Thursday, May 22, 2014

Parent/Child Creative Dance Class and Dance Party

I teach Creative Dance for children at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (CCM) Preparatory Department.  For the last class of the year, parents, family, and friends were invited to join the children for an hour of dancing together.

We did a mirror warm up where I took them through a playful progression of isolations and other warm up exercises.  The participants followed along as if they were looking in a mirror: if I lifted my right arm, they would lift their left arms up the same way.  If I stepped forward, they were to step forward, and if I stepped to the side, they would mirror that as well.  The music I used was Dance in Your Pants by David Jack, who has written and recorded some of my favorite children's music - it is fun, energetic and the beat is irresistible.
The Chicken Dance!

Dancing the Macarena!

We also did some classic popular dances, such as the Chicken Dance (a Cincinnati favorite), the Cupid Shuffle (a great workout if you use the whole song), the Bunny Hop (also a good workout), the Macarena, and we finished with a Conga line. I did one problem-solving activity, which is described below:

~Create a dance with your grouping of family or friends~ 

Each loosely-defined group (parent(s)/child/siblings/classmates/friends) was asked to:

  •  Think of three or four movements that they like to do. 
  •  Put these movements in order, making a repeatable  phrase
  •  Once they did that, they were to practice doing the phrase four times in a row.  
  • Now all they needed for their original dance was to come up with a beginning and an ending.  One way to describe this composition is that they are creating a long dance sentence.  They have already created the words of the sentence (all of the movements from their repeatable phrase). Now we needed to think of a beginning position, like the capital letter which starts a sentence, and an ending position, like a period or exclamation point that finishes a sentence.  It can be any shape or position that they like.
  • Perform the dances with music! (see the paragraph below)
  • Take a bow at the end

Once everyone had time to practice their dances, I put on a couple of different types of music (1. Baroque Hoedown, Perrey and Kingsley, CD: The In Sound from Way Out, and 2. Bop 'Til You Drop, by the Nylons).  They danced their compositions all together.  This activity was well-suited to the multi-aged group, which ranged from a baby on its father's chest in a carrier, to adult parents and friends.
Creating a Dance!

We finished our dance party with a Conga line.  Three people were asked to be leaders, and we had three lines moving simultaneously around the room, to Greg & Steve's Conga Line.  At first, we were doing a small kick on the strong fourth beat of the music, but then I asked them to make a different shape with their bodies each time on that accented beat, then to make a funny face on count four.  We waved good-bye to each other as the song finished, as this was our last chance to be together before summer vacation begins!

Keep on Dancin',

Connie Bergstein Dow

©2014 Connie Bergstein Dow

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