Reflecting on this past year, I decided there were some things I would NEVER do again, and some things that I would absolutely do again. One I said I would never do again was a partner dance. I decided to do a partner dance for the stage for one of my 4 and 5 year old classes this past year. We do a lot of working in partners in class so I thought it would be great to put a little something together. I learned a lot from the experience. There were challenges and successes so I thought I would share my ideas here in case you find yourself itching to do a partner dance! 😉
1) When students are absent it’s really tough to practice a partner dance, but I choreographed it so even if their specific partner wasn’t there they could practice itt with anyone. I think that is key. Make it the same for every couple, so no one feels left out if someone is absent.
2) When you put littles together they can get pretty silly. Rightfully so (even adults do that). It can be hard to get their attention because now you have immediately given them someone to interact with. I sat them down many times and we started over. I made a big deal if they could focus for just a short 3 minute span. Doing little bits at a time throughout class seemed to work better for us.
3) I realized that I set my expectations a little to high. After a few classes of trying to put the partner dance together, I had to back up and take it one step at a time. I think this really helped my littles understand patience and practice. Plus it gave me a learning experience too! Now I know that choreographing partner dances are a lot of work. Initially I thought it would be easier than the other dances I was pulling together. Boy, was I wrong. It was so worth it though!
1) They really helped each other out. I could see them working together, and really taking into their own hands to problem solve the steps and the ideas. I think that’s why I kept working at it with them. I knew they could do it.
2)They were excited about the idea of having a partner (in crime;) to dance with. I told them they were the only class to get the privilege of doing a partner dance. I think that gave them some ownership and made them proud of THEIR dance.
3) It was such a cool experience for them on the stage. They were responsible for each other and they really pulled it together. When we practiced it in the studio it looked like a total mess. But I had a little feeling that they would pull it off on stage. And they did! If only the audience knew how hard it was to put together!
I wanted to give up and scratch the whole thing so many times, but in the end I was glad that I kept at it. I think it gave my littles opportunities to problem solve and also responsibility to their partner and to me. Now, I’m coming up with more partner dances. Never say never, right?
Do you ever do partner dances with your students? Have you tried to choreograph one? I would love to hear!
p.s. more partner dances here and here.
Everything you mentioned is so true! Some years (depending upon the class dynamic ) I teach a modified version of the Virginia Reel. My little ones love it and they work so hard at being good partners.
thanks for your comment Diana! Right? It’s all about the class dynamic, even though it was so hard for them and for me, I stuck to it. Glad I did. Will have to check out the Virginia Reel! 🙂