Here is a little blog entry with some examples of fun dance games and creativity exercises you are free to use!
Firstly, remember that myself (Ashlee from UK) and Clara (from Spain) are here in Hungary teaching students and so we have a language barrier. This barrier is SO MUCH LESS in dance than drama. Of course there are still concepts that need to be explained in dance as there are in drama, but usually these can be shown - if they are related to anatomy, posture, poses, moves. The only little problem I have experienced so far was in attempting to do some partner acrobatics stuff for which I realised language is important in explaining weight and balance.... this could have worked if I had my own partner of similar height/weight to demonstrate on.
However, generally, dance is a universal language and i'm realising this more and more each week.
We always start with a warm up to a fun song, and then enjoy some dance 'games'.
The games are always there to encourage the students to feel FREE and to express themselves, laugh at themselves, move HOWEVER THEY WANT TO, it doesn't matter if it's not to the rhythm of the music or if it's not a standard dance move, I just want them to move and have fun.
Here's a few examples of dance games, most of which I made up myself.
1. Statues come to life. Everyone stands like a statue, randomly scattered around the room. Music plays and I shout a number, for example ' ONE!'. This means that one person should then move, whilst the rest of the group remain as statues. This person dances around, using the 'statues' as stimuli if possible, spinning around them, sliding between their legs, and so on, until finally freezing next to a person and becoming a statue, at which point this person then comes to life immediately, doing as the person before did. Sometimes I might shout 'TWO' or 'THREE' or 'EVERYBODY'. This is good not only for dance/movement/expression but also for concentration, as it starts to get a trickier the higher the number is I call out.
Variation - depending on the music I can give them a theme or dance style to move to . Last week we did 'Summer holiday', 'jazz/swing','sad' and 'lost'.
2. Clap and change. A very simple dance game, the students dance a repetitive move, it could be a dance move we've learnt together in previous lessons, or something they feel at that moment, as long as it's repetitive. When I clap, they change the move.
Variation - Clapping twice means get into a pair and immediately create a repetitive dance move together almost instantaneously (requires focus and shared energy), clapping three times means a group of three or I can shout 'EVERYBODY' and the whole class moves in sync.
3. Who is the leader? In a circle students will mirror one person's actions, but without making it clear who exactly is leading (the idea is to concentrate on a spot in the centre of the circle and for the leader to start with large, slow movements). One person leaves the circle whilst the rest decide who is the leader, and the student must guess who is leading. When high level of concentration maintained this exercise works incredibly well.
4. Silly dances.The silliest possible music is played and all students stand at end of the room. In pairs, and moving in a synchronised fashion, they make their way to the other side of the room at which point the walk back to the end of the line whilst the next pair are moving across the space. Silly movements are encouraged, to match the silly music!
5. Eyes closed partner dance. This can be done in a circle, taking it in turns, although maybe with younger students who have shorter concentration spans it is best done in pairs. In a circle, one person (A) starts by approaching another student (B), B immediately closes their eyes and then dances with A, with A leading all the movements. B simply goes along with what movements feel right, feeling both the music and their partners lead.
Next we will always do some kind of creativity exercise. This is always my favourite part as I love how you can tell stories through dance and it's great seeing how the students' minds work. Every different theme provokes different styles of movement with different body parts, rhythms, tempos, moods, etc. They spend about 10 minutes making a one-two minute routine, in small groups.
Here are some examples of what we have done over the last few weeks.
* Make a clown dance. Inspired by the big top, students are encouraged to partake in basic acrobatics, act like animals jumping through hoops, clowns, puppets and so on.
* Make a sleep dance. Tired, lazy, slow, relaxed, sleepy movements.
* Make a spring dance. Flowers growing, trees blooming, everything comes to life in spring!
* Make a 'lost' dance. Chaos and that feeling of emptiness and frantic-ness when you've lost something/ are lost inspire the movements to this dance.
We end with 15 - 20 minutes of choreography. So far we have done jazz, swing and hip hop!