Transcript from the video...
How can I engage my primary class in dance?
When we're working with teachers, one question I'm often asked is about how to we engage children in dance, especially the boys?
We’ll give you a couple of tips when working with your children to really make sure they engage with what you’re doing. The first is to make sure you use something they want to emulate, and secondly about how you mix your children up so they be as creative as possible.
Let's start by looking at doing activities based around something the children want to emulate. At the moment there's so much on TV, on apps, you've got tik tok, you've got strictly, you've got talent shows where everybody's going on there to show their dance skills.
Dance has become a massive part of what we see and the kids are really loving it. But then they come to school and you might say, all right, now we're going to be a piece of litter and float around the whole, you know, for 40 minutes. And the kids are thinking, “I'm not feeling this at all” and it really puts a barrier up.
Then you have a real big hill to climb. Whereas if you've got something really engaging; really get up and go, which they’ve seen in all these different places then they’ve got a positive experience to build on and you get them engaged. If you can just draw them in with something that they're really interested in, whether it's a topic like the Romans; or the Egyptians; or the Great Fire of London; or something like that, you draw them in where a lot of the movement is then created by themselves.
Boys often think that dance is uncool and not for them. But using a hip hop routine; using elements such as martial arts taking boxercise as an example; or choosing topics they can be interested in such as being a Roman gladiator can put dance into a whole new light for them.
So, the ones who haven't had any dance experience, you know, realise that they don't have to master pirouettes or know the ‘cha cha cha’. And to be part of a dance lesson, it's just it's much more about their own experience, their own confidence in their own movement quality and being expressed in a story, that's a really nice way to do it, isn't it?
Now let’s have a look at a really simple hint to use as part of engaging your class.
We always have the ones that are at the front, we could describe them as the dogs where they're like, let's go let's go, let's go!
And then they'll always have the ones that are at the back, more reluctant and we can call these the cats!
So, you've got the dogs on the front row, really, really into it and really wanting to be part of it. You then have the cats who were the ones in the back, usually a little bit naughty, not really wanting to get involved. The dogs can play a massive part in helping you to deliver your lesson by just allowing the dogs to take control a little bit and lead a little bit.
Put them into groups with a mixture of dogs and cats will allow you to get so much more out of your kids, rather than if the dogs are all together, they can be creating something amazing. And the poor old cats at the back and going, “well, I can't do that!”.
I would mix them all up, take them out their friendship groups and mix the dogs and the cats together into little groups. They can really help one another, the dogs get to lead and show what they can do whilst building their teamwork and leadership skills, whilst the more reluctant cats feel more comfortable as they’re shown what to do by their peers.
So, 2 quick and simple tips when engaging your class in dance, is firstly really think about what will engage them. Is pretending to be a tree engaging, or would they prefer to be a hip hop star or a gladiator? Secondly, mix up the cats and dogs, it’s a really good way of helping any group of children get on board with dance and love it. The children who love to dance will lead and build confidence in the children who are more reluctant.