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Dancing in the Classroom

Here are some tips for teachers on how to make dancing a regular part of classroom life:

Clear out a dancing space. Be creative and bold, making the space as long and wide as possible. With clear assignments and some practice your class should be able to clear the room in less than a minute.
Develop a classroom repertoire that is varied, including both dances and singing games. Alternate different ways of choosing partners.

Have boys (gents) dance with girls (ladies).
Have partners chosen at random.
Have students choose their own partners.

See CHOOSING PARTNERS.

Dance with your students but also encourage them to dance without you. It is an empowering experience for a class to dance independently of adults. If another class is learning about traditional dancing, get together with them and have a dance party. This works very well when a class of older students gets together with a class of younger students. Arrange a collaboration between the school’s physical education teacher and the music teacher; combine your two classes together in the gym for an in-school mini-dance fest.

Try bringing your class to a local family dance or the beginners session of a contra or square dance. Invite a local dance caller into your classroom to teach and talk about the dance traditions in your area, or bring a traditional dance teacher to your school as an artist-in-residence. Such a residency can culminate in an evening of dancing for the school and surrounding community.

Most importantly, make these dances your own. Don’t be afraid to modify a dance to meet the needs of your students. Soon the children will be taking the dances out onto the playground and asking to dance every day. You will know your class has reached dance heaven when you can say: ‘Listen, I’ve got some paperwork to do at my desk. Why don’t you all clear the room and have a dance?’

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