Community Brainstorm – Prop Ideas

The Community Brainstorm Project is exploring the idea of bringing together dance teachers in this community and sharing a snapshot of thoughts on a specific topic. My hope is that we learn new & useful ideas, it sparks new conversations, or perhaps pushes us to investigate a topic that we have never thought about in our own teaching. I’m really excited about hearing from every single one of you. After all, the best way to learn is from each other! – Maria

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From Natalia Johnson:

As you do Maria, I use masking tape for OMG ALOT. We enjoy making giant corn maizes and spider webs in the fall. We are careful to glissade through the corn maize so we don’t rustle the corn and wake the scarecrow. I pretend to sleep in the middle of the maize and if I see someone touch the lines I make a big scene flapping and squaking and carrying on as any obnoxious scarecrow would. Everyone laughs and we all go back to the beginning. Sometimes I have children who want to take turns as the bird brain. We tip toe around spider webs so we don’t get stuck. It’s really fun when someone volunteers to get stuck and we tip toe around them too. I play a freeze dance version also and its fun to watch them try to freeze without stepping and getting stuck. With masking tape I also create curvy, zig zag or straight pathways for trick or treating around the nieghborhood.

In the winter I do a fun ice skating extravaganza with tape. I usually bring some fancy costume pieces (because of olympics this was REALLY fun last week.) We put on some swag and I play good old winter Vivaldi and I watch them dance all around. We ahhhhhhhhhhhh slip and all crash. We decide we would rather not do that anymore so we dance carefully as to not crash. I take this opportunity to introduce some partner work. We talk about moving holding both our partners hands. We work up to a nice chase around with our partner. We skip holding hands next to our partner and we always try to go backwards with everything on the ice. I LOVE watching the ice skaters do that awesome backwards around the rink thing with their arms out stretched? We re-create this quite nicely. Ice skaters dance low, medium, high. Slow and fast. Backwards, forwards, sideways. We talk about how a burre turn on the ice is a little different. They get to do the spin around they always are so eager to do (and don’t have to take tiny tip toes like I usually insist.) ; ) We talk about how ice skates are sharp and how they leave marks in the ice I look around and say oooo look heres a straight line and I lay down the tape….here’s a curvy one…..so on and so on. Then I challenge them to try to re skate their paths.

In the spring I have pretended we are busy new york taxi’s honking and splashing  about in the rain. We talk about how cars move fwd, bwd, in circles. I make a city road route. With all sorts of tape!!!!! Roads that connect and intersect roads that are lonely. Roads that drive parallel to each other. BACK_UP…. we pick the color of our car to begin the lesson we get to go to a car show and show off our cars moves one at a time in the center of the circle. I hand everyone fun bike horns I have. We honk instead of clap for the person in the center. I then hold up a green sign, yellow and red. We go through what these colors on the road mean. We decide two honks means EXCUSE ME. I had a little one say “ya if we just honk once that means MOVE and thats rude.” ha anyhow I explain the rules of the street paths I’ve make and tell them to watch out for the street lights that I will randomly hold up. If they run into someone on a road they must honk twice and walk around them carefully and keep on truckin’. EVERYBODY PUT YOUR CAR IN REVERSE> HA HA. It’s loads of fun.

In the summer I do many many fun things with tape. We go on enchanted walks with tape paths. We decide our tape is MUCH more reliable than silly bread crumbs. We set up a jousting tournament and obstacle courses using tape. We make life size treasure maps with tape. We plant flower gardens and make tape circles and grow flower pots. I mean really it goes on and on. I don’t know if tape is real original but it sure is fun.

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From Christine Wellner:

Scarves are very versatile, of course, and The Magic Elevator game gets them thinking about how they can move in a certain way, using the scarf to enhance their specific movement choices. I’m not sure how I came up with this idea originally – perhaps I riffed on a suggestion I saw online – but it quickly became a class favorite. After distributing the scarves, I explain that its time to take a ride in the magic elevator. We gather in a tight clump and everyone presses an imaginary elevator button.

Then I say, “Going up!” (tippy toe in place) or “Going down!” (small marches while sinking in the upper body)…”And now the doors open and…..Suzy! What do we find on this floor?!?!” And the dancer chooses how the group exits the “elevator” and dances around the space. Could be anything/any place, and its so fun to hear what they choose, and how each little interprets the suggestion. But then the trick is to find a way to use the scarf to enhance whatever type of place/character/animal is called out….so if its the land of the unicorns, the scarves can be horns, across back as butterfly wings, around waist like a sarong if its a beach….so many possibilities all in one game. After dancing a bit, I call out, “Quickly! Let’s get back to the elevator!” and we gather up again.

The dancers love to each have a turn to share an idea with the group, and there is something fun about physically gathering in a clump, breaking apart to move freely and back again, plus the anticipation of what the next suggestion might be, all while using the scarves to add another dimension to their to movement and imagination.

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What are your favorite props? Do you have ideas to share that you do with that prop? I would love to hear! 

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