Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shhhh... *spritz spritz*

"Quiet Spray" - found at The Lemonade Stand blog.  As they suggest: "...spray the ROOM to signal children to get quiet.  Or you can just leave the bottle empty.  Mine love the mist in the air....I do not condone spraying a child!  As much as you might want to!  Ha!"

I thought this was a cute idea, even though I don't have too much trouble with talking in classes (knock on wood...), but every so ofter there is a class that is just the right mixture of personalities to create the chit-chatty class.  Sometimes it only takes one or two chatterboxes to make you want to reach for the quiet spray...especially in my high school classes :)

On second thought, maybe I should make some interchangeable labels:

"Pointe-Your-Toes Spray"
"Choreography Cleaner"
"Dance Bills-B-Gone"
"Spotting Spray" (NOT to remove spots, but to add spotting to turns!)

Any others you can think of for when you're having "one of those days"?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Autumn Leaf Creative Movement Dance

I wanted to share an autumn leaf dance I've been exploring with my younger classes.  It was inspired by a few different posts from fellow dance bloggers and my recent acquisition of scarves!

We danced this dance in my youngest ballet classes (ages 5 and 6) through my intermediate ballet and modern classes (ages 9-12) and they all enjoyed it.

After all, who doesn't like dancing with scarves!?

Autumn Leaf Creative Movement

This dance can be as structured or as open as you'd like to make it.
Scarves (links to Amazon)

Optional Props:  Dance scarves (I purchased these 27" square ones from Amazon and they are holding up pretty well considering we've been using them almost weekly in about 10 classes a week.  They are nice and big and come in a nice variety of colors. The edges are starting to fray slightly, but I expected that.)

Skills:  Spatial awareness, working with a group, telling a story, improvisation

Music:  We used Vivaldi's Autumn Allegro (The Four Seasons) & for the older classes closer to Halloween switched to a spookier-sounding song - we used Sayuri's Theme.  Links open in iTunes, DB is an iTunes affiliate

We divided our class into Tree dancers, Wind dancers and Leaf dancers.  The scarves made it easy as I was able to group dancers by color (red and orange were Leaves, green and yellow were Trees, blue and purple were Wind).

General movements:
Trees - tall and straight, limbs moving and shaking in the wind.  For ballet classes, they moved through different ballet arm positions, modern class was freer movements, the scarf held in one or two hands like a leaf.

Wind - flow-y and blow-y, lots of traveling.  We used chasses, bourees, gallops, ballet runs, and turns, with the scarf circling overhead

Leaves - going between slow and still movements to fast and big movements.  We used skipping, hop scotch, and turns, scarf dancing along with them.

Formation & Travel Patterns:
To start, the Leaves gathered in a pile in the center of the room (sitting or kneeling together).  Trees stood in a circle around them.  Wind stood in a line "offstage".  I usually appointed a leader (or had my assistant lead) for the Wind so that they would move in a line, like "follow the leader" - it helped them not get so wild.

Blue = Wind dancers, Red = Leaf dancers, Green = Tree dancers

The "Story":  I would narrate this over top of the music, occasionally changing it up (the options I can remember in parentheses).  I also think it would work well with Maria's creative movement falling leaves poem.  After a few times, I would give fewer and fewer cues and with the older kids we did it without talking.

Once upon a time, deep in the woods (middle of a meadow, spooky Halloween forest, etc) was a wonderful circle of tall, tall trees.   
The trees were straight and tall from their roots (in 1st position for ballet) and stretched their branches up to the sun.   
Then one day, the wind began to blow (motion for wind dancers to enter - they would do their movement traveling around the room) and the trees' branches began to shake.   
The leaves began to dance all around (cue for Leaf dancers to get up and come out of the circle).  They danced this way, and that way and twirled and whirled with the wind!  
At this point I would send Wind back offstage, ("The wind went away, back from where it came... and the leaves drifted slowly back to their tree grove and trees protected them" - trees would reach hands in the middle to cover leaves) or open it up to creative movement, which is what I would usually do towards the end of our class (all the forest began to move around and dance together).

Repeat and switch roles!

Other ideas we played with during group dance:
  • Incorporate steps from class, using the scarf ("they balance'd this way and balance'd that way")
  • Have all dancers just dance with their arms and the scarf
  • Observer how the scarf moves and imitate it with their bodies
  • Float slowly to the ground like a falling leaf
  • Toss the scarf in the air during their creative dancing
Does anyone else have a fun scarf dance or exercise?  Do you do a fall dance?  I hope you enjoyed ours!
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