maria's Movers and Picture Books & Pirouettes 

Friday, July 27, 2012

This is Why Dance Matters

What Is This A Picture Of?
I posed the question "why does dance matter to you?" to the followers of my other dance twitter account, @dancequote, and this is a visual representation of their responses.  

What Is Why Dance Matters?
It is a movement to spread the word on why dance is a valuable artform and who it matters to.  Join the movement here:

Read more about the un-scientific manner on how I created this after the jump.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why Dance Matters

As we are coming up on National Dance Day (July 28, 2012), Nichelle at Dance Advantage has posted the question: "Why does dance matter to you?"  In fact, she's trying to start a whole movement (dance pun intended) of the online dance community to share Why Dance Matters.  If you want to get involved, check it out at, tweet #whydancematters to you or follow our Pinterest board (you know I love a good Pinterest board)!

So here's why dance matters to me:

It's my job.  

But more than that, it's my passion.

No, it's still more than that... it's who I am.


You would not be able to describe me without talking about dance.  

It's a link between my past and my present.

It's what I do when my soul needs mending.

It's the joy that I want to share with my students and friends.

It's a universal expression of joy and love and emotions.

It has created a community of people in my life whom I love and who I feel like I've known my whole life (online and offline).

It's wordless communication.

Dance is part of me.

Join the project and share why dance matters to YOU! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Creative Movement: Beating The Heat

Hot Sun
"Hot Sun" by Brian Gurrola
Summer is in full swing and it's been hot hot hot where I live for the past two weeks! If it's summer where you live, I'm sure you are feeling the heat.  I feel badly for my city neighbors who have been suffering from super heated subways and sidewalks...  Make sure you're staying hydrated if it's hot where you live!

Because of the heat, in creative movement summer class we've been channeling "cool thoughts".  Here are a few exercises you can do with your classes:

1) Snowy Day Dances.  

Maria explains it best in her blog entry with a ton of great creative movement ideas about snow, and using the book, "Snowy Day" (Maria's Movers)

Snow Man

2) Build a Snow Man (or Woman) - group exercise 

Split up into "Snow People" and "Builders/snow artists".   The Builders will create a snow person out of the Snow People by gently guiding and shaping each snow person into a shape to make one big snowman.

The first time we do this exercise, I assign each Builders a part, like "lower body", "face", "accessories", to help them narrow down what they are creating.  If your crew is really good at working together or you have a small class, then you might be able to skip the assignments and just let them create together.

Remind the Snow that their job is to hold their position, but cooperate if a new Builder would like to shape them differently.

Each of the Builders adds on the creation (stretching arms to create scarves, moving hands for buttons or even suggesting an expression for the Snow to make). Suddenly... Voila! you have a snow man!  Switch the groups and tasks and repeat! 

I love this exercise for my youngest creative movement class (ages 7-10), as it is a great introduction to group work and partnering in a fun way.  This is a very hands-on activity... we learn about communication, leadership and cooperation. 

My older kids get a kick out of it too and you can create some cool lifts (no pun intended) out of it.  With my older ones, I skip the assignments and just split them into groups of 3-5 and tell them they need to create a snow man or woman using their bodies.  Then we take turns showing our snow person and creating storylines about what the snow person does for a living, what he or she is doing at that very moment.  A lot of fun!

3) Ocean Dances 

Check out this page for a lot of great ocean-inspired creative movement exercises!

4) Storm Dance 

Weather and nature is great for creative movement inspiration.  My 5 and 6 year olds enjoy being seeds that blow in the wind and then turn into flowers when the sun shines.  When we are flowers our roots are planted (either by sitting, kneeling or standing in one spot) and just our upper body moves.

Learn From The Way The Wild Flowers Grow. They Do Not Work Or SpinSometimes there is a big thunderstorm coming and our petals and leaves blow very fast (we sort of look like those inflatable tubes that wave all around).  Other times it rains and we drip and droop.  When the sun shines we stand up very tall and spread our leaves to catch all of the sunshine.

Other times we pretend we are clouds that float about the room.  Our clouds can be blown by the wind together to travel in one direction or sometimes we float in different directions. Have fun creating your own weather dances!

5) Other "Cool"Summer Movement Inspiration

- Ice melting and freezing: great for "freeze dance"
- Floating in a pool or stream: oh no! there's a whirlpool!
- Making shapes that divers make (cannonball!)
- Blowing in the wind
- Rain:  light rain, heavy rain, being a flower or plant in the rain
- Fishing: being fish, being on a boat, fishing, being the worm, seaweed
- Fans:  slow fans, oscillating fans, big fans, small fans
- Making Lemonade: adding sugar, ice, lemons, mixing

Music Suggestion:  The David Sun Natural Sound Collection: Sounds of the Earth - Storm The David Sun Natural Sound Collection: Sounds of the Earth - Storm - Sounds of the Earth

How do you "stay cool" at dance class?  Any summer movement ideas?
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